Solicitor and barrister are not the only routes into law: Legal Executives are also recognised qualified lawyers.
The work training of a legal executive lawyer is similar to solicitors although they tend to specialise in one area of law, such as civil litigation, criminal litigation, family law, conveyancing, public law, private client and corporate work.
Students ‘earn as they learn’, gaining experience in a law firm, and earning between £15,000 - £28,000 (starting salary), whilst studying at evening or weekend classes, or via distance learning.
The system of learning is flexible so you can take as long as you need to qualify.
Qualified legal executive lawyers can earn expect to earn between £35,000 - £50,000, with many earning far beyond this.
Becoming a legal executive
Alongside ‘on-the-job’ training, aspiring legal executive lawyers study qualifications set by the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX). Training can be via college evening classes, or by supported distance learning from one of 90 approved study centres across England and Wales. Most ILEX students are either working in a legal job when they start their studies, or get a job as a trainee legal executive lawyer during their studies. Many employers will pay all of some of the study fees involved.
These are ideal for those who can’t afford university or the high postgraduate course fees associated with the traditional routes to become a solicitor or barrister, particularly for non-law graduates.
Routes to qualification
Applicants need a minimum of 4 GCSE’s to apply to study through ILEX
Applicants need to complete two qualifications: the first stage is equivalent to A-level standard, and the second is equivalent to honours degree level. To study both usually takes four years of part-time study (eight hours a week), via evening classes or distance learning, or 2 years of fulltime study. To take both stages costs up to around £7000, although many study centres charge less if they are able to access grants or government funding.
This is very cost-effective compared to university fees, currently at around £9000 per year, plus the average student debt on leaving university is around £30,000 and there are further post-graduates fees to become a solicitor or barrister.
What’s more, more than 80% of university law applicants will be rejected, averagely.
Benefits of the legal executive route
▪ GCSEs: The course is open to all - although a minimum of 4 GCSE qualifications is advised.
▪ Students can adopt a flexible approach to studying by choosing a pace suited to their individual circumstances and commitments. This flexibility is ideal for those who wish to fast track their career; who need to fit study time around their family; those who are studying to change their career path; or those with a busy day job.
• Combining study with full-time work can enable those studying to be Legal Executives to earn around £65,000 over the usual 4 year study period.
• Salaries vary according to your location and area of law. Starting salaries are usually £15,000 -£28,000 per year whilst qualifying. When you have finished your ILEX qualifications you can expect to earn up to £38,000. Fully qualified legal executive lawyers can expect to earn £35,000 - £55,000, and you can earn much more.