A range of senior judicial positions are now open to CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) members for the first time, as new legislation came into force. The statutory instrument amending the Judicial Appointments Order 2008, has been described by justice minister Lord Bellamy as an “important change” and “another step towards it being a lawyer’s merit, rather than their particular method of obtaining their legal qualification, that determines suitability for judicial appointment”.
The change will mean that suitably qualified CILEX Lawyers can now apply to become Recorders and Upper Tribunal judges, where previously they were unable to apply for posts higher than district judge. CILEX Lawyers will now be able to preside in the Crown Court and on appeals in important tribunal matters.
Recognising the impact that CILEX judges could have on improving the diversity of the judiciary, Lord Bellamy stated that:
“CILEX offers an important route to increasing judicial diversity. It is interesting to note that 77% of CILEX fellows are women. Additionally, CILEX provides a non-graduate route to becoming a lawyer; it can and does attract candidates from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, with considerable benefits for social mobility.”
The change further strengthens the position of the CILEx in the legal pantheon and follows moves earlier this year to strengthen its role when it took over The Institute of Paralegals (IoP) and its Professional Paralegal Register (PPR). The IoP, which began operating in 2005, has around 1,000 members, more than three-quarters of whom are on the PPR, a voluntary regulator set up in 2015. There are a further 200 members of other paralegal organisations on the PPR. Around 44% of IoP members are in law firms – the rest work in a wide variety of settings, from companies and charities to local and other public authorities, such as the NHS (for example, as contract managers). Some run their own businesses.
The acquisition was intended to boost consumer confidence in the provision of legal services, ensuring paralegals have the necessary experience, training and regulation. As the pioneer of the non-university route into law, CILEX has grown its influence and membership in recent years, opening up the profession to make it more diverse and representative of the society it serves.
The development comes as regulatory lawyer Emma Davies takes over as the 60th President of CILEx. Emma specialises in regulatory law at the Royal College of Nursing where she represents members subject to Nursing & Midwifery Council proceedings. She began her legal career almost 20 years ago, training as a Chartered Legal Executive whilst working as a legal secretary at Exeter firm, Symes Robinson & Lee Solicitors before joining Rundlewalker Solicitors as a personal injury lawyer.
CILEX has also secured support in principle to making legislative and policy changes to enable CILEX Lawyers to become Crown Prosecutors and government agreement to widen access to the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme by removing contractual barriers preventing CILEX-qualified criminal practitioners from becoming police station duty lawyers.