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Competition for in house positions at the paralegal level – ensure you turn up

Within the last few months there has been a noticeable increase in the number of paralegal positions in the in house legal market in both the North and the South of England.

What is the reason that in house legal teams wish to recruit legal assistants?

There are a number of reasons, a flavour of which I will set out below. With the recent roles that we have been assisting with, the recruitment has come about due to increased workload within the legal teams, as a result of the growth of the business due to recent successful tenders. Another has come about as someone has left the company to move down under. With the current buoyant market, certain legal assistants, who were qualified in other jurisdictions, have left their previous roles to work as qualified lawyers in house or in private practice.

In addition to the increased number of roles at the more junior level on the market, the content of such roles has been varied. They have included compliance; commercial contracting ; commercial with a PA element and construction. The range of opportunities has given those who do not have commercial experience, to be considered for excellent entry level roles with global multinational – which will provide a sound foundation to their career.

Some of the individuals that I have spoken to, genuinely wish to further their legal career and appreciate the importance of obtaining hands on practical experience in an in house commercial legal environment. One recent graduate recently attended an interview for a training contract and was told that despite her excellent academics which included a first class law degree, she was unsuccessful as she did not have sufficient commercial experience, which has led to her search for in house roles.

It is important to be open minded in respect of the role and the content. I have been surprised that individuals who wish to further their career have not wished to consider a role with a global multi national as the role includes a percentage of PA work. In this role, one would be working with a GC on commercial and strategic global company matters and this particular GC is firmly supportive of career development. So, it is worthwhile considering what job does not involve an element of admin!

As the market for legal assistants increases, we have also found that there is more competition for these roles. In addition to UK graduates, there are graduates from other countries who are either qualifying through the QLTT route or achieving GDLs and LPCs. Therefore, I have been quite surprised to find that there are some individuals who secure an interview and yet don’t turn up!

Overall, the in house legal environment is a great place to get experience, commercial or otherwise and with the SRAs new requirements to relation to qualification as a solicitor, we may find that this is an even more popular way to gain experience, which may go towards your future qualification, especially should private practice remain wedded to the traditional training contract. Watch this space!

For more information please contact Joanne McKernan or visit our website BCL Legal.

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