David Edwards FCILEx became the 52nd President of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) on Friday at a ceremony at Hatfield House. David’s legal career spans 40 years and he is now the principal Chartered Legal Executive for St Albans City & District Council. His new role as CILEx President, representing 20,000 members, including 7,500 Chartered Legal Executive lawyers, will run to July next year.
In his inaugural address, David said: “It is a great privilege to serve for a year as President of the Chartered Institute and I hope that I can repay the confidence shown in me to fulfil the duties of the Office.”
David takes office as Chartered Legal Executives begin to set up their own law firms to deliver reserved legal activities; the first to do so since Parliament granted the powers earlier this year. The move is expected to improve the availability of legal services to consumers, and improve diversity in the legal profession with three-quarters of Chartered Legal Executives being women.
David said: “The trumpets have sounded and the walls of Jericho in the legal profession have fallen. We have our own practice rights and can regulate our own practices. With an increasingly specialised legal sector we will undoubtedly be a significant part of the future of the profession. We are not the fat-cats, we are the foot soldiers.”
As CILEx develops its plans for working with government for the next five years, David said: “It is refreshing to hear Michael Gove speak candidly about the difficulties faced by those less well-off who try to navigate our justice system. I will be seizing on the glimmer of hope that this gives us, and I am determined to work with him to make a better justice system. I hope to hear something similar from the business secretary Sajid Javid; because access to justice is reliant on access to education. The paralegals, the lawyers, the advocates and judges of the future all require legal education, of which vocational learning is a necessary part of the mix.”
He continued: “Indeed it is now all the more important – following the ending of student maintenance grants in Wednesday’s Budget, the poorest young people thinking about university study will have to borrow twice as much now to cover both fees and maintenance. This will place a further debt burden on the poorest students, and only makes the CILEx route into law – the affordable route, the accessible route – more necessary than ever.”
The leadership team is completed by Vice President Martin Callan FCILEx and Deputy Vice President Millicent Grant FCILEx.
David Edwards has worked for St Albans District Council in Hertfordshire for the past 28 years and is currently Principal Chartered Legal Executive. Having initially worked as a civil litigator in central London law firms, he obtained his Fellowship of CILEx in 1983 whilst working for the London Borough of Barnet. He gained CILEx’s Diploma in Planning Law in 1986.
David has dealt with a number of high-profile planning inquiries and planning-related litigation. He also deals with environmental matters and, associated regulatory prosecution work in the magistrates’ court. David has also handled cases that have been tried in the Crown Court, including benefit fraud prosecutions.
David represents the constituency of Midlands and East Anglia. He is married to his wife Elizabeth.