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How To Qualify As A Lawyer Without Attending University

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With the ever rising fees to attend university, and the even longer years of debt which follow, many aspiring lawyers may think that hope is lost. However, you do not need to attend university to reach your goals.

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (“CILEx”) is the most accessible route to a career in law enabling you to earn while you learn. There are various entry levels depending upon your qualifications and experience, such as: 

Student Member -  for those with no legal experience or qualifications.

Affiliate Member  -  for those who have completed one CILEx level 3 or 4 qualification or have a minimum of 3 years legal experience.

Associate Member -  for those who have completed the CILEx level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice or graduates with qualifying law degrees.

Graduate Member -  for those who have completed level 3 and level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice; a Graduate Fast-Track Diploma; or Graduates of the LPC or BPTC. 

Fellow -  Once a Graduate Member has completed a period of qualifying employment you will become a Fellow, a qualified lawyer and entitle to use the term Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer.  


What Rights Do Chartered Legal Executive Lawyers Have?

The roles of Solicitors and Legal Executives are becoming closer all the time.  Chartered Legal Executives can represent clients in Court, become advocates or become Judges and be partners in law firms.


How Do I Become A Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer?

The course is offered in two ways:-


  1. Colleges offering the course, usually one day a week.
  2. Distance learning through CILEx Law School.

To gain the level 3 Diploma in Law in Practice you must complete a total of 10 Units with a minimum of 7 in law and 2 in practice.  These are assessed by exams.  There are a further 2 units for professional development which are assessment based.  This course is usually completed within 2 years. 

The level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice requires completion of 3 law papers and 1 practice together with the professional development units. 


CILEx offers various routes and courses to suite your particular journey and can offer guidance and assistance on any exemptions you are entitled to.  The best thing about it is you can learn while you earn and gain on the job experience. This enables you to figure out which area of law you are interested in and you gain practical training whilst in employment.


I started as a Student Member whilst working as a secretary and attended college one day a week.  The course is flexible and allows you to learn at your own pace.  After I completed my level 3 I took a couple of years off to start a family.  I am currently an Associate Member studying level 6 distance learning through the CILEx Law School.  I have found the CILEx course helped me with my day to day duties at work.  It is helpful to use what I have learnt and see how the theory works in practice and is a good revision aide. 

Of course, this option will not be for everyone but it is certainly something to think about.