The good news from CILEX Lawyers
By Lorna Baldry
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives have released the results of their research into the thoughts, feelings and experiences of CILEX Lawyers, gained from their member’s insight survey. It comes in the same week as Lawcare’s Life in the Law report is published, showing the outcomes of research on the mental health and wellbeing of the legal profession.
The CILEX survey received 2,041 responses, to give some context, CILEX has around 21,000 members and Brightlink currently has around 400 CILEX learners.
For legal education and the profession, there are critical lessons to be learned from the findings of both surveys. On first reading it may be difficult to see the progress made to improve the experience of studying for and working in the legal profession to date. You may not be aware of the ongoing efforts by many in regard to awareness and bringing about a paradigm shift. This work is happening though and while we must continue to be transparent, vocal and to stand up for what is right in order to bring about further progress, there is much to celebrate and build on.
Within the first day of the report’s publication, there is already journalism out there focusing on just the narrow specifics of one of the worst aspects of the CILEX survey findings. As someone who has worked with and been incredibly inspired and impressed by CILEX professionals for almost a quarter of a century I find it incredibly disheartening that this superficial and potentially damaging approach to reporting could prevent someone from pursuing a CILEX education or career. This could be really discouraging for the wonderful CILEX Lawyers performing essential roles within the sector or training to do so.
I would encourage anyone in the legal profession who is experiencing bullying or discrimination, or indeed any behaviours which make them feel worried or victimized to report it and to speak to Lawcare. If you’re a CILEX student who is struggling, we at Brightlink would like you to know that we are here for you and keen to offer support if we possibly can. Any behaviour which makes someone upset or uncomfortable is unacceptable. We as legal professionals and academics condemn bullying and discrimination of any kind and stand against any negative treatment of lawyers and law students by colleagues or clients.
As someone who trained by undertaking a law degree and legal practice course and has worked with and for CILEX and CILEX Lawyers for the past 23 years, I can categorically tell you that their training and the assessment of their skills and knowledge are equally if not more rigorous. CILEX Lawyers often train while working and managing family and other commitments. They show incredible tenacity and resourcefulness. They are forging pathways through learning and legal practice, becoming fee earners, partners, sometimes judges and setting up business which employ others and benefit communities.
CILEX students learn all of the legal knowledge that a good lawyer needs and they do it in a very practical way. They put into practice what they’re studying, learning experientially in the workplace what to do as well as the theory and intention of why they’re doing it. Many employers say that they love to work with CILEX Lawyers as they come ready and able to do the necessary work and they know what clients need and how to work with them. Those within the profession who are making survey respondents feel as though they are ‘lesser lawyers than solicitors’ are very much mistaken.
The Brightlink team welcome CILEX plans to address the barriers that CILEX Lawyers face in their careers and we look forward to working with them on implementing that support. We’re best known for outstanding learner support and a values-based approach. For working with people to achieve career success, whatever that means to them. Our learners feel part of a community, good about their work and strong in their knowledge and skills. We want people who work with us to feel that they have a whole world of choices and opportunities in front of them.
The CILEX member insights survey shows that there is much cause for optimism and our learners have bright futures ahead of them. Survey respondents say they credit the CILEX route with their achievements and success, nine out of ten say they are proud to be a part of CILEX. The survey found that CILEX members have high expectations of themselves and we will continue to encourage them in this.
Be proud CILEX Lawyers, the profession could not provide accessible, professional and specialist legal advice and assistance without you.
If you are affected by anything discussed in this article or the publications referred to you can seek help from Lawcare here https://www.lawcare.org.uk/news/life-in-the-law-1 or on 0800 2796888
You can read more about the CILEX Member Insights Survey results here https://cilexjournal.org.uk/journal/cilex-journal-autumn-2021/features/state-of-the-nation
You can read more about Brightlink here https://brightlink.org.uk/