Articles From the Team

Paralegals seeking a training contract – is there an alternative route to qualification?

That elusive training contract can seem so far away especially when you’ve spent years studying to fulfil your ambition to qualify as a solicitor to then wait for what seems like a disproportionate amount of time to finally qualify into your chosen profession.

There have been so many changes of regulations over the years in the route to qualification as a solicitor. This has been dictated in the main by the number of law students and the ever growing legal profession. What has now emerged are modern and more progressive routes to qualification as a solicitor.

2015 has seen the first paralegal qualify as a solicitor through the alternative method of ‘equivalent means’. Does this mean qualification as a solicitor is closer than you think?

The SRA have developed a scheme called ‘Training for Tomorrow’ and through this scheme have granted a practicing certificate to a paralegal who had provided evidence to show that he had achieved the same standards as someone qualifying through the traditional training period. He had worked as a paralegal for some four and a half years and has now successfully become the first new entrant to the solicitors profession as part of the SRA’s ‘Training for Tomorrow programme’.

One of the aims of the scheme is to inject more flexibility into the routes to qualification as a solicitor:

The scheme means that the SRA will recognise experience obtained in the workplace which equates to the requirements of a formal period of recognised training or in effect ‘a training contract’. There is no minimum period but you must have achieved the necessary standards as laid down by the academics and vocational stages.

In this particular paralegals case he had completed the LPC but had not secured a training contract however he had demonstrated that he had obtained the same skills and standards during his employment that he would have done as a trainee.

The CILEX route firmly has it’s place in the route to qualification, however if you have undertaken the LPC route and are now working as a paralegal, the new SRA scheme is definitely one to keep an eye on. It would certainly seem to bring you closer to achieving your ambition to qualify as a solicitor.

Paralegals are currently in demand in all disciplines across Yorkshire, particularly commercial property. There are excellent opportunities to gain career progression with the right firm and with the new SRA scheme this could mean a quicker route to qualification. If you are being held back from looking to the external paralegal market as you are waiting your turn for that elusive training contract, this scheme should certainly make you think again. Perhaps now is the time to explore the wider paralegal market and achieve satisfaction in your paralegal career and qualification may then be sooner than you think.

For advice and an overview of the paralegal market in Yorkshire please contact Rachel Darlington at BCL Legal.

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