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.