Legal Executive Job Description
If you are thinking about getting a qualification in legal practice but do not fancy becoming a Solicitor, you might consider training as a Legal Executive. In this Legal Executive job description article, we will address questions you might have about the role – such as “What is a Legal Executive?” and “What does a Legal Executive do?” – and take a look at the requirements and rewards of Legal Executive jobs in greater detail.
What is a Legal Executive?
A Legal Executive, formally known as a Chartered Legal Executive, is a type of qualified Lawyer who has trained and specialised in one specific area of law such as litigation or conveyancing. Despite the difference in their qualifications, the role of a Legal Executive is like that of a Solicitor, with fee earning duties including providing legal advice to clients, preparing documents, and attending court.
Where a Legal Executive receives training in their one chosen area of legal practice, Solicitors must cover several practice areas before they can qualify. You can find out more about the difference between the Solicitor and Legal Executive qualification in our article on How to Become a Solicitor.
What Does a Legal Executive Do?
Recognised alongside Solicitors and Barristers as one of the core disciplines within the legal profession, Legal Executives are required to keep up to date with legal developments and continue training throughout their career. They can be found working in law firms, in-house legal teams and public sector bodies.
Although day to day tasks vary by sector and employer, the typical duties of a Legal Executive may include:
• Providing legal advice to clients; corresponding with them and explaining complex legal matters.
• Liaising with fellow professionals on behalf of clients.
• Researching information and preparing legal documents.
• Attending court to assist with the presentation of cases.
• Conducting advocacy in High Court and County Court.
• Acting as a commissioner for oaths for swearing of legal documents.
• Keeping up to date with changing legislation.
• Preparing the accounts of a legal practice.
• Assisting Solicitors and working alongside Paralegals, Legal Secretaries and other legal professionals.
How to Become a Legal Executive
If you have just begun researching different career pathways in law, you may be wondering “What qualifications do I need to be a Legal Executive?” This section of our Chartered Legal Executive job description will help you to answer that question.
To become a Legal Executive, you must undertake a qualification offered by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). Whereas Solicitors must cover a range of legal practice areas in their route to qualification, Legal Executives focus on one particular specialism. Common areas of expertise include but are not limited to Litigation, Conveyancing and Private Client law.
You do not need a law degree to become a Legal Executive – the minimum entry requirements are four GCSEs grade C or above (including English). However, a trainee Chartered Legal Executive with no legal background will take longer to qualify.
The average time to complete the CILEx Legal Executive qualification is 4 years if you have no prior legal education or work experience, but this can be shortened significantly for those who studied a law degree or legal conversion course.
If you are a school leaver or non-law graduate, you will need to complete two stages of qualification. The first is the CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice. This course is equivalent to an A-level, designed to give you a solid understanding of all core areas of law, serving as the foundation of your legal knowledge.
The next stage is the Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice, a degree level course where you will study a total of 6 subjects. This includes one legal practice module and compulsory professional skills modules.
After completing the Level 6 qualification, you will need to complete a 3-year period of employment to fully qualify as a CILEx member. During employment, you will be trained by either a senior Solicitor, Barrister, Legal Executive or licensed Conveyancer.
This 3-year period can be carried out before or during your studies, as long as the final year is completed after the Level 6 qualification.
If you have a law degree or have completed a law conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), then you can take the CILEx Graduate Fast Track Diploma. This features two modules from the Level 6 Diploma as well as the client care skills module.
This typically takes around nine months to one year of part time study, after which you will become a fully qualified Chartered Legal Executive.
Do you need any experience to become a Legal Executive?
Gaining experience in the legal sector is recommended for a trainee Chartered Legal Executive as it will increase your chances of finding employment post-qualification. Any experience you can gain before or during the CILEx, such as a short-term placement or working as a Paralegal, will be useful.
What Skills Does a Legal Executive Need?
To succeed as a Legal Executive, you will need to demonstrate strong competency in the following:
• Communication and interpersonal skills.
• Analytical and problem-solving skills.
• Negotiation skills.
• Research and drafting skills.
• Attention to detail.
• Organisation skills with the ability to prioritise tasks effectively.
• The ability to work well as part of a team.
• Professionalism and discretion.
• Administrative and IT skills.
How Much Do Legal Executives Earn?
According to our recently published 2021 Audience Insight Report, Legal Executives earn an average salary of £55,139 per year.
The average starting salary for an entry level Legal Executive ranges from £15,000 to £28,000 per annum. A fully qualified Legal Executive can expect to earn around £30,000 - £50,000, whilst senior Legal Executives can earn over £55,000.
Earning potential varies depending on employer and location, with London and other large cities typically offering a higher Legal Executive salary in the UK than smaller cities and towns.
Legal Executive Career Prospects
After you qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive, you are required to undertake further training and career development activities. As a CILEx fellow, you must complete nine Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities every year, which include attending networking events, conferences and seminars. These events are organised by local CILEx and Law Society organisations.
There is ample opportunity for career progression as a Legal Executive. You can step into a more senior role within the department, go on to qualify as a Solicitor, become an advocate or even apply for judicial positions.
Legal Executive Jobs on TotallyLegal
If you have come to the end of our Legal Executive Job Description article and are still unsure about the next steps to take in your legal career, our Paralegal Job Description and How to Become a Solicitor articles are useful resources for finding out about your other options.
Ready to apply? Browse the latest Chartered Legal Executive jobs today on TotallyLegal.