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Legal executive

Legal executives specialise in one area of law and carry out similar tasks to solicitors.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £100,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need to take the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) graduate fast-track diploma to become a chartered member.

To become a chartered member, you’ll need:

  • to have completed a law degree recognised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) within the last 7 years, or
  • to have completed a common professional examination (CPE), or graduate diploma in law (GDL, sometimes known as GDip) conversion course, if you’re a non-law graduate

If you don't have any law qualifications:

  • you could work for a law firm and study part-time for a level 3 diploma or level 6 professional higher diploma, or
  • start as a clerical assistant or legal secretary

You’ll then need to work for a further 3 years before qualifying.

Even if you’re not working in a legal environment, if you meet the entry requirements, you could study for the CILEx graduate fast-track diploma full-time, part-time or at home.

CILEx has more information on becoming a legal executive.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent communication skills
  • administrative and IT skills
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • research skills
  • an organised approach
  • the ability to work under pressure

3. What you'll do

You’ll specialise in a branch of law, like:

  • conveyancing – the legal side of buying and selling property
  • probate – wills, trusts and inheritance tax
  • family law – divorce and children’s matters
  • civil litigation – disputes between people
  • criminal law – defence or prosecution of people accused of crimes
  • company and business law – tax, contracts and employment law

Depending on your specialism, your work might include:

  • advising clients and explaining legal matters
  • contacting professionals, like mortgage lenders, planning officers or other lawyers on behalf of clients
  • researching and summarising legal information
  • preparing legal documents
  • writing to clients
  • drawing up wills
  • preparing contracts
  • representing clients in court
  • preparing bills for clients

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £28,000

Experienced: £35,000 to £55,000

Highly Experienced: up to £100,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

In many full-time jobs you’ll work standard office hours Monday to Friday. Flexible hours and part-time work are often possible.

You’ll be based in an office, but may also spend some of your time at courts and police stations.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could take on more complex cases and build up a large client base. You could also progress to leading a team of legal executives and secretaries, or become a practice manager in a law firm. 

With further study, you could qualify as a solicitor.

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Last updated: 21 December 2016