Legal executives have this week been offered the chance to apply to gain practice rights in immigration and litigation.
ILEX Professional Standards (IPS), the regulator for members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), opened the application process yesterday.
Chartered legal executives will be able to seek authorisation to conduct litigation with associated advocacy rights in criminal, civil or family fields, or provide immigration services, without supervision by an authorised person such as a solicitor.
Alan Kershaw (pictured), chair of IPS, said the new rights give members the chance to practise in their own names rather than as someone else's employee.
'Unlike other lawyers, CILEx members do not get these rights automatically on qualifying, but must prove they have the knowledge, skills and experience to do the job,' Kershaw said. 'This protects consumers and gives them confidence in the specialist expertise chartered legal executive lawyers have.'
Once approved, successful applicants will be able to call themselves chartered legal executive litigators and advocates, or chartered legal executive immigration practitioners.
Practice rights in conveyancing and probate were approved by the House of Commons earlier this month and are now awaiting approval in the Lords.
Parliament is also set to debate giving IPS more powers to intervene in failing firms and to establish a compensation fund along the lines of that applied to solicitor firms.
This could be rubber-stamped in early 2015, after which practitioners will have the chance to set up their own businesses.
CILEx says it represents more than 20,000 legal executives, paralegals and legal professionals.