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Can I switch from chartered legal executive to solicitor?

updated on 16 July 2019

Dear Oracle

I passed the LPC two years ago and have been working as a paralegal. With no training contract in sight, can I become a chartered legal executive and go on to qualify as a solicitor that way?

The Oracle replies

It is possible to qualify as a solicitor after becoming a legal executive. The regulations on switching from legal executive to solicitor are also quite flexible – you can complete the LPC before or after becoming a member of CILEx, so you shouldn’t encounter problems on that front.

A career as a CILEx lawyer is a rewarding and fulfilling professional destination in its own right, and it may be that you find having qualified as a CILEx fellow, you have found your dream career and no longer want to switch. However, you may choose to use the experience and qualifications you have gained as a legal executive to count towards qualifying as a solicitor.

As an LPC graduate you are exempt from doing the CILEx academic qualifications - all you need is three years' qualifying employment to qualify as a legal executive. And you may have already gained some of that experience through your paralegal work. One year of your qualifying experience needs to take place after you have gained the GCILEx level of membership, while up to two years of your previous paralegal experience may count toward the three-year total. 

As a practising chartered legal executive who has completed the LPC, you would then be exempt from having to complete a 'period of recognised training' (still commonly referred to as a training contract) and would not need to apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for this exemption. You would also be exempt from elements of the Professional Skills Course. 

In order to qualify as a solicitor, you would provide evidence of your status as a qualified legal executive to the SRA, after which point you would be all set to be admitted to the roll. 

Here is more information about the alternative ways to qualify as a solicitor without a training contract.