CILEX lawyers face discrimination and unfair treatment by solicitors and law firms, a major survey of members has found. In a poll of 2,041 members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, 81% of respondents believed that the rest of the profession looks down on them and nearly nine in 10 respondents believed that the legal profession is 'ignorant about what a CILEX lawyer can do'.

According to The Pipeline, which conducted the survey, the view that CILEX lawyers are considered to be lesser lawyers than solicitors was expressed ‘repeatedly in various ways’ in the comments.

‘These views were widespread,’ said the Pipeline. ‘It seems akin to them working daily in a “hostile environment”. The barriers that all CILEX members face are compounded further if you are female, ethnic minority, or went to a non-selective state school.’

Professor Chris Bones, chair of CILEX, described the study as ‘deeply worrying, not just in terms of the treatment of lawyers who don’t fit the traditional mould, but also that it mirrors in many ways the research from the Bar Council and LawCare in flagging serious concerns about working environments both internally and in public settings such as courtrooms.

‘It is clear from the experiences of CILEX members and those of solicitors and barristers that there is a growing crisis of confidence in the capability of management right across the profession to establish systems and processes that are blind to the background of candidates for entry and promotion and entirely focused on capability and merit.’

CILEX has called on the Law Society, Bar Council, Legal Services Board and other legal organisations and regulators to meet and discuss how the situation can be tackled.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce: 'It is vitally important to treat everyone with respect regardless of their characteristics, role, or route to qualification. We are committed to creating a modern, diverse and inclusive profession and that means valuing everyone’s skills, knowledge and contributions. We are looking forward to discussing this report, among other issues, when we meet with CILEX shortly.'


This article is now closed for comment.