SQE Prep for Chartered Legal Executives

The work of a Chartered Legal Executive

Chartered legal executives are fee-earning qualified lawyers who undertake similar work to solicitors, specialising in a specific legal area such as conveyancing or litigation.

The main difference between a chartered legal executive and a solicitor is in the training, where chartered legal executives study at the same level as a solicitor, but study fewer subjects overall.

The type of work chartered legal executives do varies according to specialism, but typical duties include litigation, giving legal advice, researching and preparing cases, writing wills, property conveyancing, family matters, crimes, company and business law, being involved in actions in the High Court or County Courts, etc. Their day-to-day role is similar to that of a solicitor, and they are expected to keep up-to-date with changes and developments in the law.

Typical employers of chartered legal executives may be solicitors’ firms, local authorities, and legal departments of companies.

Becoming a Chartered Legal Executive

To become a chartered legal executive you need to become a fellow of The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), which can be achieved by passing the CILEx professional qualification in law and completing a minimum period of supervised legal experience.

To qualify, you must also hold a minimum of four GCSE grades C or above, including English Language or Literature or qualifications at an equivalent level.

You do not need to have a law degree to become a chartered legal executive lawyer, but you will need to study and complete the full CILEx route, successfully passing all necessary qualifications that are required. This route provides the flexibility to learn and study part-time, while continuing to work full time, keeping you on track to finish on average in four years.

If you already have a qualifying law degree, CILEx can be a more cost-effective alternative to the LPC or BPTC and can be completed part-time as well in about a year on the fast track. You can train while you work through part-time work/studying or distance learning programmes.

Your salary will depend on what stage you are at in your career path, your location, and your legal specialism.

Take your legal career to the next level - qualify as a solicitor

While a career as a chartered legal executive may be rewarding and fulfilling, you may ‘re-qualify’ and become a solicitor. The experience and qualifications you have gained throughout your career will count when assessing your eligibility to become a solicitor.

There are three ways by which you may do so:

  • The equivalent means route
  • The traditional LPC route
  • The SQE

The 'Equivalent Means' route

In 2015, the SRA introduced a policy of ‘equivalent means’, which enables applicants to evidence that they have met the knowledge and skills outcomes of the various stages of the solicitor qualification by alternative means, i.e. not necessarily via a traditional law degree and LPC.

The equivalent means route allows the SRA to recognise that the knowledge and skills outcomes (and the standard at which they must be acquired) may have been achieved by an individual through other assessed and work-based learning than the traditional ways, without completing a period of recognised training (also known as a training contract).

Where this is proven to be the case, the SRA may grant exemption from all or part of the academic or vocational stages.

Chartered legal executives who meet certain conditions are able to qualify as solicitors through the equivalent means route which is open until 31 December 2032. To be eligible, you must be a chartered legal executive and have completed, started, or accepted an offer for a place for:

  • a qualifying law degree (QLD) – offer must be accepted by 21 September 2021
  • the Common Professional Examination (CPE) / Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) – offer must be accepted before 1 September 2021
  • the Legal Practice Course (LPC) – offer must be accepted before 1 September 2021

To qualify through the legal executives’ equivalent means route, you must, when you apply for admission with the SRA:

  • have passed the LPC
  • have passed the Professional Skills Course (PSC) compulsory core subjects
  • meet the SRA character and suitability requirements
  • provide a certificate of good standing from CILEx Regulation

The traditional LPC route

Chartered Legal Executives may also decide to complete the traditional LPC route to qualification if you have completed, are already studying, accepted an offer to start or paid a non-refundable deposit for:

  • a qualifying law degree (QLD) –  offer must be accepted by 21 September 2021
  • the Common Professional Examination (CPE) / Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), the Legal Practice Course (accepted before 1 September); or
  • a period of recognised training (accepted before 1 September 2021)

Qualifying through the SQE

From September 2021, a chartered legal executive who is not eligible to qualify through the equivalent means route, or is eligible but prefer not to pursue this route, should take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) to become a solicitor of England and Wales.

CILEx practitioner or chartered legal executives will need to pass the two stages of the SQE and meet the SRA requirements of charter and suitability to qualify as a solicitor. They will be exempt from the qualifying work experience as the SRA will recognise their existing qualification and experience.

Chartered legal executives and CILEx practitioners are also eligible to apply for exemptions from the SQE. The extent of any exemption will depend on the individual’s CILEx qualification and any additional experience or qualifications the candidate may have.

All other CILEx members, who are not chartered legal executives or CILEx practitioners, must also complete the years of qualifying work experience. CILEx Level 6 qualifications will count as equivalent to a degree for the purposes of the SQE. Those CILEx members are not eligible to apply for exemptions.

Getting started with the SQE

QLTS School will give you all the tools to succeed in the SQE assessments. We offer three course packages for each stage of the SQE assessments that are comprehensive yet flexible and accessible at affordable prices. Our materials have been used and tested by thousands of candidates who have prepared with us for the QLTS assessments.

Learn more how we can help you prepare for the SQE exams.

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