What can my job title be?
Your job title is ultimately at the discretion of your employer. That said, you must not use the protected title unless you are fully qualified to do so as it would mislead the public or people you may deal with.
Under principled trading considerations you must not hold yourself out as having a qualification or professional status that you do not possess.
Members can use the appropriate designatory letters in their job titles, or on websites or firm literature. There are some commonly used job titles for non-fellow members.
This list below is not a recommendation of job titles, as it will depend on your employer, your role, and even your level of membership or experience. The list is also not exhaustive.
- Litigation Executive
- Legal Advisor
- Senior Legal Advisor
- Legal Assistant
The discretion this provides to employers is important, but the Institute would not recommend the following job titles:
Whilst the term counsel is not protected by law, advice suggests that members using the term could be misleading to the public. In the UK, 'counsel' is very much synonymous with barrister. Accordingly, the Bar Standards Board may take action against a member calling themselves counsel. The term counsel is more likely to be used in-house by international firms, which tend to equate the term with lawyer as opposed to barrister.
Despite the term lawyer being generic, it lends itself to the suggestion that you are ‘qualified in practising law’ and can carry out all the perceived functions. In the event you are a lay-representative and use the term lawyer you will be well served by explaining to a prospective client that you are neither regulated nor capable of practicing law in most legal arenas, however you are quite within your right to explain what you will be doing and what you may need to pass to others.
We refer to the guidance of CILEx, who discourages the use of the title ‘legal executive’ as it could mislead the public or other people you may be dealing with. It was the title previously used by fully qualified Fellows of CILEx. Accordingly, Fellows of CILEx should use the term 'chartered legal executive', which is a protected title.
The term legal executive is not protected by law and this presents a problem in terms of potentially misleading the public. Action may be taken should the term wrongly imply an expertise that simply does not exist. We have some experience of law firms calling employees legal executives when they are not. If a consumer has been misled by this and is under the impression they were receiving advice from a qualified lawyer, they can address their complaint initially to the firm. If the complaint is not resolved to their satisfaction, the complaint can be escalated to the Legal Ombudsman.
It is a criminal offence to hold yourself out as a solicitor when you are not. The SRA could act against any individual for doing so.
Trainee Chartered Legal Executive
Should you consult CILEx you will find that they discourage its members from using the title trainee chartered legal executive. This title does not specify the stage of training you have achieved. There is potentially a significant difference in training between students and graduate members who have finished their studies and have almost completed their qualifying employment.