How is a legal executive different from other law careers?
When most people think of the legal profession they think of solicitors and barristers. Few people really consider legal executives. Legal executives are legal experts who are hired by clients to complete legal work for them.
The role of the legal executive has always been closely linked with that of the solicitor and since 2007 there’s been very few differences between them, apart from the entry route into the profession.
How do I become a legal executive?
The route to becoming a solicitor is generally fairly straightforward and in most cases will take six years, starting from the age of 18. The route to becoming a legal executive, on the other hand, is more fluid and you can set out on this path as young as 16, once you have got your GCSEs. Alternatively, you can enter the profession by landing a graduate job or through work experience.
Legal executives are experts in the law and provide advice and counsel to their clients. Their role often overlaps with the role of solicitors. In most instances, when you visit a law firm it can be difficult to tell whether you have been dealing with a solicitor or a legal executive without looking at their title.
What skills should legal executives possess?
As a legal executive, you will have to be able to handle huge amounts of data in various documents and have the ability to quickly extract the relevant legal arguments.
You can expect long hours and you will have to work under pressure to tight deadlines. All lawyers are able to specialise in a plethora of different areas of law. The area of law you specialise in will have an impact on the hours you work and the pressure you will be under, but this is also usually reflected in your pay packet!
Legal executives work in client-facing roles, so you will also need to be able to get on with a large variety of people and explain complicated legal issues in layman’s terms. In some instances, you will have to present in court, so you will also need confidence in your oratory skills.
Is becoming a legal executive the right law path for me?
If you have considered law and you aspire to be a lawyer, but university isn’t for you, then this is a definite option. It is important to know that it will take several years and you will be earning a relatively low wage for the first few years, but ultimately you could start to earn a comparable salary to other lawyers. Legal executives can even become judges too!
Becoming a legal executive is also a popular option for law graduates who are finding it hard to gain a training contract. Consequently, the CILEx (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) graduate scheme is certainly well worth considering.