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By Alex Aldridge on

Barefoot lawyer

Diane Burleigh

During Diane Burleigh’s 16 years at the helm of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), the status of chartered legal executives has soared.

Long considered the poor relation of the legal profession, convention-busting Burleigh (pictured above shoeless at the 2012 event where CILEx was awarded its royal charter) has fought hard to get chartered legal execs onto a level playing field with barristers and solicitors.

With the Legal Services Act (LSA) having got rid of restrictions preventing chartered legal execs from becoming partners and some types of judges, and big law firms like Clyde & Co and Addleshaw Goddard embracing legal apprenticeships (which lead to the CILEx qualification), Burleigh leaves CILEx in a transformed state as she retires at the end of the year.

It was appropriate that her leaving do last night was held at London’s Foundling Museum — a former home for deserted children who were then helped into apprenticeships and training. Law needs more of the non-graduate mavericks who come through the CILEx route, and Burleigh, a super well-connected former solicitor, has helped awaken the wider legal profession to the benefits of being more open-minded about recruitment.

Certainly, know you’ve done something right when the head of the Supreme Court comes to your retirement bash

Photograph 1 - Lord Neuberger_Diane Burleigh_Frances Edwards