Legal Executive Job Description
A 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 duties including providing legal advice, preparing documents and attending court.
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 the same places as Solicitors, including law firms, corporations and government 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
• Working with and assisting solicitors
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 Litigation, Conveyancing and Private Client Law.
You don’t 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 Legal Executive with no legal background will take longer to qualify.
The average time to complete the CILEx qualification is 4 years, but the time frame and route to qualification varies with level of experience:
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 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 caseworker / paralegal will be useful.
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
Earning potential varies depending on employer and location, with London and other large cities typically offering a higher Legal Executive salary.
The average starting salary for an entry level Legal Executive ranges from £15,000 to £28,000 per annum. A fully qualified junior Legal Executive can expect to earn around £30,000 - £50,000, whilst senior Legal Executives can earn over £55,000.
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 and even apply for judicial positions.