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Ex-Burges Salmon trainee legal exec who ‘fabricated’ evidence banned from profession

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‘It would be undesirable for her to be involved in a legal practice’, according to regulator

A former trainee legal executive at Burges Salmon who submitted an application containing “fabricated” evidence has been told she can no longer work in the legal profession.

Gemma Luson, who was based in the firm’s Bristol office, was found to have submitted falsified evidence to her supervisor to support her application to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), the professional body and examination board for chartered legal executives, paralegals and legal secretaries in England and Wales.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said her actions were “dishonest” and that “it would be undesirable for her to be involved in a legal practice”.

Luson, who left Burges Salmon in June 2018, was made the subject of a section 43 order, which prevents her from working in a law firm without prior permission from the SRA. She is not currently employed, according to the published decision.

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A spokesperson for Burges Salmon said: “We are aware that the Solicitors Regulation Authority has now concluded its investigation regarding Ms Luson. We confirm that Ms Luson was, at the relevant time, employed at Burges Salmon as a trainee legal executive.”

They continued:

“We note the SRA’s determination that Ms Luson’s evidence in her application to become a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives was fabricated and that her conduct in this respect was dishonest. We can confirm that Ms Luson left the firm on 12 June 2018 and that no clients were affected by her conduct.”

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72 Comments

Anonymous

Inb4 the flood of anti-CILEx snobs.

Anti-CILEX snob

At least she wasn’t a real lawyer.

Anon

Y u snob?

Anonymous

I’m sorry but the CILEX route is not difficult, especially as they continue to reduce the volume of work required. A couple of years ago you had to have 5 years in practice, and demonstrate circa 30 outcomes with up to 5 examples for each outcome. All of this had to be approved and signed off by either a Solicitor/Barrister/FCilex.

Over the past couple of years they have massively reduced their standards, 5 years became 3, 5 examples became three and latterly 2 in some scenarios. In addition, the LPC can count as one year of the 3 year requirement.

Anon

That’s because cilex lawyers train and specialise in one area of law. It’s quite a logical approach. I’m very sorry if it’s difficult for you to understand.

Anonymous

Aug 20 2019 1:01PM Here – By the way I qualified via this route, when it was actually tough to get through. Now, I have little faith in the route, one only has to look at some of the examples that CILEX load on their website to assist people completing their workbooks. This is not the quality of work that should be expected.

It was a good idea when it started, it was intended to capture career paralegals, and people that had significant experience but no real development or progression opportunities. Now it has been hijacked largely by LPC/BPTC students that have been unable to obtain a training contract or pupillage, who do the bare minimum to get the qualification so that they can call themselves a lawyer.

Anon

Do you actually know what you are talking about, outcome wise? I’m assuming that they still expect you to complete the qualification? This takes 4 years minimum.

Anon

Seriously?

To become a solicitor you need a law degree, lpc and spend two years as a trainee usually spending 6 months gaining experience in 4 different areas of law.

To become cilex qualified you have to do all of the exams in the both law and practice, spend three years specialising in one area of law. Then in order to qualify you have to submit a portfolio of evidence with 47 examples of work to demonstrate competence.

Anyone who says the cilex route is easy or has low standards clearly has no experience of this first hand.

GROOOOOOT

Spot on.

Anonyman

Comparing a CILEx lawyer to someone who was admitted as a Solicitor of England & Wales is like comparing someone who is first aid qualified to a doctor.

Anonymous

More like comparing someone whose medical training was reading a newspaper while half listening to their significant other telling them about an episode of Holby City they watched a year previously compared to a doctor.

Katie

This is a very unfair unwarranted comment. The reason why Cilex even exists is to allow those who cant for financial reasons!!! Go down the traditional route. This is a fantastic way to capture talented individuals without the cost of being a lawyer. Your comment is that of a typical snob

Anonyman

Guessing that you’re CILEx qualified then?

In all honesty, you actually make a valid point. You must be rather level headed…given that you have a chip in each shoulder!

SAD!

Anonymous

Also helps those without the metal ability to pretend to be lawyers, as your incoherent post proves.

Anonymous

Yes she defo lacks the “metal ability” to be a lawyer, unlike your own good self, mr. autocorrect?-what’sthat?

Anonymous

I have the metal ability. And the avocado skills. And the drafty know-how.

But then I’m at the Chancy Bar.

Trainee legal exec

Hi Katie

I’m a trainee legal exec, doing my level 6 exams at the moment, which are very hard work and come with a high failure rate, as you know.

I agree with your point, and please ignore these idiots, they clearly don’t have a life judging by their responses. I really hope the snobbish attitude found commonly in our profession will cease to exist soon. It doesn’t exist in any other professions, so why should it exist anymore in ours?

Anon

Rubbish

Anonymous

Nonsense

Anon

More like a newly qualified cilex lawyer being a brain surgeon v a newly qualified solicitor as a gp

Anon.

Don’t feed the trolls.

Anonymous

Don’t pretend to be a lawyer.

Mrs CILEx

The royal charter and ability to commission oaths meant we don’t have to pretend! Yay CLIEx.

Next, women will get the vote! I would bet my right leg on you being 25-40, white, skinny and charmless.

Mrs CILEx

(And male but I felt that was implied)

Anonymous

Sexist comment

Anonymous

I enjoy lavish holidays – so what bruh?

Anonymous

Any ex-Burges Salmon people care to chime in on what it’s like?

Anonymous

Did some experience there back in the day, but ultimately accepted a TC in the City.

Really enjoyed my time there. I found the people helpful and lawyers really sharp. Their office is incredible. Shame it’s in Bristol though; it’s a fun enough town but just doesn’t have the capital’s buzz.

If my love affair with London ever ends I’m definitely going to try getting a job with them.

Anonymous

So good huh? Why leave. Clearly all you were after was the £££

Anonymous

Actually, between rent costs near the Burges Salmon office and that of my current London rent, I would have been better off financially in Bristol (at least in the junior years). But yes, in a few years I will have outpaced Burges Salmon mid-level/senior associate salaries by a considerable margin. Their equity partners do incredibly well though, so that’s nothing to scoff at.

Money wasn’t the deal breaker. I just love living in London. I’m sure the novelty will eventually wear off, but it hasn’t yet.

Anonymous

NQs in the City will earn more than senior associates at BS.

Mrs CILEx

Wow I do so love the anti-CLIEx brigade. ‘But I’m special – honestly I’m special!!!’.

I’m a CLIEx, TEP and a very knowledgeable and accomplished self-employed Lawyer. I could study European law, criminal law, the LPC and attain the dizzy heights of being a Solicitor, but I chose to have faith in myself and my 10 year route to specialist qualification.

My employer during my period of training post exam (2 years, like a Solicitor) was a member of your admirable profession and was a card carrying moron. I’ve met many since who are also sadly lacking in basic intelligence yet fly the flag for a profession is lowly CLIEx lawyers cannot possibly live up to.

This route is not easy, it’s for people who usually work full time and have families and maybe, like me, were in a social underclass that prevented automatic/expected university attendance. The training is at honours degree level, just in less subjects and without the horrific gladiator style ‘pick me pick me’ training contract nonsense. Talented people who show initiative – only losers clinging to a social class that no longer exists would be threatened by that.

Anonymous

Jesus, you must be fun at parties.

Mrs CILEx

I don’t go to parties.

If you don’t have a actual response, go for the lowest ‘witty’ remark you can think of. Bravo.

Anonymous

The chip on your shoulder is palpable. It’s no ones fault but yours that you aren’t a solicitor. Please just accept that.

Mrs CILEx

The chip is only here on this thread. Why would I not be defensive when I’m replying to this utter tripe. The rest of the time I’m chip free and occasionally fun.

I’m self employed, and loving my job and my life in general.

Anonymous

If you’re so happy and there no chip on the shoulder why would you feel compelled to respond?

Anonymous

So the sarcastic comment was valid… you are in fact, not fun.

Mrs CILEx

Mr CILEx would disagree 😉

Anonymous

There’s a reason you don’t get many CILEX at MC or big US level firms, having a broad ranging knowledge of law, rather than just one area, ultimately makes you a better specialist lawyer too.

There are lots of CILEX qualified lawyers who are better than many solicitors, but they’re not better than the best solicitors.

Mrs CILEx

Perhaps, it’s clearly always down to the individual.

Anonymous

Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story…

Anonymous

There’s nothing wrong with staying in your class. Research has consistently demonstrated that people who attempt to jump class end up unhappy and bitter; the social programming that they receive in their youth makes them unsuitable for the culture of the upper middle classes.

Mrs CILEx

You would have no idea of my humble roots if you met me. My father was in the forces and got cancer before the age of thirty, he almost died but happily didn’t. He left the provided housing and we went into a council house. Only person in my whole family to be ‘on benefits’ or in council housing, before or since. Thank goodness for social housing, and benefits, or we would have been in dire straits.

If my parents had been in a different position I would have had the luxury of the choice of higher education as a right. I didn’t. I’m immensely proud of what I have achieved, its all mine.

Plus, my CILEx cost me less than £6,000 I reckon. What’s the average student debt? £50k plus £10K for the LPC? No thanks.

Anonymous

How much for that almighty chip on your shoulder?

Mrs CILEx

A lot less than your superiority complex.

Back under your bridge.

Archibald Pomp O'City

“The training is at honours degree level, just in less subjects”

FEWER subjects, please.

Mrs CILEx

Sorry, I sent that whilst tired and frustrated.

Anonymous

It’s ok, you’re just a CILEX, no one expects you to be clever.

Mrs CILEx

Please, all of you accomplished and proud Solicitors who are trashing the hard-working and occasionally underrated CILEx Lawyers, post a link to your LinkedIn profile so we can all marvel at your success. And maybe a picture. We want to see to what and to whom we are looking up to!

Anonymous

There is a typo in your name. Based on that post, you must be Miss CILEx. Or maybe Ms?

Mrs CILEx

I was under the impression LinkedIn wasn’t a dating site……

Anonymous

I know a few legal execs – most of them didn’t get into their uni of choice and decided to do a working gap year. They liked the idea they could work whilst studying, then try to challenge the QLTS to become a real solicitor after two years as a qualified legal exec. Not sure what the success rate is for that plan.

Mrs CILEx

That may be so. My old boss had a 2:2 in Law from a midlands university and only got a training contract as his girlfriends dad did him a favour. He’s currently the worst practicing Solicitor your worst nightmares could imagine. Do I think I’m inferior to him? Hell no.

CILEx is not easy, a law degree at 18 would have been a walk in the park for me – I’ve just finished the STEP Diploma whilst running a business and being a mum to two children.

I didn’t go to uni as it wasn’t something people in my family did 25 years ago. But I was always clever and talented and learnt that I could maybe get into law another way. It took me 10 years (while working a 45 hour week and having 2 babies) but I did it.

If you look down on me, I pity you.

Anonymous

That’s the second mention of that boss. Did he shag you and not call you back or something?

Mrs CILEx

Wow – just wow. Would you have made that comment if I was a Mr? Loathsome pig.

Anonymous

Touched a nerve?

Anonymous

I know little about CILEx. Do people who qualify that way do well? Is it a viable way to make a decent living? Do CILEx people do work nearer to that done by paralegals or nearer to solicitors?

Mrs CILEx

I have always had my own caseload of files, apart from at one firm where they did see me in more of an assistant role, but my colleague was a solicitor and was treated there same.

I’m now 6 years qualified and in my area, Private Client, CILEx are arguably more qualified than solicitors as we receive specific Wills and Succession training at Level 6 (degree equivalent) from the get go. In the other places I have worked there is the very dull ‘only a CILEx’ from a few, but in my experience that’s from under achieving Solicitors who can’t stand to be shown up. Decent hard working people judge people on their merit and not on what university you got into!

I now have my own practice, my own office and set my own pace. I absolutely love my job.

Anonymous

I guess it depends on what you define as a decent living. CILEx make considerably less than solicitors of the same PQE… as much as 50% less. This was taken from the CILEx website: “After completion of the CILEx qualifications they can expect to earn up to £38,000. They then need three years relevant work experience to be a fully qualified Legal Executive lawyer. They can then expect to earn £35,000 – £55,000.”

To put that in perspective, I am not at one of the usual “top” City firms usually talked about on this site, but it’s a London firm and our 3PQE salaries are around £85k at the moment with a bonus if you hit ~1500 chargeable hours. Additional “discretionary” bonus based on a) how much the partner likes you and b) chargeable hours beyond that. 5PQE are around £125K and are likely to be a Senior Associate which entitles them to a significantly more generous bonus scheme. Burges Salmon solicitor salaries in Bristol are near £60k at 3PQE (no idea what their bonus scheme is, but I know they have one). The CILEx people I know are only recently qualified and none make more than £40k in London. I know a conveyancing CILEx in the regions who makes considerably less, and doesn’t expect to ever make more than £40-45k unless they qualify as a solicitor and pursue partnership at their firm.

As for quality of work, I can’t comment, but many CILEx become conveyancers and conveyancing sucks whether you are a paralegal, CILEx or solicitor.

Mrs CILEx

This makes sense, although true CILEx lawyers do a foundation A level / level 3 in the whole breadth of the law for 2 years before they do the level 6. In my particular area of law the other areas I didn’t study at level 6 (land law, European law and criminal law) would not help me in my role as a private client lawyer, which is why I chose to do the STEP Diploma instead.

I’m not saying that I could compete in the city, or with Oxbridge big firm lawyers, but I am saying I am a very competent and knowledgable lawyer in my field. No one, not having met me, can dispute that purely because I did things a different way. I have a practising certificate and a regulator.

X

I qualified via CILEx and then immediately cross qualified as a solicitor, so if you go down that route there is no pay disparity. I work at a large commercial firm based in the Manchester office and work in corporate banking – not an area typically seen with CILEx. For me it worked out quicker than a TC (I was already working here as a paralegal which counted as qualifying employment). I had also already done an LLB and LPC, so haven’t started from scratch with CILEx. I don’t think it’s anything to scoff at – it’s worked out well for me and I don’t believe I’m a less competent solicitor than others just because I’ve chosen to qualify this way.

Anonymous

Smart way around the TC rat race. Definitely requires dedication and isn’t easy. Good on you for making it to qualification. We need more solicitors like that.

Anon

Same as solicitors

Mrs CILEX 2

Don’t forget ….CILEX exams are set and assessed at honours degree level. I am very proud of my qualification and I know the quality of my work is far superior to most solicitors I have worked with.

Anonymous

Yo, can I get a hit of whatever it is that you have been smoking?

Mrs CILEX

Give me your LinkedIn and I’ll hook you up.

Anonymous

CILEX people are by definition second rate, as they well know.

Bringing Paxil Back

Stop being snobby.

None of the staff at the Free Representation Unit ever completed a pupillage or TC. Or CILEX.

Yet, they dispense legal advice to hundreds of law students in the office and encourage them go on to earn lucrative pupillages/TCs in London.

It’s absolutely 100% fine to take legal and career advice and from people who do not follow a ‘traditional’ path in law. Neither should anyone ever feel angry or defensive neither towards those who have earned pupillages or TCs.

How proud and happy would you feel sitting in a charity’s office giving legal advice, and then seeing so many young people around you go on to become solicitors and barristers? Would you really care that they earn so much more?

Mrs CILEx

Interesting to hear from the non-trolls.

I accept the training is slightly inferior, as you study less subjects and therefore know less overall. However, in my area of law, I can hold my head up high. I maintain that doing criminal law won’t help me administer estates.

Perhaps as the underdog we try a little harder. None of those trashing me and my profession would do so if they were truly secure, so maybe they have a CILEx partner / boss they curse every morning for stepping out of their ‘permitted area’. The CILEx member is commonly from a different background to the usual crowd (women / non-university), and people who like looking down on people don’t want to have to square up.

For me, I can only exceed expectations. I sense all these keyboard warriors with their witty one liners are underachievers who struggle to keep up with the big boys.

I’m out now. I have a business to run!

Anonymous

LOLZ

Bringing Paxil Back

MrsCilex, the Free Representation Unit has previously hired staff who don’t have university degrees to dispense legal advice to students and clients.

I know staff there have also applied for pupillage before.

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