Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
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|Legal status||Royal Charter (since 2012)|
|Headquarters||Bedford, United Kingdom|
|England and Wales|
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) is the professional body for Chartered Legal Executives in England and Wales and an examination board providing qualifications for Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals and legal secretaries.
The Institute of Legal Executives as it stands was established in 1963 with the help of the Law Society of England and Wales to provide a more formal process for training so-called "solicitors' clerks". Prior to that the Institute had various incarnations dating back to 1892. Charles Dickens was a solicitor's clerk (he drew on his experience for characters in his novels, and a solicitor's managing clerk is featured in Galsworthy's Justice).
Traditionally, solicitors' clerks were not formally trained in law, but through experience had built up a working knowledge of specific aspects and could carry out legal paperwork as a fee earner. The creation of the Institute of Legal Executives meant that solicitors' clerks became qualified "legal executives" (holding a practising certificate and having a similar role to solicitors in practicing law). Legal Executive Lawyers gained rights that allow them to become partners in law firms, advocates with rights of audience in Court and also judges.
On 13 October 2011 the Institute of Legal Executives (as a company limited by guarantee) sought Royal Charter status from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II via the Privy Council. A Royal Charter was granted in 2012 and the Institute of Legal Executives became the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives "CILEx".
CILEx set out to create a formal process for training legal support staff that would be recognised and respected in the legal community. With growing recognition The institute's purpose has evolved: it now has its own front line regulator, CILEx Regulation (formerly ILEX Professional Standards or IPS) and provides a vocational career route from trainee to professional lawyer. Law graduates may also take an alternative route to becoming a solicitor by taking CILEx's Graduate Fast-track Diploma.
The profile of the institute's membership is also changing. Some of the most able Chartered Legal Executives are now law firm partners and Chartered Legal Executives can also become coroners and Judges in England and Wales. In late 2014 CILEx lawyer members were granted independent practice rights, which means that they do not have to have their work signed-off by solicitors and can run their own firms as sole practitioners. In January 2015 the LSB granted CILEx entity rights to regulate law firms.