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About the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ)

The CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ) provides the route to become authorised as a Chartered Legal Executive (CLE) and a CILEX Lawyer. The CPQ journey consists not only of formally assessed learning, but also incorporates Professional Experience at each stage to ensure that learners not only acquire knowledge and skills, but also successfully demonstrate them in the workplace.

What is the CPQ route?

The competency-based qualification framework has core legal knowledge and commercial awareness at its heart allowing for focus on specialist areas of law from an early stage.

The progressive nature of the CPQ over a number of stages and years is designed to build confidence allowing learners to obtain a qualification at each stage, with the choice to progress to the next stage or pausing at the level of qualification they require.

  • Foundation stage complete, including a compulsory Ethics and Professional Responsibility module and Professional Experience = CILEX Paralegal
  • Foundation and advanced stage complete, including both compulsory Ethics and Professional Responsibility modules and Professional Experience = CILEX Advanced Paralegal
  • Foundation, advanced and professional qualification stages of the CPQ complete, including both compulsory Ethics and Professional Responsibility modules, and Professional Experience = CILEX Lawyer


Each stage of the CPQ combines a focus on technical expertise and practical skills with the development of the core behaviours required to create forward-thinking, commercially minded, adaptable lawyers who really understand the clients they serve.

The CPQ route requires that to be authorised as a CLE and become a CILEX Lawyer you must:

  • demonstrate technical knowledge (CILEX exams);
  • engage in a period of qualifying experience (QE);
  • compile a portfolio of evidence that shows how you meet the expected competencies required for your chosen specialism; and,
  • satisfy character and suitability requirements.

Additionally, in the areas of Dispute Resolution (Civil Litigation), Family Litigation and Criminal Litigation, there is an additional requirement to complete an advocacy skills course.

CPQ elements explained



The CPQ consists of a number of qualifications, with learners entering at the stage suitable to their existing qualifications.


CILEX Certificate in Legal Practice

The Certificate in Legal Practice is an introductory legal qualification on the CPQ Framework.  This qualification aims to create a route into studying law for those either not in legal work but wishing to explore that option, or those in a junior role wanting to increase their legal knowledge to perform their current role better or in preparation for developing into a full paralegal role in the future.

It is not a pre-requisite for entry to the CPQ for the Certificate of Legal Practice to be completed as entry can start at the CPQ Foundation stage, however those who do complete the Certificate in Legal Practice will be able to progress onto CPQ Foundation stage and their CILEX Certificate will entitle them to exemptions from two or more CPQ Foundation stage module exams.

Suitable for: Non-law graduates

Outcome: Learners who complete the CILEX Certificate in Legal Practice may progress onto CPQ Foundation stage with the exemptions for CPQ Legal Systems and Professional and Legal Skills modules

CPQ Foundation

The CPQ Foundation stage provides a broad foundational knowledge of law and its practical application with five compulsory modules.  Learners must also complete the first of the Ethics and Professional Responsibility e-learning modules and gain professional experience.

Suitable for: Non-law graduates

Outcome: Learners who complete this level of qualification will become CILEX Paralegals. Learners can continue their legal journey onto the CPQ Advanced stage.

CPQ Advanced

The CPQ Advanced stage builds on the knowledge acquired in CPQ Foundation stage. At this stage there are four mandatory modules and one optional module in a chosen specialist area.  Learners must also complete the second Ethics and Professional Responsibility module together and gain professional experience.

Suitable for: Suitable for those who have completed CPQ Foundation (CILEX Paralegals)

Outcome: Learners who complete this level of qualification will be accredited as CILEX Advanced Paralegals and can continue their legal journey onto the CPQ Professional stage.

CPQ Advanced (Law Graduate Entry)

The CPQ Advanced Stage (Law Graduate Entry) enables those who have completed an LLB Law Degree or GDL to join CILEX as a CILEX Paralegal and begin specialising immediately.  The programme has been designed to reflect the legal knowledge already acquired as part of the LLB or GDL and to allow focus on a chosen specialist area of practice.   Learners will complete up to three mandatory modules and one optional module in their chosen specialist area.  Learners must also complete two Ethics and Professional Responsibility modules and gain professional experience.

Suitable for: Law graduates (LLB and GDL)

Outcome: Learners who complete this level of qualification will be accredited as CILEX Advanced Paralegals. Learners can continue their legal journey onto the CPQ Professional stage with the aim of becoming a CILEX Lawyer and achieving practice rights in their chose specialism.

CPQ Professional

The CPQ Professional stage is the final stage of the CPQ.  Learners must complete a mandatory professional skills module, consisting of a work based project together with an additional optional module in the chosen specialist area for practice rights, and is underpinned by the choice made at the Advanced Stage.  Learners who have completed a LLB Law Degree/GDL and the Legal Practice Course can enter the CPQ at this stage however must also complete the associated CPQ Advanced Stage module and two Ethics and Professional Responsibility modules.

Learners on the CPQ Professional stage are required to evidence their competence via their Professional Experience portfolio. At this stage, their professional competence will also be assessed by CILEX Regulation, thus allowing a trainee to be authorised to practice in a specialist area of law.

Suitable for: Learners who have completed CPQ Advanced (CILEX Advanced Paralegals), LPC, BPTC or equivalent.

Outcome: Learners who complete this level of qualification will become CILEX Lawyers. CILEX Lawyer is a professional designation that confers the same practice rights in the chosen specialism as those enjoyed by a solicitor.

NOTE: Completion of a CRL approved advocacy course is a requirement to achieve CILEX Lawyer status in the litigation pathways; Dispute Resolution/Civil Litigation; Family Litigation and Criminal Litigation.

Qualifying experience

You don’t need to have a training contract or graduate placement to start on CPQ – you can even start CPQ before you start your job, though you will need to demonstrate law-related work in order to develop your work experience portfolio and progress through the stages.   The professional experience achieved alongside the set exams and ethics modules will allow you to meet the requirements of the CILEX Education Standard on completion of each stage of the CPQ.

What is qualifying experience?

How can I gain qualifying experience?

Can I rely on unpaid internships or voluntary work as qualifying experience?

What duties and responsibilities would meet the definition of qualifying experience?

Do I need to be supervised?

Portfolio of evidence

You will need to evidence your competence against the relevant competences in the CILEX Professional Competency Framework. This competence will need to be validated by your employer for successful completion of each stage and for the corresponding membership grade to be awarded.


CPQ Foundation and Advanced stages

You will be required to write a statement or ‘narrative’ for each behaviour/activity showing how you meet the standards for the specific behaviour/activity as set out in the Professional Competency Framework and provide examples of how you personally are applying each behaviour/activity in your place of work. The Professional Experience is an important part of the CPQ journey and therefore your supervisor will be required to provide feedback to support your submission.


CPQ Professional

The evidence provided will need to meet the requirements of the CRL Education Standards to enable the award of Chartered Legal Executive status. A minimum of 2,300 hours qualifying experience will be required with at least 1 year served in the Advanced Paralegal grade of membership.

At CPQ Professional stage, you will need to compile a portfolio of professional experience to show that you meet both:

  • the CPQ Professional stage Professional Experience requirement; and
  • the CRL Education Standards Competences for your specialism – the portfolio

Character and suitability requirements

At the time you apply to have your experience assessed against the qualifying experience criteria, CILEX Regulation will ask you some questions about your background through a statement of prior conduct in the application form. By completing this declaration, you are confirming that you want your suitability for admission as a chartered legal executive to be assessed by CILEx Regulation in accordance with the Enforcement Rules and in line with the Code of Conduct.

What happens if I am already studying a CILEX qualification?

With the introduction of CPQ, your current qualifications continue to be valid. If you have completed the Level 6 Diploma, CILEX advises that you should continue to qualify as a Fellow using the current work-based learning portfolio process and then gain your practice rights by becoming a CILEX Practitioner – either by portfolio or via the new ‘fast track’ route which is shortly to be announced by CILEX directly.

If a learner has completed the CILEX Level 3 Diploma with the necessary units to gain exemptions against CPQ Foundation stage, they can either enrol on to CPQ Advanced or on to the current Level 6 Diploma. More information on transitioning to CPQ can be found here.

What fees do I need to pay?

There are three separate fees for the CPQ, consisting of:

  1. CILEX membership fees
  2. Purchasing CPQ registration* from CILEX
  3. Purchasing the tuition from your chosen training provider


*Exam fees are included when you purchase a full CPQ Stage registration with CILEX. If you’ve purchased your CPQ registration on a modular basis with CILEX, there will be an exam fee for each exam entry. If you prefer not to pay for each exam separately, you’ll need to purchase a full registration with CILEX.

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