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  • Paralegals assist Lawyers in their legal work

  • Paralegal

Paralegal

Introduction

As a Paralegal, you will be assisting qualified lawyers in their work. You might perform many different functions in law offices, although you cannot perform duties considered to be within the actual practice of law, such as giving out legal advice. Normally your work would include administrative and research duties, including preparing complex documents for court.

Paralegals are also known as a Legal Assistants.

Also known as

  • Legal Assistant

Work Activities

As a Paralegal, you will be assisting qualified Lawyers in your work. You might perform many different functions in law offices, although you cannot perform duties considered to be within the actual practice of law, such as giving out legal advice. Normally your work would include administrative and research duties, including preparing complex documents for court.

Paralegals are also known as Legal Assistants.

You might be working and specialising in one particular area of law. This could include:

  • data protection
  • litigation
  • crime
  • corporate
  • debt recovery
  • property
  • liability claims

You will be helping a Lawyer to prepare for court, including interviewing people involved in the case, researching and preparing case summaries and advising clients on the telephone how to proceed and keeping them informed as to how their case is progressing.

Your other duties could include:

  • proof reading domuments before court
  • data entry
  • managing databases
  • filing
  • indexing

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Paralegal, you'll need:

  • research skills
  • computer skills - such as using databases
  • time management skills
  • a good understanding of legal procedures
  • to be organised and methodical when dealing with your own work, and when allocating tasks to junior members of staff

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates below are approximate:

  • Starting: £20,000 - £22,500
  • With experience: £25,000 - £29,500
  • Senior Paralegals earn £32,000 - £36,000

Hours of work

Paralegals usually work 35-39 hours, Monday to Friday, but some might be asked quite often to work overtime. Full-time, part-time, temporary and flexible working arrangements could be available.

Where could I work?

Employers are Solicitors' offices, Barristers' chambers and courts. Other employers include the legal departments of firms in every sector of industry and commerce and in public service, as well as local authority and government departments.

Temporary work, on a casual basis or through short-term contracts, might be available from specialist legal employment agencies.

Opportunities for Paralegals occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on job boards and employers' websites, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Many employers require you to have a degree before you become Paralegal. Law degrees are available at many universities. In order to get onto one of these courses, you will usually need at least two A levels.

After completing your A levels, you might be able to get onto a Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeship in a relevant legal area.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Training

You might be able to get onto a City & Guilds/CILEX level 2 award in legal studies, or an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship in a relevant area, and work your way up. You might also be able to get onto a CILEX level 3 certificate in law and practice.

It'll be up to you to learn new skills, and to show that you can progress to more senior, legal roles.

Work Experience

Previous experience within an administrative and/or legal environment will be useful for this career.

Qualifications

To enter a degree course in law, you usually need:

  • 3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in your A level subjects
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths

Other qualifications are often acceptable as alternatives to A levels, for example:

  • BTEC level 3 qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

Because of very strong competition for places on all legal courses, successful applicants usually have high A level grades - you should check university websites carefully for specific requirements.

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

If you are a non-graduate, you should contact the Bar Standards Board to see if any experience and qualifications you have could enable you to enter training (this is at the Bar Standards Board's discretion).

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Law) could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Alternatively, if you have a non-law degree, you can take the Common Professional Examination (CPE)/Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), part-time or by distance learning, over two years.

A number of centres offer degrees in law by distance learning. Applicants should check whether these courses are validated by the Law Society and the Bar Standards Board.

The Open University offers a qualifying law degree by distance learning and also offers postgraduate Law qualifications.

Funding

Adults can apply for a scholarship from the four Inns of Court, for either the CPE or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

Law Society of England and Wales

Address: The Law Society's Hall, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL

Tel: 020 7242 1222

Website: www.lawsociety.org.uk

Law Careers.Net

Address: New Hibernia House, Winchester Walk, London Bridge, London SE1 9AG

Tel: 020 7234 0606

Email: info@lawcareers.net

Website: www.lawcareers.net

Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx)

Address: Kempston Manor, Kempston, Bedford MK42 7AB

Tel: 01234 841000

Email: info@cilex.org.uk

Website: www.cilex.org.uk/careers/careers_home.aspx

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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