Editor’s weekly: The third arm of the law?

The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is hosting a drinks reception at the House of Commons next week.

The high profile event is to celebrate the fact that there are now 100 legal executive lawyers who have been promoted to partners in law firms and the appointment of the first legal executive judge.

Indeed, ILEX has in recent months been on an aggressive marketing drive to help raise the profile of legal executives claiming for instance that there has been a 40 per cent jump in the number of students taking the ILEX route into the legal profession (read more).

But before ILEX pops open the champagne it might want to take a closer look at research carried out by Keele University senior lecturer Dr Andrew Francis. It found that legal executives remain the underdogs of the legal profession despite ILEX’s attempts to make the role the third career path, as reported by Lawyer2B.com on Monday (28 February).

Speaking at an Inner Temple seminar on the ’Future of Legal Education’ last month (February), Francis referred to legal executives consistently reporting subordination and structural constraints.

“In the workplace [they] reported being looked down upon in encounters with other legal professionals, marginalised in the allocation of work and in terms of remuneration,” he said. “The picture still remains. There are solicitors, there are barristers and some way after, when people remember, there are legal executives.”

ILEX’s CEO Diane Burleigh denied the findings. “While there is snobbery in the legal profession, this merely reflects poorly on the solicitors and barristers guilty of it, rather than on legal executives,” she said.

Regardless of whom you choose to side with Francis’ research has certainly ruffled a few feathers in both camps. What is also clear is that even though many of you will be able to craft perfectly good careers by going down the legal executive route ILEX still has its work cut it if it wants to silence its critics.


PS – “Not too late for Law”, Lawyer 2B and the College of Law’s careers evening for mature applicants has been rescheduled for Tuesday 19 April. Click here for more information.