Select Committee on Social Security Fifth Report


A Brief Overview of ILEX and its Membership (PS 10 B)

  ILEX was formed in 1963 as a successor to the Solicitors' Managing Clerks Association, with the full support of the Law Society, Bar Council and judiciary. It is the professional body which represents and regulates Legal Executives and trainee legal executives in the legal profession. The current membership is over 22,000, of which about 6,000 are Fellows, its most senior grade of membership. The Institute's mission statement is as follows :

    "The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is the professional body which represents Legal Executives and enhances their role and standing in the legal profession. ILEX is the leading provider of comprehensive legal education and influences law reform."

  In its role as a representative body, the Institute lobbies for legislative and practice changes on behalf of its membership, and is active in producing responses to government consultation papers on law reform. It is an authorised body for the purposes of granting rights of audience to suitably qualified Fellows under the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, and is included as an authorised body for granting powers to conduct litigation under the Access to Justice Bill. In its regulatory role, the Institute has a code of conduct which members are required to observe. In addition, Legal Executives are required to observe the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990 where it is relevant to the work in hand. For example, Rule 15 on client care, and the associated standards that fall within it, apply equally to Legal Executives when dealing with clients. There are provisions contained in the Institute's Articles for dealing with breaches of conduct and other transgressions, and procedures for investigating complaints against its members, which is overseen by the Legal Services Ombudsman.

  The Institute has three classes of membership :

  1. Student—Those who are registered with ILEX and are preparing for the Institute's examinations.

  2. Member—Those who have passed both parts of the Membership examination but have yet to complete the required five years of qualifying employment. Can use the designatory initials M.Inst.L.Ex.

  3. Fellow—This is full membership of the Institute. Only Fellows can call themselves Legal Executives and use the designatory initial F.Inst.L.Ex after their names. In order to qualify as a Fellow, a member must have completed the Institute's membership examinations, possess at least five years qualifying employment, and be at least 25 years of age. Only Fellows have voting powers within the Institute's constitution.

  The Institute's Membership examinations consist of two Parts :

    Part I  This is the broad foundation for the knowledge of law and practice, and covers all the mainstream law and practice areas, in three hour examinations, two in law and two in practice subjects. The standard is approximately that of A level. There is an alternative method of studying the Part I via a Vocational Scheme, which is more NVQ based.

    Part II  This involves a more substantive and specialised study of law and practice, and is equivalent to degree level. This consists of three examinations in law and one in practice. The choice of which subjects to study is made by the student from a wide range of topics.

  It is also possible for a member to continue further study to qualify as a solicitor, as the ILEX route is one of the recognised routes for becoming a solicitor. Members study either through the Institute's network of colleges, or via its distance learning subsidiary ILEX Tutorial College.

  The Institute is a company limited by guarantee, and therefore has no share capital. The liability of its members on winding up is limited to £1. It has a ruling Council made up of elected Fellows of the Institute representing constituencies across England and Wales. It has three wholly owned subsidiary companies, each with their own separate constitution :

  ILEX Tutorial College—This provides distance learning courses for ILEX examinations, and also the Common Professional Examination, Legal Practice Course and Professional Skills Course of the solicitors training scheme.

  LEX (Paralegal Training) Ltd—This provides vocational and introductory courses for secretarial, administrative and paralegal staff, as well as basic law courses for those working outside the legal profession.

  LEX Publishing and Advertising Ltd—This publishes the Institute's monthly membership journal, the Legal Executive, and also provides a recruitment guide as a service to members.

  A Legal Executive has a right of audience before a court in relation to any proceedings where he is employed, and is doing so under instructions given by a qualified litigator, and the proceedings are heard in Chambers in the High Court or county court. This does not extend to reserved family proceedings. Legal Executives are also permitted to act as commissioners for oaths under the Commissioner for Oaths (Prescribed Bodies) Regulations 1995 SI 1995/1676. Further information about the Institute may be found in Halsbury's Laws of England Volume 44(1) Chapter 11.

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Prepared 15 March 1999