The Evolving Role of the Paralegal
Paralegals are generally responsible for assisting a solicitor run their cases, without actually representing clients themselves. While they do not have to have any legal qualifications, nearly 95% of all the paralegals working at the National Legal Service have completed their GDL or LPC.
On occasion of the inaugural National Paralegal Day, we believe it is important to highlight and raise the profile of the often ‘lesser recognised’ members of the profession:
- Traditionally, paralegals were viewed as support or admin staff, but actually firms have become reliant on them to do fee earning work previously done by junior solicitors. Therefore in practice, there is often little to no difference between an experienced paralegal and a newly-qualified solicitor (NQ).
- The recent legal aid cuts has resulted in an increasing number of litigants unable to secure legal aid or able to afford solicitors. Paralegals particularly in Domestic Abuse matters have filled in this gap by taking on advocacy in legal aid cases
- Many paralegals are already as academically qualified as a trainee solicitor and have had training in advocacy.
Kirsty Richards, Head of Family, says, ‘At NLS, we have a team of paralegals trained in advocacy, who over the last one year have done over 2000 Court Applications. Some members of the team are extremely experienced advocates who have done more court appearances than junior solicitors in the firm’
Harun Matin, Head of Crime says ‘Paralegals are essential to the growth & success of our firm. As an ABS structure, we allow our paralegals the opportunity to work on cases they have never done before and to really seize this opportunity’