How to Qualify As A Legal Executive; The Key Steps
Becoming a legal executive is a good way to get into law without a university degree. The route to qualifying as a legal executive is much different than qualifying as a solicitor through the traditional route.
However, you will have a very similar role to a solicitor. And may even have the opportunity to qualify as a solicitor once your training is complete.
Read on to find out about all the stages to becoming a legal executive.
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
Firstly it’s important to know who the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX/CILEX) are. They regulate legal executives and provide training, support and development to the members of ILEX.
You need to become a member of ILEX if you want to become a legal executive.
Steps to Becoming a legal executive
There are technically no minimum requirements & qualifications that you need before becoming a legal executive. But it is advised you have a minimum of 4 GCSEs grade C or above. But if you have an A level in law, or have done the GDL graduate course this is not necessary.
If you do have a qualifying law degree like the LL.B or the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL/CPE) then you can take the ILEX/CILEX fast track diploma. You will need to study two level 6 practice units and one level 6 skills unit. You will be able to do this part time which is good because to become a legal executive there is also a work experience requirement.
Under the supervision of a legal professional you will need to work a total of 5 years in the legal sector as a trainee. 3 of these 5 years can be before you have finished your training however the final two years must be done after you have finished the academic elements of the course. After you have done this you will be a fully qualified legal executive.
You can apply to become a legal executive through the ILEX/CILEX website. If you don’t have a law degree (like if you just have a secondary school or college qualification) then you will need to study the CILEX level 3 course which lasts 2 years. This is to give you a good foundation understanding of the British legal system. You will then need to study the level 6 unit as with the graduate route.
You will obviously need to fulfil the relevant work experience requirements of becoming a legal executive too.
Benefits of qualifying as a legal executive
The biggest benefit is that you save loads of money! You usually work while you’re doing the courses so you don’t need to take out any high interest loans.
Costs of becoming a solicitor can be over £30000, where as the legal executive course fees only cost £7000.
Students have a massive amount of flexibility when it comes to learning, you can do everything part time. It also gives you more of a holistic education of the law combining academic and practical learning with real world experience.
Legal executives should not be seen as below solicitors in terms of seniority. Since the Legal Services Act 2007 they can become partners in law firms. They also have the same rights of audience as a solicitor.
Since you don’t need an actual training contract to become a legal exec this could provide more employment options. You can get training (as explained below) as long as you work under a legal professional. In the current climate this could make it much easier when trying to find employment.
Solicitor via the legal executive route
Just because you’ve qualified as a legal executive doesn’t mean you can’t become a lawyer. If you don’t have a law degree but have done all the relevant legal executive training you can still do the legal practice course.
Then you may not need to do the required training contract because of all of the experience you have already. You should contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority to be sure that a training contract will not be required. You will become what is known as a chartered legal executive lawyer
The key element is that you are already a qualified legal executive before undertaking the LPC. So yes, it may be possible to become a solicitor without a degree – definitely contact the SRA and explain your situation to them before undertaking the LPC.