From Law Graduate To Paralegal
13 April 2017
Paralegals are important members of a legal firm, playing a key role in the legal process. The caseloads and technical work that Paralegals undertake is often almost indistinguishable from that of a solicitors’. Their work requires substantial knowledge of their particular legal sector.
Paralegals can work for solicitors within the legal profession or they may work within a legal environment within commerce, industry or the public sector. There are currently around 10,000 Paralegals working in Scotland who are committed to the impartial delivery of legal advice.
If you have graduated with a law degree, but have decided that obtaining a Traineeship to become a solicitor is not the route for you, becoming a Paralegal in an equally challenging and skilled career path.
However, having a degree does not mean you can simply ‘walk in’ to a Paralegal job. It is strongly recommended that you get practical and procedural experience by undertaking internships or working for smaller, local firms.
Most companies who are looking to acquire a Paralegal will be keen to see that you have demonstrated enough practical experience to hit the ground running, should you be asked to join the firm. Learning the theory is one thing but actually being able to implement policies and procedures is an entirely different skill.
Just like solicitors, Paralegals choose to pursue one area of the law – be it debt recovery, conveyancing, private client or family law – during their career. It is highly unlikely that you would be able to alternate between disciplines, so it is equally important as a Paralegal to have a specific career path in mind.
In Scotland, there has been an increasing use of Paralegals within both public and private sector firms. Whilst it isn’t ‘easy’ to get a job, the legal industry’s preference for employing candidates in these roles means there are opportunities available.
It’s also an industry that doesn’t suffer from a diversity problem. My own particular pool of candidates is a healthy mix of genders, ages and backgrounds. It is a career path that is reflective of modern Scottish society.
The role is also being taken much more seriously. At one point, Paralegals may have been viewed as less important than solicitors. But, given the volume of technical work they undertake and the hours they put it, the role is now seen in a different light. A good Paralegal will possess the same level of professionalism, skills, dedication and integrity as a solicitor. The role has definitely expanded and improved in recent years.
You can also undertake enhanced qualifications as a Paralegal in the form of the Specialist Paralegal Certificate. Although you can do this once you have finished your law degree, it can also be done whilst on the job. Employers will often look for this alongside a demonstrable amount of practical experience.
If you are a qualified Paralegal, I would love to help you take the next step in your career. Click here to see my contact details. I recruit across Scotland and would be happy to talk to you about any opportunities available.
Written By Ashley Smith