I provide personal injury, civil litigation and advocacy services within the company. I also provide an internal legal procedural/legal advisory service to fellow colleagues within the company including legal drafting.
I have been employed as personal injury lawyer specialising in road traffic accidents for over 20 years. I have managed a legal expenses insurance account and I have increasingly specialised in civil advocacy before district judges on applications, small claims hearings, case management conferences and other hearings. I have also provided an in-house procedural advisory service to colleagues including legal drafting such as applications with statements in support, statements of case and skeleton arguments. I am also a member of the special Technical Referral Committee of the company which advises fee earners in relation to problem issues and complex legal/procedural issues.
I read an article in the CILEx Journal regarding Practice Rights and Independent Practice Rights.
I wanted to become a Chartered Legal Executive Advocate in order to gain rights of audience in open court in order to act as an Advocate in hearings including RTA Protocol Stage 3 hearings and RTA disposal hearings which my company deals with. We have large volumes of these hearings and at the moment it involves instructing counsel which is obviously a large expenditure to the company. I wanted also to expand my range of advocacy from district judge hearings to open court advocacy.
The application process involved obtaining a certificate of eligibility in order to attend the course attaching litigation and advocacy portfolios. I then attended an advocacy skills course where the tuition was excellent and involved practical exercises in advocacy such as the art of cross-examination, closing speech at trial and advocacy before a district judge. It also involved teaching on the technique of advocacy and drafting a skeleton argument. I provided references for the course from two different district judges. At the end of the course there was a practical assessment which was filmed where I had to do a submission on a point of law, a closing speech and cross-examination of a witness played by an actor. I found this all immensely helpful in learning advocacy skills. At the end of the course there was an online exam in evidence, procedure and ethics.
This has enormously enhanced my professional status as I am now able to conduct hearings in open court in the county court. To provide such an internal service to a busy litigation practice means that my role has been transformed and I am able to offer a much wider range of advocacy services to colleagues within the company involving Stage 3 RTA Protocol hearings, disposals and trials. It has also raised my profile considerably with other professional advocates and the local judiciary. Dealing with more internal advocacy means increased profitably as advocacy does not have to be outsourced.
I would certainly recommend CILEx members to apply for Practice Rights. These rights allow members to practice in their own right as lawyers subject to CILEx Regulation and to gain wider rights of audience in the courts. It also increases the profile of CILEx lawyers within the legal profession and with the general public. With the gap between solicitors and CILEx lawyers ever narrowing, this is an excellent way to continue that process and raise both the reputation of CILEx and also your own profile.
Gary Claeys, Chartered Legal Executive lawyer, Slater Gordon Solutions Legal
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