How to become a paralegal

What is a Paralegal?

Paralegals play an important role within the Legal Sector, often working alongside lawyers and solicitors. Trained and educated to perform a wide range of legal duties, Paralegals can assist in many legal matters as an alternative to solicitors apart from some ‘reserved activities’ which only solicitors can do.

Paralegals can work in a wide range of industries, you’ll often find paralegals within the media, entertainment, fashion, government along with roles within legal environments. As paralegals can offer a wide range of legal assistance, many are now working as Licenced Practitioners and own their own Paralegal Firms.

If you are looking for a career in the legal sector and want to find out more about becoming a paralegal, you’re in the right place!

image of legal textbooks to support why use a paralegal and how to become a paralegal

As Paralegals can offer legal assistance, it is vital they are educated and trained in legal systems, legal procedure and trained to perform legal tasks. There are many routes into a paralegal career, but many employers look for recognised Paralegal training and qualifications, such as: 

  • NALP Paralegal practice award, certificate, diploma
  • Postgraduate paralegal diploma
  • a Law Degree
  • An award in legal studies
  • Legal secretary certificate or diploma

Along with a strong knowledge of the law, you’ll need many skills to work effectively as a paralegal.

  • Communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Excellent Written English
  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving
  • IT
  • Attention to detail
  • Professionalism
  • Administration skills

You can choose to specialise in many different legal areas including:

  • Civil Litigation
  • Criminal Litigation
  • Commercial Law
  • Employment Law
  • Wills and Succession
  • Conveyancing and Property
  • Consumer Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Corporate and Business Law
  • Matrimonial and Family Law
  • Contract Law

Paralegals duties are widely varied depending on experience and area of specialism, however the responsibilities of a paralegal may include:

  • Writing letters, emails and speaking to clients on the phone
  • Researching the law, and published legal articles online and hard copy
  • Looking after diaries
  • Compiling bundles of documents for court cases
  • Creating and organising case files
  • Filing documents at court
  • Attending small claims court on behalf of clients
  • Attending tribunals on behalf of clients
  • Writing reports on cases
  • Interviewing witnesses including expert witnesses
  • Drafting instructions to counsel

Do you need a Law Degree to become a Paralegal?

You do not need a Law Degree to become a paralegal. However, many employers look for legal or paralegal training. There are specialist qualifications for paralegals, developed to give you the skills and knowledge to work effectively as a paralegal. If you do have a Law Degree, you can benefit from a Postgraduate Paralegal Diploma and work as a Licenced Paralegal.

How much do Paralegals earn?

Paralegals salary in the UK vary widely depending on your experience, location, firm and area of Law. The average salary is £25,000 a year, with a starting salary of £14,000 rising to £50,000 for senior paralegals in London.

Experience Level
Paralegal Wage
London Paralegal Wage
Junior Paralegal
£14,000 – £22,00
£22,000-£24,000
Law Graduate Paralegal
£21,000- £25,000
£28,000-£30,000
Senior Paralegal
£30,000-£40,000
£35,000-£50,000

How much does it cost to study to become a paralegal?

The cost of studying to become a paralegal is much lower than university. Courses and paralegal qualifications range from £200 for a single unit to £1660 for a postgraduate diploma. You can find a Training Centre here.

Paralegal Qualification
Award
Certificate
Full Diploma
Single Unit
Level 3 – Paralegal Practice
£450
£770
£1190
£250
Paralegal Qualification
Part One
Part Two
Full Diploma
Single Unit
Level 4 – Paralegal Studies
£750
£750
£1380
£250
Paralegal Qualification
Post Graduate Diploma
Single Unit
Level 7 – Paralegal Practice
£1660
£475

How long does it take to become a paralegal?

You can study to become a paralegal alongside full-time employment on a distance learning course, depending on the level of paralegal qualification and how much time you have to study this can vary.

  • Level 3 Award in Paralegal Practice – 3-4 months
  • Level 3 Certificate in Paralegal Practice – 6-8 months
  • Level 3 Diploma in Paralegal Practice – 9-12 months
  • Level 4 Diploma in Paralegal Studies – 12-14 months
  • Level 7 Diploma in Paralegal Practice – 6-8 months

Start becoming a paralegal

Becoming a paralegal starts with having the right qualifications. We have developed a guide to help you choose the right qualification for you. You can take the first steps towrards becoming a paralegal by clicking the button below, choosing the right qualification and finding the right training centre for you.