Converting support staff to fee earners
Who are paralegals?
Paralegals are essential to the delivery of legal services. The profession is fast emerging as the fourth arm of the legal profession working with barristers, solicitors and legal executives.
Government figures suggest that there are more than a quarter of a million people working in paralegal type roles in England and Wales. They are working in private practice – as paralegals or with other job titles like legal administrator, legal secretary and legal support adviser – and in roles throughout the public and private sectors.
- Circa 60,000 paralegals in solicitors’ firms in the UK
- Working under job titles like paralegal, legal secretary, legal executive
- 44% of all fee-earners in private practice
- Within 7-10 years at this rate, there will be more paralegals in law firms than solicitors
- 6,000 paralegal law firms have emerged in the last 10 years – compared with 10,000 solicitors firms formed over 400 years
- Estimated 250,000 people outside the legal profession whose jobs have a legal element, for example:
- Company secretaries
- Compliance and regulatory staff
- Contracts managers
- Housing advisers
- HR professionals
- Financial advisers
- Local authority teams
- Will writers
What do paralegals do?
The numbers above do not tell the whole story: solicitors and barristers still lead the profession and do the most complex, high value, cutting-edge, challenging and more glamorous work. This is not likely to change. What has changed is that now for the first time ever it is genuinely possible to say that a worthwhile and fulfilling career in the law is achievable for non-lawyers.
Paralegals carry out processing work at all levels of coal face legal delivery – from completing complicated forms in relation to property transactions to processing claims through personal injury portals; from calculating the tax implications of wills, probate and administration, to filing a claim for unpaid debt to carrying out company secretarial duties; from advising on employment tribunal procedures to drafting separation agreements for divorce cases.
The vast majority of paralegals specialise in a practice area. Our portfolio is designed to cover all of the most common practice areas. We can also deliver customised content for areas not contained within our existing portfolio.
Why qualify paralegals?
Paralegals and other legal support professionals are performing a high volume of work in relation to the provision of legal services.
Firms and individuals have a responsibility to prove their competency and credibility for clients and colleagues alike.
Benefits to employers
Professionals are in part differentiated from technicians by the breadth of their knowledge. In-work training tends to be deep but narrow. Get the broader knowledge you need to call yourself a true professional by supplementing in-work learning with a quality legal course.
David Holland, CEO, Institute of Paralegals