Ilex rebuts study saying legal execs get raw deal

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  • The point is this.
    As legals services dumb down and value for money becomes the prevailing issues, legal executives becomes more and more employable because they are cheaper.
    It's all very well boasting about being a qualified solicitor but if the market for legal services is looking for cheaper legal executives then solicitors will become redundant. In fact they already are.
    So the question is this. Going forward would you rather be an employed legal executive or an unemployed solicitor?
    This is the future.

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  • Some very interesting comments so far.
    I began working life at 16 as a Trainee Legal Executive in a small firm and studied for the ILEX Level 3 law and legal practice exams. Only part-qualified, but with 'real experience', I regularly appeared before a District Judge in chambers and handled my own caseload.
    Having taken a career break to travel, start a family etc., I then decided to study for the LL.B (Hons) at university (which would also give me exemption from my ILEX degree level law subjects).
    I studied full time, which with having young children is not easy, but I gained my LL.B with first class honours (only 3 out of 150 did) and I chose to continue with the 'ILEX route', and have in fact turned down a training contract with a firm who even offered to pay for the LPC - it seemed pointless, as those who are admitted as Legal Executive lawyers can become advocates, partners and judges.
    The degree level ILEX exams are set at 'final year' standard (Level 6), and the ILEX qualification allows for more specialist 'legal practice' study, ie: you don't have to study litigation AND conveyancing (unless you chose to) which better reflects working life.
    There are still CORE 'law' and 'skills' subjects to study, but there are options in terms of 'legal practice' subjects, allowing for expertise to be developed. Additional subjects can also be studied to provide more 'breadth' if desired/required.
    On another point, I assume that the recently appointed first Legal Executive judge gained that position having been 'in competition' with solicitors and barristers, and as far as I know the salary offered and the skills and knowledge required are the same for whoever got the position. And indeed, he will be ‘judging’ cases presented to him by solicitors and barristers !
    Another point - I think I'm right in saying that firms like Irwin Mitchell and Kennedys have Legal Executive partners - are they not 'big' firms ? I believe there are also Legal Executive partners at Keoghs and Freeth Cartwright, amongst many others. In addition I understand commercial companies like HSBC, Norwich Union, Thomas Cook, Tesco, Capital One, Vodafone and T-Mobile, amongst many others, all employ Legal Executives.
    I don't think we need to have all this discussion about 'better lawyers' - barristers, legal executives and solicitors are all professionally qualified lawyers and offer different routes into the legal profession.
    There is no room for professional snobbery in the modern legal environment and those who look down on other 'types' of lawyer are quite clearly incorrect to do so. I'm sure we've all come across good and bad examples of all types of lawyer.
    Modern, skilled, adaptable, forward thinking lawyers will prosper in the modern, ever-changing legal environment - not those clinging to 'how things were' or those with views based on outdated perceptions.

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  • Interesting that the few Legal Executives who have done very well for themselves are being touted as somehow being the norm. A small firm like Kennedy's might have the odd Legal Executive partner or two, but one suspects that they were the ones who were good enough to become solicitors in the first place. Compare the average Legal Executive to the average solicitor and I would be interested to see the result.
    To use the Kennedy's analogy, the top of the ILEX route are partners there. The top of solicitor route are partners in the Magic Circle. That's the difference isn't it?

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  • Hmm. I wonder - does that make them 'better' ?
    There were those on my law degree who got 2:1's and 2:2's and went on to be solicitors and barristers, whilst I got a 1st and chose the ILEX route - does that make them better ?
    I certainly don't think I'm any better or worse, just that I chose a different route, and I'm confident in my own skills and knowledge and proud of my qualifications, experience and competence.
    Hmmm. Not so sure Kennedy's is a small firm.
    Hmmmm. And Irwin Mitchell - a small firm ?
    Hmmmmm. There are certainly more than a few Legal Executives who have done very well for themselves.
    Another thing to consider is that the rules have only recently changed in repsect of partnership for Legal Executives, so it's going to take time to build up, but 100 in the first year or so is not a bad start. And of course the more Legal Executive partners there are then they will inevitably have more of a say in the recruitment policies of firms.
    And the judge that was mentioned ? Did he not gain the position on merit ? Again, seeing as the rules have only recently changed, it's going to take time for more judges to be appointed, more senior offices to be held, etc., etc.
    ILEX has only been around since 1963, so great strides have been made in comparison to other types of lawyer who have been around a lot longer and have become entrenched in our legal and education system over a long period of time.
    As was said before surely it should not be a discussion about 'better types of lawyer', simply different lawyers from different routes.
    To slate a whole 'type' of lawyer broad brush, in light of some of the excellent legal executives out there seems to me to be quite frankly not very objective or lawyer-like !
    I liked a job advert I saw a few years ago from a firm of solicitors which had two identical photos of a man in a suit and underneath one it said 'Solicitor?' and underneath the other it said 'Legal Executive?', and the strapline was something like 'Lawyers required - Your competence not your qualification is what counts' - referring to the fact they were not particularly interested if you were a Solicitor or a Legal Executive but whether you were good at your job, and I've seen many other jobs advertised as 'Solicitor/Legal Executive required'.

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  • If ILEX is harder to do and just as good as a conventional qualification, why would anyone bother when everyone knows ILEX is (correctly or not) considered inferior? If my client's thought I was dopey enough to choose a hard life for myself for no good reason, they would not want me advising them.

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  • Oh dear !
    I don't necessarily think the ILEX route is 'harder to do', it's just done differently (ie: part-time study whilst working in legal practice), but done to the same standard.
    It's certainly not a case of being 'dopey enough' to choose a particular route - people's circumstances vary - some may be bright enough for studying law to degree level but cannot commit time-wise or financially to university, or some may start in junior roles in law firms and excel and develop into lawyers - the list of potential reasons goes on.
    Others may have gained first class honours degrees in law, and having seen legal executive lawyers at work first-hand, have decided to follow the ILEX route as opposed to the LPC or BPTC.
    As has been said before, surely we should not be discussing 'who's best' or 'which is harder', simply that there are different types of lawyer from different routes and that all have skills to bring to the marketplace.
    Also, the 'dopey' point can be reversed in the sense that if you can become a senior lawyer, advocate, partner and judge whilst earning at the same time and having your training paid for by an employer, and without student debt etc., why would you consider that a bad thing or something to look down on !
    I believe that there are many clients out there who, upon seeing certain posts, would be very worried about the intellectual debating capacity and objective thinking ability of many who are offering opinions !
    And I'll not even get into the patronising, condescending, ill-informed naivety that would really worry clients !

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  • Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Freshfields all have turnovers between £1.1 and 1.2 billion. Kennedy's has £80m. Compared, it's a small firm. Even Irwin Mitchell at £150m would have to grow 8 times over to get to the same place, I guess they are more of a "medium" sized firm then, is it?

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  • 'I get the same feeling when Legal Execs say they are lawyers/the same etc. If that is the case, why not become a solicitor? Would it not make more sense than trying to change the world's perception of your ILEX qualification? Or is the reality that your academics are less traditional or weaker? Be honest.'
    Being honest - I simply cannot afford to go the CPE/LPC route to becoming a solicitor. Thank you ILEX for providing an opportunity for training I can complete whilst working! Not everyone has the money to get in to law the 'traditional' way.
    I think people can be fairly ignorant in the way they look at legal training (anon 8.36).

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  • I am a FILEX, i appear in court frequently opposing solicitors & barristers & frequently win. It does not matter whether i am a solicitor/barrister or FILEX what matters is whether i know the law or not. there will always be frims that look down on us thats their issue not mine. I am respected by the local courts/judges. law was a career change for me and I already have a 1st BSc(hons) not in law so i am not thick.Move with the times you try studying to degree level & working full time. I frequently train the trainee solicitors as they lack life skills and practical skills needed every day.

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  • I have a 1st classs BSc(hons) i have now changed careers & chosse ILEX, it is flexible and a lot cheaper. No debt after 4 yrs study. We can no apply to be Judges & have over 100 partners. ILEX is a valid and different route. I frequently win in court and am well respected by the local Judges. I'm happy being a FILEX why spend more time & incur debts of £15K to become a solicitor? for what reason do i need to become a solicitor? I dont FILEX is good enough and 1 filex is now a QC

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