Regulation or Self-Regulation
What is Statutory Regulation?
Statutory regulation is where an organisation is checked by the Government under an Act of Law. It is an offence to practice a statutorily regulated profession without being listed on the relevant register for that profession.
What is Voluntary or Self Regulation?
Where a profession is not governed by an Act of Law, they are often subject to voluntary regulation. Such regulation can be drawn up and enforced by any appropriate body within that professional sector but will often take the form of a ‘membership’ body for the professionals operating in that sector.
NALP's Role in Self Regulation
The Paralegal sector does not come under any statutory regulation, unlike solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives. However, Paralegals have relied upon NALP to act as a self-regulatory paralegal membership body of the sector for 30 years.
As part of this role, we impose strict criteria on our members to abide by NALP Codes of Conduct and ensure that each member understands, and adheres to, the standards expected in the industry. This includes ensuring our members avoid ‘Holding-out’ - which means exactly that: holding oneself out to be a solicitor, barrister or chartered legal executive. Making such a claim would be a criminal offence.
Therefore, anyone can describe themselves as a paralegal (whether or not they have qualifications experience or training) but it is illegal to describe or infer that they are a solicitor or barrister or chartered legal executive unless they have actually qualified through the prescribed route set by the regulatory authorities:
Regulatory Body: Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA),
Membership Body: The Law Society of England and Wales
Regulatory Body: The Bar Standards Board (BSB)
Membership Body: The Bar Council
Membership Body: Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx)
Regulatory Body: CiLex Regulation
Holding out can be inferred. In other words, you may not expressly state that you are a solicitor, but if member of the public makes an assumption that you are, then it amounts to the same thing: an illegal act.
As a self–regulatory body, NALP can only regulate its own members. If there is an unresolved complaint against a member, we can investigate, impose sanctions, and as a last resort, if no resolution is made, that member can be struck off as a NALP Member. (Please see the NALP Complaints Policy)
NALP therefore does not regulate all paralegals only those that decide to become NALP Members and subject to the NALP Members’ Code of Conduct
NALP Membership Catergories
NALP offers several membership catergories based on work experience and training. This offers paralegals recognition for their level of expertise, along with consumer protection offering a clear understanding of proffession skills of an individual when hiring a paralegal. We recommend reading our Consumer Help and Advice before employing a Paralegal.
LegSec.NALP is available for anyone who has a Legal Secretary Diploma from ILSPA or CiLex and other awarding bodies.
For paralegals new to the sector with no formal legal qualifications or legal experience within England and Wales. This membership is also available to those currently studying Law or Paralegal Qualifications.
Associates are paralegals who have a minimum of Level 3 approriate law related certificate or diploma. For those who have studied A Level Law or have a minimum of 3 years relevant legal experience.
Available to all Graduates of LLB or BA Law or Joint Law Degree, Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), Legal Practice Course, Bar Professional Training Course or Level 7 Diploma in Paralegal Practice, but do not have relevant legal experience.
Minimum Level 6 (Graduate) eg LLB, BA, GDL or Joint Law Degree (to include the English Common Law System) and a minimum 3 years relevant legal experience, or through the experiential route, a minimum of 5 years relevant legal experience.
Licensed (referred to as Principal Fellow from 1st August 2018): PF.NALP
For fellows with relevant qualifications and/or experience who have many years experience and are working in-house in law firms or companies.