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How to become a CILEX lawyer

If you’re studying law, already working as a legal professional, or exploring a career move into the field, it’s likely you’ll have heard of CILEX. But what exactly is CILEX and what does a CILEX lawyer do? Below, we answer these questions, explain how you can become a CILEX lawyer, and explore how it can change your legal career.

By Grant Longstaff. Published 31 January 2024.

What is CILEX?

First of all, it’s important to know what, or rather who, CILEX are. CILEX is the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, a professional body for CILEX lawyers, legal executives, paralegals, and other legal professionals in England and Wales. Their aim is to make law more accessible by “challenging outdated perceptions” of the legal field and “[building] a more inclusive legal sector which ultimately delivers a better service for clients” which represents society more fully.

What is a CILEX lawyer?

A CILEX lawyer is a qualified legal professional who has completed the necessary training and examinations set by CILEX. Typically, a CILEX lawyer will usually specialise in a specific area of law. The areas include civil litigation and dispute resolution, both residential and commercial conveyancing, criminal law, family law, and probate.

As a CILEX lawyer, your role will be similar to that of solicitors. You’ll provide legal advice, draft legal documents, and represent clients in legal proceedings. The CILEX route doesn’t limit your career options, you can work for a law firm, a business, or in-house for an organization, essentially anywhere a legal professional with your skills is needed.

One key distinction is that the route to becoming a CILEX lawyer doesn't necessarily require a traditional law degree. Because CILEX offers a range of qualifications, from level 3 professional diplomas to the CILEX Graduate Qualification (CGQ), individuals can qualify through practical work experience alongside CILEX professional examinations, providing an alternative pathway to a legal career in the UK.

Is CILEX the same as a law degree?

It’s important to note CILEX qualifications are not academic qualifications, but professional ones. The CGQ combines practical work experience with a programme of study, so you’re fully equipped to work in the legal sector. However, many people still choose to study a law degree before completing the CGQ – an entry point for CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ) – and can dramatically shorten the time it takes to become fully qualified.

If you’re interested in becoming a CILEX lawyer and also want to study towards a law degree then our LLB (CILEX) could be for you. It’s a part-time four year degree taught online and offers a bespoke program of study in collaboration with CILEX. By completing extra modules during your study you’ll achieve CILEX Advanced Paralegal status and will have completed two of three stages needed for the CPQ at the end of the LLB.

How long does CILEX qualification take?

This is a difficult question to answer as it ultimately depends on your individual circumstances and will vary based on your qualifications and experience. Also, as CILEX training is designed to be more flexible and accessible, the length of time it takes to qualify can differ from person to person. Take a look at the CILEX website for in depth information on their qualifications, determine your starting point, and how long their courses take to complete.

What is the difference between a CILEX lawyer and a solicitor?

The are several differences between a CILEX lawyer and a solicitor, some of which we have already covered. However, there are some other factors you might want to consider before you decide.

Firstly, there is a difference in title. Through the CILEX route, you’ll be known as a Chartered Legal Executive, as opposed to having the title of a solicitor.

Traditional education doesn’t offer the flexibility of the CILEX route. Unlike becoming a qualified solicitor, you don’t necessarily need a degree, though it can certainly reduce the amount of time it takes to fully qualify.

Additionally, If you qualify as a solicitor through the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) you’ll study law as a whole and have to study many facets of legal practice. You’ll likely choose to specialise in a particular practice area once you’ve qualified. For those who already know what kind of law they want to practice, and want to start down that career path as soon as possible, the CILEX route can be the preferred option.

Of course, there are some areas of law not covered by CILEX, for example intellectual property or shipping law, so the route might not be an option. Finally, there are some elements of legal work that a CILEX lawyer may not be able to undertake, such as reserved or regulated legal activities, which may need to be completed under the supervision of a solicitor.

How much does CILEX qualification cost?

Because of the flexibility afforded by CILEX how much it will cost to achieve CPQ can vary. The prices are determined by CILEX and depend on factors such as your qualification level, membership status, and other associated costs, so it’s best to view the latest information directly on their website for the most accurate and up-to-date details regarding their fees.

What is the salary after CILEX qualification?

Salary can depend on a number of factors including your location, the type of work you do, and the amount of experience you have. That said, CILEX reports a fully qualified Legal Executive lawyer can earn between £35,000 and £55,000, with some earning considerably more depending on their role.


Are you considering becoming a CILEX Chartered Legal Executive? Find out more about our bespoke LLB (CILEX) degree now.