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CILEx launches SQE rival for school leavers

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Training body creates new route to lawyer qualification which will cost a maximum of £12.5k

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has launched a pathway to qualification as a lawyer for non-graduates that it says will be “substantially more affordable” than the solicitor super-exam.

The legal exec training body has revealed a progressive, three stage route to qualification — Foundation, Advanced and Professional — that looks set to rival the regulator-backed Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

The first two stages of the CILEx Professional Qualification (CPQ) are aligned to the role of a paralegal, while the third and final stage focuses on preparing candidates for life as a CILEx lawyer (formerly known as a chartered legal executive) with full practice rights. Previously, legal execs had to take a further qualification to secure practice rights.

Each stage takes between 18 months and two years to complete, and sees students undertake a series of assessed modules alongside legal work. The stages themselves are broken down into three sub-sections: core legal knowledge and skills; ethics and professional responsibility; and professional work experience.

CILEx says the revamped route will combine legal knowledge with the skills, behaviours and commercial awareness budding lawyers, as well as introduce mandatory elements of legal technology, business skills and emotional intelligence for the first time in legal training.

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It will take school leavers around six years to complete, although those who have already completed an undergraduate degree and professional qualification (the Legal Practice Course or Bar Training Course, for example) can progress straight to the final stage.

By not making a degree or equivalent qualification a pre-requisite, unlike the SQE, CILEx says its new route will cost a maximum of £12,500 — Foundation (£3,700), Advanced (£5,900) and Professional (£2,900). By comparison, the body reckons lawyer hopefuls will have to cough-up as much as £40,000 to complete an undergraduate degree, as well prepare for and sit the SQE.

CILEx chief executive Linda Ford said: “CPQ recognises that a successful career in the law requires more than just legal knowledge. By blending academic studies with practice-based experience throughout the qualification and the addition of a wider set of business and personal effectiveness competencies, the next generation of CILEx lawyers will have the skills needed to adapt, innovate and enhance how legal services are delivered to meet evolving consumer needs.”

Subject to final regulatory approval, CPQ will open for enrolment in June.

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