Paralegal Training

Faced with the prospect of going on to postgraduate study with no guarantee of a training contract or pupillage at the end of it many of today’s law graduates are choosing to follow a career as a paralegal, which may, over time, lead to eventually persuing a career as a solicitor or barrister.

The question often arises as to whether you need any qualifications to become a paralegal. In short you don’t but you might feel that an additional training course would enhance any work experience you might have.

 

Do beware, however, of the sheer number of paralegal courses on offer and follow the Institute of Paralegals website’s advice to check that the course:

1. Leads to a qualification that is recognised by employers throughout the country. Employers tend to value those courses which lead to a government approved qualification (i.e. one issued by a university or national awarding body like Edexcel) or approved by us.

This is because there are a many small courses run by private providers of dubious benefit. Alternatively, they may be very good courses, but if they do not lead to a qualification and the employer has never heard of them before….

2. Choose a practice-orientated course (a.k.a. vocational courses and practice & procedure courses). Paralegals do things: incorporate companies; interview witnesses; attend court with barristers; complete and submit important official documentation, etc. The courses or qualifications that employers value most highly are the ones that teach you these things. Academic courses such as law degrees, the GDL and even masters degrees in law are often viewed as near-irrelevant by employers (especially solicitors’ firms) as they are not perceived to teach either the practical knowledge needed (yes, you know about the principles of tort, but do you know which courts hear tort cases, how to complete the court forms, what the claims deadlines are etc?).

Some employers, e.g. local authorities will value academic qualifications more highly.

For details of courses that we recommend click here.

Because paralegals do very practical work it is therefore very localized work. The forms, procedures, courts, deadlines, essential information, etc all reflect practise and procedure in England & Wales. For this reason overseas qualifications and experience tend not to be very highly valued.

3. Focus on the practice area you want to work in. Paralegals specialise. General courses covering a range of topics are not helpful unless you need to get an introduction to the law. Ideally you would work out that you like, say, personal injury, and do a course covering that topic. Studying conveyancing and then applying for a job in family law is not going to impress.

Young Lawyer 2012 Essay Competition

Young Lawyer has teamed with legal training provider NCLT to offer you the chance of winning a free place on an LPC course of their choice.  All you have to do is to write an essay based on this question:

As you embark on your training to become a lawyer, the legal profession is undergoing the most radical change in decades, which will result in law firms losing the monopoly on the provision of legal advice.  “How do you think legal reform will affect you and other aspiring lawyers training to become solicitors?

The rules
Word count: 1,000-1,300
Criteria:  Essays will be judged on structure, coherence, accuracy and strength of argument
How to enter:  Email your essay to editorial@younglawyers.co.uk
Closing date:  29 June 2012
Find out more

Six figure salary? Advising at Board level?

Would you like a career with big earning potential and the opportunity to advise at Board/Director/Senior Manager level? Do you like corporate law, finance, and corporate governance? You might want to consider the ICSA qualification – many law graduates do.

It’s the qualification to become a Chartered Secretary – it’s a PA role, right? Wrong! A Chartered Secretary is not a PA or a typist. Far from it! Think Home Secretary or Secretary General of the UN. It’s a very wide ranging, senior level job where you advise senior staff on core legislative issues relating to the organisation.

Take a look at the ICSA you tube link where Chris Taylor, Deputy Company Secretary at BSkyB Group PLC and Lola Emetulu, (solicitor) and Deputy Company Secretary at Reckitt Benckiser Group plc discuss their roles, day-to-day tasks and the skills required to work as a Chartered Secretary. Or take a look at the icsaglobal website

how to find out about law firms – shortcuts..

Dear Oracle…

How can I find out about law firms other than by looking at their websites, which I know won’t necessarily give me a particularly accurate impression?

The Oracle replies

As you have identified, when researching a law firm you need to look beyond its website, which is of course there primarily to market the business. Your first port of call should, naturally, be read the rest here…