of justice. They also play a vital role in the management and administration of the service, organising the arrangement of court time, payment of fines and other related matters. Stipendiary magistrates are largely chosen from practising solicitors and barristers, although it is possible for a lawyer to progress through the magistrates’ courts to the circuit bench and beyond. Clerks who are interested in administration can work towards becoming a justices’ chief executive, with responsibilities for increasingly large groupings of magistrates’ courts. Further information is available from the Magistrates Association (see “Useful addresses”). Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service also provides administrative support to the higher courts and tribunals. More information can be found at www.gov.uk/government/ organisations/hm-courts-and-tribunals-service .
the non-profit-making service is free for clients and centres are funded through local authorities. The nature of the work is dictated by local needs; workers are likely to need to know something about the law relating to immigration, employment, crime and landlord and tenant. Jobs are advertised in the local and national press, and in specialist publications such as the Legal Action Group’s magazine or the Law Gazette. Although not financially rewarding, law centre work is one of the most satisfying ways in which a lawyer can use his or her legal expertise. For more information, contact the Law Centres Federation (see “Useful addresses”). Citizens Advice Citizens Advice is a professional national agency offering free, confidential, impartial and independent advice. In operation since 1939, Citizens Advice provides a service similar to law centres at around 2,550 community locations throughout England and Wales. Information and advice are dispensed in person, and by telephone and email, to millions of people every year – 2.7 million in 2017-18 alone. Advisers can help to fill out forms, write letters, negotiate on behalf of clients and represent them at courts or tribunals in matters ranging from debt and benefits to housing, employment and immigration. Most centres offer legal advice and some employ their own lawyers. Contact Citizens Advice for further information (see “Useful addresses”). Court work Over 95% of all criminal cases are dealt with by magistrates. Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service employs many qualified solicitors and barristers as justices’ clerks. Clerks advise lay magistrates on law and procedure, and are key figures in the daily running of the courts and the administration
Alternative routes into law Paralegals
For law graduates not going on to the LPC or BPTC, a career as a professional paralegal is a real alternative. Paralegal options exist in both the regulated and unregulated sectors, in the public and private sectors and in-house legal departments. In the regulated sector, paralegals work primarily for solicitors, barristers, trademark attorneys, costs lawyers and licensed conveyancers. In this sector, working as a paralegal is not regarded as the same as being a qualified lawyer, and this is especially true in many solicitors’ firms. Historically paralegals were to solicitors what skilled nurses were to doctors. However, the huge growth in the number of paralegals employed has meant that evermore complex work is delegated to paralegals and many run their own files and have their own clients, and some even run departments.
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