Photo of Daniel Fitzsimmons, a Fellow of CILEx
Daniel Fitzsimmons, Chartered Legal Executive and Fellow of CILEx

By Daniel Fitzsimmons FCILEx, Chartered Legal Executive

On Monday I got the news I’ve waited years to hear. I am now a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). Because I am in “active practice” I am called a “Chartered Legal Executive”. I can also use the letters “FCILEx” after my name.

So what? This is why it matters to my clients, colleagues, and me personally.

What is CILEx?

CILEx is the professional body for Chartered Legal Executives, legal practitioners, paralegals and apprentices. Established 50 years ago, it holds a Royal Charter and is one of the three core regulators of the legal profession (the other two are the Law Society, which regulates solicitors through the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and the Bar Council, which regulates barristers through the Bar Standards Board).

CILEx represents 20,000 members and offers an alternative route to a legal qualification. This means that people, like me, can become qualified lawyers without going to university for a law degree. Instead, they get on-the-job training, study, and take exams in their own time.

How Do You Become a Chartered Legal Executive?

To qualify as a Fellow of CILEx and earn the title “Chartered Legal Executive” I had to meet the qualification criteria:

  1. Pass numerous exams in law and practice. Because I worked full-time, I attended classes and studied over evenings and weekends for my qualifications. It takes years to complete the required stages.
  2. Be in “qualifying employment” for at least 3 years, 1 of which must have been as a Graduate member of CILEx, completed after finishing the exams. Qualifying employment is “work wholly of a legal nature undertaken for at least 20 hours each week, preferably under the supervision of an authorised person (as defined in the Legal Services Act 2007)”. I met that target easily as I have continuously worked in law firms for 10 years, and been at Donoghue Solicitors for 6, working closely with our Solicitor Director Kevin Donoghue.
  3. Meet “work-based learning” outcomes. I had to provide a portfolio of evidence proving that I met 27 different learning outcomes, which included showing how I apply the law and practice, communication skills, professional conduct, client care, and many other outcomes. I gave CILEx real-life (redacted) examples of my work to prove that I met the criteria. My portfolio was well over 100 pages long, and was very time-consuming to prepare.

By satisfying these strict requirements CILEx has confirmed that I meet its “Day One Outcomes”, meaning that on my first day of employment as a Chartered Legal Executive I can apply the required knowledge, experience, and skills required to my work.

Screenshot of Daniel Fitzsimmons, FCILEx listing on CILEx's website.
Screenshot of my membership listing on the CILEx website.

Why Does it Matter?

Becoming a Chartered Legal Executive means that I have proven to my regulator that I am a competent and qualified legal professional. My commitment to the highest professional standards is reflected in the oath I must recite:

I promise to discharge diligently my duties and responsibilities as a Chartered Legal Executive. I will protect my independence as a lawyer, uphold the Rule of Law, and act at all times with integrity. I will justify the confidence and trust that is placed in me by my clients, the courts, the public and by my profession.

This impacts on clients, others, and colleagues in the following ways:

1. Clients

Current and prospective clients benefit because they know they are dealing with a professional, dedicated lawyer acting in their best interests. Compare this to Government-led changes in the legal profession which have contributed to:

  1. the growth of unregulated “McKenzie friends”. Unlike Chartered Legal Executives, solicitors, and barristers, these “advisers” are under no duty to put their clients first, and
  2. claims management companies, who do not have to work to our high ethical and professional standards.

2. Others

People I deal with in my work, such as opponent insurers, solicitors, and the courts, know from my title that they are dealing with a qualified lawyer. I demand, and expect, respect for my work and the job I do for my clients. The letters “FCILEx” after my name prove my credentials and help with that.

3. Colleagues

Lastly, my colleagues know that I am committed to my career in the law and that I have the necessary skills and determination to complete the long process of qualification.

My Admission Certificate from The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.

Thanks

On a personal note, I want to take this opportunity to thank my family for their unwavering support and encouragement. Qualifying as a Fellow of CILEx can take its toll on personal lives. In my case, I settled down and had a daughter, Olivia, with my partner, Jade while working towards becoming a Chartered Legal Executive. I could not have kept going without their patience, backing, and understanding.

I would also like to thank Kevin Donoghue, our Solicitor Director. Kevin inspired me to qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive and guided me through the process. I hope to repay his support with many more years of dedicated service to our clients at Donoghue Solicitors.

 

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