Articles From the Team
Paralegals - The new route to qualification?
I wrote a little while ago about the SRA scheme Training for Tomorrow which was launched in July 2014 to bring more flexibility into the routes to qualification as a solicitor. Since this time there have been ongoing developments including the new statement of solicitor competence that came into force on the 1st April 2015. Further discussions and focus groups have been in place as to how the SRA views this fitting in with the training for tomorrow programme and whether they can improve on the scheme, it having now been running for a year.
The role of work place experience prior to qualification is without a doubt an invaluable path on the road to qualification. Given the lack of availability of training contracts the general consensus is that is extremely important to gain good paralegal experience. The SRA have made this a clear route to qualification by the introduction of the Training for Tomorrow programme. This will now support the training route to qualification by meaning that paralegals with at least three years work experience, who have undertaken the LPC and the Professional Skills Course can apply to have their work experience taking into account instead of having to undertake the two year traditional training contract route.
Obtaining a paralegal position allows a budding solicitor to apply their learning and develop the attitudes, skills and understanding together with practical hands on experience and now this goes further to allowing a route to qualification.
I have recently been speaking with paralegals working for national firms in Yorkshire who have gained invaluable paralegal experience and given this are now taking advantage of the new Training for Tomorrow scheme in their route to qualification. They have gained the necessary three year work experience, have completed the professional skills course and are getting ready to submit their applications to the SRA. Both are massive advocates of the scheme and are glad they have been able to utilise their paralegal experience rather than having to then undertaken two years in a training contract to enable them to qualify as a solicitor.
They have found the scheme fits in well with their work life, they keep logs of the work they undertake which is signed off by a supervising solicitor within the firm and the process does not impact on their daily work routine, rather it complements it and they know that they are getting one step closer to qualification in this way.