A paralegal is a highly-valued member of a legal team that has extensive knowledge of the law and legal matters, but is not a qualified lawyer. Paralegals undertake a wide variety of administrative and legal work. They work with solicitors, barristers and/or chartered legal executives and are often associate members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).
A paralegal’s role is to support lawyers in their work and they can choose to specialise in a specific area of the law.
Typically, paralegals are employed in law firms and work in a specific department. Duties will vary depending on department, but may involve some of the following tasks:
You need a wide range of skills to become a paralegal. Do the following skill-sets sound like you?
There are many areas that a paralegal can specialise in, but here are a few to get you started:
Although there are no official qualifications needed to become a paralegal, you will want to consider carefully what you study.
In such a competitive environment, it is beneficial if you have:
Watch our Q&A with a paralegal apprentice!
Although you do not technically need a degree, it may be beneficial considering the competitive nature of the career path.
Due to the popularity of paralegal positions, most law firms require as a minimum a 2.2 (and sometimes even a 2:1) in a qualifying law degree if you have done a degree. Alternatively, a similar result in a non-law degree supplemented with a pass on a law conversion course such as the GDL is acceptable.
Recently, an increasing number of law firms also require the LPC as a postgraduate qualification too. A legal background is a real advantage and so completing this is ideal to get ahead.
In light of this, this kind of work is becoming increasingly popular amongst LPC and BPTC graduates. This is in part due to the fact that there is an increasing number of students finishing LPC and BPTC courses who have not yet secured a training contract or pupillage. Undertaking such work is a great way for such individuals to:
Entry-level graduate salaries for paralegals tend to range from £17,000 to £25,000, rising to up to £40,000 with experience. Of course, the salary range differs depending on the area of practice and law firm concerned. Read our paralegal salaries page for more information.
We caught up with Amy, a member of dispute resolution department at Farrer & Co, about her life as a paralegal. Amy discusses the highs and the lows of the job along with some top tips for success.
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