We work with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) to provide an alternative route to becoming a qualified lawyer. Our CILEx courses are taken part-time, so that you can continue to work while studying towards your qualification.
The CILEx education and training programme is recognised by the Ministry of Justice as one of the three main routes to becoming a qualified lawyer in England and Wales.
What is CILEx?
CILEx is an established legal professional body that represents over 20,000 trainee and practising legal executives in England and Wales.
An important feature of CILEx study is that it is open access. This means that students who have no previous legal experience or academic qualifications can start their legal education at Level 3 (equivalent to A Level standard), while those who have already completed a law degree or Graduate Diploma in Law are qualified to take the CILEx Graduate Fast-Track or CILEx Level 6 qualifications. We offer all of these at the University of Westminster.
The flexibility of the CILEx programme is increasingly popular with students and with employers, who are able to train their staff in a variety of ways – from selecting individual parts of the training for staff they want to develop in just one area of law or practice, to full training and qualification as a legal executive, and supporting staff with law degrees.
There are CILEx-qualified lawyers at most top law firms; some go on to become partners, while others have been appointed as district judges and tribunal chairmen, or become specialist advocates.
What is a legal executive lawyer?
A legal executive lawyer specialises in a particular area of law. Fully qualified and experienced chartered legal executive lawyers undertake many of the legal activities that solicitors do. For example, they will have their own clients (with full conduct of cases) and can undertake representation in court.
How do I qualify as a legal executive lawyer?
To undertake the academic stage of training as a legal executive lawyer, you must be over 16 years old and have registered as a member with CILEx. The academic stage of qualification as a legal executive lawyer can be broken down into the following phases (depending on your entry level):
- CILEx Level 3 Certificate and the Diploma in Law and Practice
These two awards, each taking one year to study, form the academic stage of training. You can study for these awards without any previous legal experience or qualifications, but you need both to continue to the Level 6 academic stage of your training.
- CILEx Level 6 Higher Diploma in Law and Practice
This two-year, part-time course forms the second academic stage to becoming a legal executive lawyer.
Once you have completed the Level 3 stage of your academic training you will become an associate member of CILEx; after you complete the Level 6 stage you will become a graduate member of CILEx.
Alternatively, if you already hold a qualifying law degree, the University of Westminster also offers a Level 6 Graduate Fast Track Diploma. This one-year course will equip you with the practice and professional skills you need to enter into the legal sector.
Whichever academic training route you take, you will also need to complete three years’ qualifying employment to become a fellow of CILEx. For further details, please see the CILEx website on qualifying employment.
How do I use my CILEx qualification to become a solicitor?
To become a solicitor you must study at graduate level (the academic training stage) and postgraduate level (the vocational training stage), as well as gaining an approved level of work experience. The rules on how to qualify as a solicitor are set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and explained in their Training Regulations 2011.
Although the 'traditional' route to becoming a solicitor is to complete the academic training stage by taking a law degree, alternative routes to qualification – particularly the chartered legal executive route – are increasingly popular.
Specialising in single subjects
If you are not looking to qualify as a legal executive lawyer, but do need to achieve recognition in a specific professional area of law and legal practice, we offer a wide range of Single Subject Certificates. If you later decide to train to become a legal executive lawyer, these individual units can count towards your qualification.
Why study at Westminster?
Unlike many other CILEx providers, we are a university and can offer a vibrant learning environment within the University of Westminster Law School. We are based in Little Titchfield Street just behind Oxford Street, so our students benefit from excellent transport links and our full range of learning resources, including the Law School Library, Lexis Library, Lawtel and Westlaw.
Your lectures and seminars will be delivered by seasoned legal professionals with industry experience drawn from the ranks of academics, solicitors and barristers, and your personal tutor is there to help you with enquiries or other needs.
What’s more, you will be able to contact your CILEx mentor, who can offer support with your academic studies. You will have access to our excellent pastoral care and counselling service as well as our written English workshops, our careers team and guidance on CVs. During the academic year, you will also be invited to various ad hoc events, which will give you opportunity to network with CILEx, learn more about legal executive lawyers and meet legal executive fellows.
Our CILEx courses are competitively priced and run on a part-time evening basis, giving you the opportunity to work while studying. We also have strong links with the CILEx London branch who have helped provide career advice to our students.