CILEx Law School going stronger than ever at 35

Think back, if you can, to the hot and thundery summer of 1983…. Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe had enjoyed success at Wimbledon, while 66-1 outsiders India won the Cricket World Cup, held in England.

Acts such as The Police, Michael Jackson, Elton John and Bonnie Tyler were vying for air time on the radio as well as the top spot in the charts.

Among the big summer film releases were Return of the Jedi, Octopussy – the 13th James Bond film, Flashdance and Trading Places, helping to propel a young Eddie Murphy into the limelight.

Another very significant new arrival that summer came via the launch of CILEx Law School (CLS) – or ILEX Tutorial Services Ltd, as it was first known.

Now, 35 years on, we are celebrating our coral anniversary of providing effective, high quality and accessible training to meet the needs of those wishing to gain professional or vocational legal qualifications.

Since being set up as ILEX Tutorial Services, we have undergone two name changes, becoming ILEX Tutorial College in the 1988 before taking on the current name in March 2013 after the Institute of Legal Executives became the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in 2012.

We were based alongside CILEx within Kempston Manor, near Bedford, at the start, and in 1988 moved into our purpose-built College House.

The Tutorial Services was set up to offer all of ILEX’s professional exams by distance learning. It proved an immediate success because unlike other colleges, the Tutorial Services was able to offer the full range of ILEX courses and the flexibility of year-round enrolment.

Today we have around 4,000 students enrolled at any one time.

Our mission is to provide effective, high-quality and accessible training to meet the needs of those wishing to gain professional or vocational legal qualifications. We strive for professionalism, innovation and flexibility in course delivery, and excellence in customer service.

Noel Inge, who has been Managing Director of CLS since 1998, said: “Ever since the start we have been evolving and delivering additional courses to meet the needs of our learners.

“We introduced our face-to-face revision programme in 1984, and that is still proving as valuable now to students as it was back then. As technology has changed, we have adopted it for the benefit of our learners. We’ve launched our online course forums since 2005 and now offer a comprehensive package of support to prepare you for your exams.”

It’s always great to hear how studying with CILEx Law School has changed our students’ lives.

John Hancock told us: “As a result of my studies I have changed career and am now responsible for the legal function where I work. It is an incredibly fulfilling role within the company. My original plan was to study Contract Law at Level 3 so that I had a better idea of contract law to support my job at the time. From that I developed a real interest in the law and studied more subjects. I doubt I would have done any further subjects had it not been for CLS. The support was always there, the materials were just about right and the flexibility allowed me to fit studies around a busy job, family life and still have time for a social life.

“Nothing has ever been a problem – customer service staff have always been very responsive and dealt with my enquiries in a very personal manner making me feel as if I was the only person that mattered.”

Studying with CILEx Law School allowed Graduate member Catherine Miles to progress from a legal secretary role to her current position as a Legal Associate.

She told us: “My experience of CILEx Law School has been fantastic and I highly recommend this route – CLS is incredibly helpful and supportive, and much more in tune with the expectations and specifications of the CILEx qualifications than other course providers in my experience.

“Personally, the CILEx route has changed my life and helped me stay on track after completing my A-levels and deciding not to study law at university. I knew I wanted to go into law, I just wasn’t filled with confidence about the ‘how?’ part. The route has allowed me to see the light first and then work my way back through the tunnel.”

We ran courses for the University of London International Programmes for 30 years and now offer a joint LLB in Legal Practice with City, University of London. We have been delivering De Montfort University’s Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) by distance learning and the university’s Legal Practice Course (LPC) by open learning since 1992 and 1994 respectively.

CLS has also been working with organisations to deliver bespoke programmes and training for more than 20 years, since we first started delivering file-building training for caseworkers in the CPS in 1995.

Most recently, we have been at the forefront of delivering legal apprenticeships since they were introduced in the UK in 2013, and currently have around 400 apprentices on programmes ranging from legal administration training to professional qualification as a solicitor or Chartered Legal Executive.

Noel added: “We are constantly striving to make the legal profession open to all, and that is reflected in two awards successes already this year. We received the Modern Law Supporting the Industry Award for the work we have done in supporting our employer clients to set up apprenticeships.

“And we received the LexisNexis Award for Diversity and Inclusion for how we have opened up the profession through apprenticeships as well as the extent of our client base.

“In the last three years we have developed our team of regional assessors to help deliver legal apprenticeships, helping our staffing levels to rise by 50 per cent in just three years.”

George Denton joined Browne Jacobson, in Nottingham, as a Level 2 Legal Administration apprentice in 2012. He has since completed a Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services and is now studying for his Level 6 units as part of a Chartered Legal Executive apprenticeship.

George, who works as a Litigation Executive, said: “An apprenticeship always appealed to me. I’m someone who picks up things and learns by doing things. I did have a place at university but circumstances arose and this just became the perfect opportunity for me.

“The support I have received from CILEx Law School has been excellent and I feel proud but privileged to have been given such an opportunity.

“I would definitely recommend a legal apprenticeship to others. As well as the obvious benefits such as earning whilst you are learning, which is very appealing is given the cost of university, for me, one of the biggest benefits is the value in learning from people who are working highly in the field.”