probate or commercial law – so most vacancies are in these practice areas (there is more variety if you work for an in-house legal department). Unless you have previous practice experience, you will be applying for entry-level positions, even as a law graduate. Chennel Scott, who completed the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) Level 7 Diploma in Paralegal Practice after gaining her LLB has been working for the same law firm now for nine years. She was offered a paralegal role immediately after graduating with her Level 7 Diploma and says: “I do a lot of civil litigation landlord and tenant disputes, bankruptcy insolvency and a wide range of other matters. I go to court and represent clients working with barristers but I also have my own case-load and I am very involved.” Amanda Hamilton, chief executive of NALP confirms that for those who still wish to qualify as solicitors, paralegal experience is a way to show that you are already aware of the law, practice and procedure, and can therefore become a valuable part of a firm. • www.theiop.org • www.nationalparalegals.co.uk CILEx legal executives CILEx was established in 1963 with the aim of recognising the skills offered by lawyers’ clerks in England and Wales. CILEx now represents around 20,000 individuals who are employed in various legal institutions in the United Kingdom, including private practice law firms, local government, and commerce and industry. Chartered legal executives are qualified lawyers who have at least three years’ experience of working under the supervision of a solicitor and who have passed the CILEx exams. Their daily work is similar to that of solicitors, but they have a narrower training than that of a qualified solicitor. They often specialise in one or two areas of the law.
In the regulated sector, the various professional groups are structured
around solicitors, barristers, chartered legal executives, licenced conveyancers and notaries. Therefore, anyone who has not qualified in one of these professions, may not receive the same quality of work, compensation or career opportunity. This is not necessarily so for one part of the regulated profession: alternative business structures (ABS). There are now hundreds of ABS law businesses, and in many of them what counts most is your skill, ability and attitude; professional titles (or lack thereof) are secondary. In an ABS business you would, as a paralegal, be eligible to become a partner/director. Beyond the regulated legal sector lies the unregulated sector. Most legal work is not deemed reserved activity work - which means anyone can do it. As a result, the unregulated sector is already large and continues to grow at a very fast rate. Over a decade of determined legal deregulation by government has encouraged the growth of around 6,000 paralegal law firms (ie, commercial organisations offering legal services without solicitor/barrister involvement). Compare that explosive growth to the four-and-a-half centuries it has taken for there to be around 10,300 solicitors’ firms. One route to becoming a paralegal is the paralegal apprenticeship, but it is not essential to have any legal qualifications whatsoever to work as a paralegal – according to the website of the Institute of Paralegals (IoP – www.theiop.org), of the approximately 60,000 paralegals working in solicitors’ firms, most do not have any legal qualifications and only a minority are graduates. Most paralegals specialise in one type of law – commonly personal injury, family, criminal, conveyancing, debt recovery,
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