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 the performance of 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 or diploma
  • Postgraduate paralegal diploma
  • a law degree
  • An award in legal studies
  • Legal secretary certificate or diploma

To work effectively as a paralegal, you will need:

  • To be highly organised with great time management skills. As you’ll often be working with multiple clients, keeping on top of things, and being on time, is going to be vital.
  • A real attention to detail. Legal work is often all about the detail, so making sure everything is right is highly important.
  • Superb communication and interpersonal skills, in all forms, are needed to effectively communicate with clients, colleagues and others in the legal sector.
  • Problem solving and research skills are critical. Being able to find a solution is what most of your clients will come to you for.
  • You will be expected to keep records in good order. Administration and IT skills will be a core requirement.

Except for Reserved Activities, paralegals can do everything a solicitor or lawyer does. You can work is many different legal areas and you don’t have to work in a law firm. More and more companies have their own internal legal department. NALP members currently work for footballs teams, government, export firms and aerospace (amongst many others).

What are you passionate about? There will almost certainly be opportunities for you to practice law in that area.

Depending on how much experience you have and your area of specialism, you may be supporting a solicitor with research or writing case reports. You may be interviewing witnesses or writing letters to clients. You may have your own clients and be attending tribunals or small claims court. These are just some examples of what you may be doing, as your duties can vary widely.

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
Law Graduate Paralegal
£21,000- £25,000
Senior Paralegal

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 £350 for a Level 3 single unit qualification to £1660 for a Level 7 postgraduate diploma. You can find a Training Centre here.

Paralegal Qualification
Single Unit Qualification
Level 3 – Paralegal Practice
Paralegal Qualification
Single Unit
Level 4 – Paralegal Studies
Paralegal Qualification
Post Graduate Diploma
Single Unit
Level 7 – Paralegal Practice

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.