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Paralegal Career Options - National Association of Licensed Paralegals

Paralegal careers

Why companies use paralegals

Paralegals are defined as ‘persons who are trained and educated to perform certain legal tasks, but who are not qualified solicitors, barristers or chartered legal executives’.

There are around 300,000 paralegals currently working in the UK, many of whom do not even realise they are a paralegal.  LinkedIn lists 74,000 UK-based paralegals – but the number is much higher.

Paralegals are not only people who have studied law – they are people performing a variety of legal tasks from contract drafting to debt collection. These are important areas for many companies but, rather than use a solicitor, they choose to have an in-house team or outsource to a paralegal. This may be due to the volume of work or the high costs of solicitors.  Thus, many will revert to training individuals (non-lawyers) and employ them specifically for the task.

Entering the legal industry as a paralegal

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With little or no legal experience

Becoming a paralegal is simple. There are 100’s of companies actively looking for paralegals right now. Simply Law has pages of paralegal roles here and lists nearly 2,000 paralegal job vacancies here. Many of these are asking for a paralegal qualification, although not always. You don’t need a paralegal qualification, but it does help.

If you are considering becoming a paralegal, with little or no legal experience, we recommend our Level 3 qualification. This is  perfect for those looking to become a paralegal and those with some paralegal experience who are looking to progress their career in the legal- and a variety of other sectors.

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With legal experience

If you have been working as a legal secretary or legal assistant for some time and wish to progress your career, gaining a more in-depth knowledge of the English Legal System, and more practical skills, our Level 4 Diploma is for you.

The Level 4 Diploma is the benchmark paralegal qualification to launch your paralegal career, giving you a sound knowledge and understanding of both the English Legal System along with the Practical Skills required to work effectively as a paralegal.

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As a gradute

If you are a law graduate, the route to becoming a solicitor is complicated (although it is becoming easier) and expensive. Entering the legal industry as a paralegal is a real alternative. Our Level 7 Diploma is designed to bridge the gap between an academic degree and the practical, procedural knowledge and skills necessary to be able to function effectively as a Paralegal Practitioner.

This qualification takes 4-6 months to complete, getting you ready for a paralegal role very quickly.

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From paralegal to solicitor

Being a paralegal is a great career in its own right, but if you have your heart set on becoming a solicitor, work experience as a paralegal will give you the knowledge and practical experience you need to progress. As well as the SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Exam), you will require qualifying work experience (QWE) before you can get final approval from the Legal Services Board. Your work as a paralegal will contribute to this.  

Running your own paralegal practice

Paralegals can do most (although a few activities are reserved for solicitors) of the work that solicitors can do and there is nothing stopping you setting up your own paralegal practice, if you don’t want to work for someone else. Your knowledge, experience and NALP membership/qualifications will help you win clients. 

Our Licence to Practise will show your clients that you:

  • Have been independently vetted by the foremost paralegal body in the UK
  • Are maintaining your knowledge and skills through regular CPD studies
  • Are providing protection for your clients by holding Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • Have the backing of the longest-running paralegal body in the UK.