Can I switch from chartered legal executive to solicitor?

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.

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Recent comments

Anonymous | 22/05/2018 22:44 PM

Dear Oracle, Thanks for this post but your last two paragraphs appear at odds with what is said in the Equivalent Means Information Pack to be found on the SRA website. I quote it here as regards the CILEX route to qualifying as a solicitor: Exemption from the period of recognised training If you are a Chartered Legal Executive who has satisfied the requirements of the academic stage through study or exemptions granted, and completed the LPC, and been engaged as a Chartered Legal Executive in the practice of law, we will exempt you from the requirement to undertake a period of recognised training as required by regulation 5 of the Training Regulations 2014. You are also exempt from the elective elements of the Professional Skills Course. This exemption is automatic and you do not need to apply to us. However, when you apply to be admitted as a solicitor, you will need to provide us with evidence of your qualification as a Chartered Legal Executive. This does not mention anything about needing contentious and non-contentious work experience or that the exemption is at the SRA's discretion - the exemption is "automatic" once the stated requirements are met. I would be interested to know where you heard or read otherwise.

Joshua Richman | 23/05/2018 10:06 AM

Hi, thanks for your comment. You are right about the information as stated in the SRA's Equivalent Means Information Pack. In the last two paragraphs of the above article, we unfortunately got it wrong on this occasion. The article has now been updated to reflect the automatic nature of the exemptions afforded to chartered legal executives wishing to qualify as solicitors.