Chartered legal executives are qualified lawyers who specialise in a particular area of law in England and Wales
Once you become a chartered legal executive, you will be an authorised lawyer. You may specialise in an area of law, carrying out reserved legal work alongside solicitors or CILEX Practitioners.
Types of legal work
Legal executives work in the following areas:
- conveyancing (legal work needed to buy or sell property)
- criminal law (defending, or taking a court case against, a person accused of a crime)
- company and business law (laws relating to businesses, such as tax or employment)
- litigation (going to court to sort out disputes)
- personal injury (such as accident claims)
- family law (divorce, and sorting issues about money, property and children)
- probate (wills, trusts, inheritance tax and the administration of estates).
As a chartered legal executive, you'll need to:
- advise clients and explain complex legal matters to them
- communicate effectively and reach agreements with your clients
- negotiate and correspond on your clients' behalf
- interview and advise clients and witnesses
- analyse, research and summarise legal information
- research information for the preparation of legal documents
- liaise with fellow professionals from courts, legal practices, banks, and accountancy firms
- contact professionals, such as mortgage lenders, planning officers or other lawyers, on behalf of your clients
- conduct advocacy in county and magistrates' courts
- act as commissioners for oaths for the swearing of legal documents
- attend court to assist barristers and solicitors with the presentation of cases
- prepare accounts on behalf of a legal practice
- keep up to date with changing legislation
- file and index paperwork
- assign and supervise the work of junior staff.
Examples of tasks related to a specialist area of work include:
- advising and preparing documentation on the legal aspects of setting up a new business
- drawing up wills and drafting contracts
- calculating inheritance tax, working out the sums and explaining the terms of wills to beneficiaries
- preparing documentation for the conveyancing of property, matrimonial, probate and/or litigation work.
- As a CILEx student, you'll earn between £15,000 and £28,000.
- After completing the CILEx qualification, your salary can rise to £38,000.
- Once you've got the required three years of relevant work experience, you can earn in the range of £35,000 to £55,000. Senior chartered legal executives can earn more than this, especially if working in a large city or as a partner in a firm.
Salaries vary depending on your employer, location and type of work.
Income data provided by CILEx. Figures are intended as a guide only.
You'll typically work standard office hours Monday to Friday, although you may need to work longer hours with occasional weekend work.
Part-time work and career break opportunities are available.
What to expect
- The work is office based, but you may need to visit clients in courts and police stations.
- Jobs are available in towns and cities in England and Wales.
- Once you've gained experience, you may be able to work on a self-employed or freelance basis, for example as a licensed conveyancer.
- The job carries the responsibilities associated with the legal field and may be challenging at times.
- You should be smartly dressed when interviewing clients or attending court.
To become a chartered legal executive you must complete the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ). The qualification is a progressive framework across three stages:
- CPQ Foundation - completing this stage leads to accreditation as a CILEX Paralegal.
- CPQ Advanced - builds on the foundation stage and includes ethics and professional responsibility module as well as a further period of professional experience. Leads to accreditation as an advanced paralegal.
- CPQ Professional - leads to accreditation as a full CILEX Lawyer in a chosen specialist area of law and with full practice rights.
Trainees with the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) will enter CPQ at Professional stage, although they may be required to complete the underpinning Advanced stage module. Those already studying or training via the older LPC route (started prior to September 2021) will be able to continue to qualify that way.
Students can register for CPQ and is available to study through CILEX Law School (CLS) and a number of approved providers.
An alternative route into the profession is via an apprenticeship, for which you will earn a salary and study on the job. For more information see CILEX apprenticeships.
You'll need to have:
- excellent communication skills
- analytical and problem-solving skills
- commercial awareness and negotiating skills
- the ability to plan work and prioritise tasks
- interpersonal skills, to work as part of a team or with other people and organisations
- administrative, numeracy and IT skills
- the ability to work with discretion
- attention to detail
- good research skills
- the ability to work under pressure.
Many of those who start the CILEx qualification route are already working in the legal sector and get financial support from their employer.
If you're new to the sector try to get some work experience either before or during your studies, as this will improve your chances of finding permanent employment once you're qualified.
For free mentoring resources and experiences designed to support aspiring healthcare and legal professionals - including virtual work experience that is accepted by medical schools, see Medic Mentor.
Typical employers are medium to large-sized firms of solicitors, including:
- high street practices, dealing with legal matters in the local community
- medium-sized firms, combining private client and commercial work
- large commercial firms catering for business clients.
Local authorities also employ chartered legal executives in areas such as litigation and advocacy. There are also jobs available in the Civil Service and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), dealing with issues of public legal concern.
You can find work in the legal departments of large industrial and commercial organisations, such as private utilities and financial institutions, dealing with commercial issues, such as finance, employment and property. It's also possible to work on legal issues for charities.
Look for job vacancies at:
Certain recruitment agencies such as Reed manage chartered legal executive vacancies.
There are opportunities throughout England and Wales, but the role doesn't exist in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Once qualified, you must do further training and development activities throughout your career. As a member of CILEx, you're required to complete nine continuing professional development (CPD) activities per year. At least one of these needs to be in professionalism, which relates to you as a professional person, rather than the area of law you work in.
You may undertake coaching or mentoring to further your skills, as well as delivering training to students. There are also opportunities to write articles or research papers for journals and to take further study and research at postgraduate level.
There are good career prospects for qualified chartered legal executives. As you develop experience and expertise, you’ll progress to more complex cases and build a comprehensive client base. This can lead to opportunities to run your own specialist department in a legal firm, supervising other chartered legal executives, student legal executives, administrative staff and junior solicitors. In smaller practices, you may become practice manager. With experience, you can apply for additional practice rights and set up your own CILEx-regulated firm.
Alternatively, you may choose to train and qualify as a chartered legal executive advocate, which provides you with extended rights of audience in civil, criminal and family proceedings and means you can represent clients in several courts, including county and magistrates' courts. You'll also manage cases from start to finish.
With five years' post-qualification experience, you can apply for some judicial appointments, including deputy district judge, employment judge and district judge.
You also have the option to become a solicitor after completing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).