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CILEX: a fast-track route to becoming a specialist lawyer

updated on 30 November 2021

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Today’s legal world is more competitive than ever before. Employers are looking for work-ready graduates who not only have the right legal knowledge, but also have the practical, commercial and interpersonal skills to make an impact from day one.

This autumn the first cohort of students began studying the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ), a new, more practical-based approach to qualifying as a lawyer, designed to address the needs of the modern legal market.

Sky’s the limit

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) has been providing an accessible route into a rewarding legal career for over 50 years. Most CILEX lawyers qualify by fitting in study around work. CILEX-qualified professionals are currently working at every level of the legal profession with many progressing to become advocates, partners in law firms, business owners and judges.

This year, following wide consultation with law firms and other employers, the CPQ was launched, giving aspiring lawyers a route into a legal career that allows them to specialise early in their chosen field.

The CPQ is a three-stage progressive qualification and recognises that a successful career in the law requires more than just legal knowledge. The course introduces mandatory legal technology, business skills and emotional intelligence study for the first time in legal training. As a result, those qualifying through CILEX are recognised by employers as work ready and well rounded.

Different by design

Designed for both graduates and non-graduates alike to study flexibly at their own pace, students with a law degree or postgraduate legal qualifications do not have to start at the beginning of the three stages.

As a graduate, where you start depends on your previous academic experience. Law graduates can jump straight to the CPQ Advanced stage and become a fully qualified practising lawyer in three to four years.

You will become a trainee CILEX lawyer by enrolling on the CPQ Advanced stage. From this point you’ll begin to specialise in your legal education, focusing on the area that most interests you or is of greatest value to your employer. This stage is for those with law degrees and is a fast-track towards becoming a CILEX lawyer.

By completing the final stage, CPQ Professional, you will become a CILEX lawyer. This is for those who want to be a specialist in their field and have full practice rights, practising alongside solicitors, barristers and other legal professionals.

Deeper focus

Unlike the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, CILEX trainees can specialise earlier by focusing in more depth on the areas of law that are relevant to you and your employer as well building your professional competence. Many law graduates will already know which field they want to practice in, through CILEX you can focus on gaining the knowledge and skills you need for the job rather than studying areas of the law you will never use. Further, qualifying though CILEX is more closely linked to day-to-day work. What you are studying is applied to work experience from day one, vastly improving your career and employability prospects.

As a CILEX member, you will have access to a large and supportive community of like-minded legal professionals who are proud to be associated with a chartered professional association. You will also have access to an unrivalled range of study and career resources, including career guidance, legal updates and the award-winning CILEX Journal.

Those looking for a career in the law now have more options than ever before. The choices you make about your future will be about what suits you, your experience, your circumstances and your future aspirations. The CPQ offers a flexible approach to study that provides a fast track to becoming a specialist lawyer. If you want to work alongside your studies and gain the additional skills needed by the legal services employers of tomorrow then CPQ is for you.

To find out more and fast-track your legal career, visit CILEX’s dedicated CPQ page.

Linda Ford is CEO of CILEX.