Regulatory lawyer, Emma Davies, has taken over as the 60th President of CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) and 13th female president.
Speaking at her inauguration on 18 July 2023, she reflected on the huge strides CILEX has made in the past year to remove barriers and secure equality of opportunity for its members, and prioritised achieving parity for CILEX Lawyers in the workplace during her time in office.
Legislative and policy changes secured over the past year include amendments to the Judicial Appointments Order 2008 that in June opened up more senior judicial roles to CILEX Lawyers, the Powers of Attorney Bill, containing changes permitting CILEX Lawyers to certify copies of Powers of Attorney which is currently making its way through Parliament, and securing parity of funding between apprentices qualifying as solicitors and those qualifying as CILEX Lawyers, for the first time.
CILEX has also secured support in principle to making legislative and policy changes to enable CILEX Lawyers to become Crown Prosecutors and government agreement to widen access to the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme by removing contractual barriers preventing CILEX-qualified criminal practitioners from becoming police station duty lawyers.
Speaking at a member event in Exeter in Devon to mark her inauguration, Emma, said:
“After many years of lobbying and campaigning CILEX has seen some big wins in removing the legislative and policy barriers to CILEX Lawyers having the same career opportunities as solicitors. These are considerable achievements – the barriers continue to fall and CILEX continues to chip away at any that remain.”
Outlining her priorities for the coming year she acknowledged the need for these reforms to be supported by cultural and attitudinal changes in the workplace at a time when many legal employers still fail to recognise the competence and equivalence of CILEX Lawyers in their recruitment, pay and career progression policies.
She said her focus would be pushing for ‘parity in the workplace’, ensuring members ‘have the careers they want and deserve without limitations’ and ‘are afforded the same career development opportunities as other legal colleagues’ with career progression based on merit not title or background.
Referring to outdated perceptions about the value of vocational education and the prejudice faced by some CILEX members, she announced:
“I have a request to the wider legal sector. I ask that we change the narrative once and for all and focus on what our members bring to the table, rather than undermine how we got there. A united and diverse legal profession will only better serve our diverse society.”
Following the acquisition of the Institute of Paralegals, Emma welcomed CILEX‘s new paralegal members, highlighting the role of CILEX as a home for all specialist lawyers and paralegals, acknowledging the paralegal role is a career in its own right.
”We are the home for all aspiring legal professionals who cannot afford to go to university, who do not want to go to university, or quite simply who see the value in our vocational route to qualification as an all-round package, whether that be via the CILEX Professional Qualification or apprenticeship route, working and gaining valuable hands-on practical experience alongside their studies. Every CILEX member I have met has their own very unique story.”
Emma specialises in regulatory law at the Royal College of Nursing where she represents members subject to Nursing & Midwifery Council proceedings. She began her legal career almost 20 years ago, training as a Chartered Legal Executive whilst working as a legal secretary at Exeter firm, Symes Robinson & Lee Solicitors before joining Rundlewalker Solicitors as a personal injury lawyer.
Emma succeeds employment law specialist, Matthew Huggett and will chair the CILEX Professional Board as well as sitting on the main board of CILEX.