The term ´paralegal´ is a relatively new one
in the United Kingdom.
There is no fixed definition of a paralegal,
however the Institute's definition is
becoming widely used:
quot;Someone who is not a lawyer who does legal
work that would
previously have been done by a solicitor or
First appeared in the 1960’s
Don’t appear in court
Don’t give legal advice
Write reports for solicitors and Barristers
Preliminary interview of clients
A paralegal may therefore be someone who
works in or with the law. They may apply it,
administer it, interpret it, use it, monitor it
or advise on it. Someone is not
automatically a paralegal just because they
work in a legal environment (e.g. a
receptionist in a law firm or an
administrator in the civil or criminal justice
The term quot;paralegalquot; is really only used in
the legal profession. However, of the circa
500,000 people in the UK doing paralegal
work (full or part time), only 50,000 work in
the traditional legal profession (law firms or
in-house legal departments).
The remaining 450,000 paralegals do not use that
They work in a wide variety of areas, e.g.
the armed forces
the voluntary sector
finance & insurance
What they all have in common is that they
are qualified through education, training or
work experience to perform substantive
legal work that requires knowledge of the
legal system or legal processes or legal
concepts. Jobs requiring such substantive
legal work constitute ´qualifying
employment´ for the purposes of Institute
Unlike for solicitors and barristers, there are no formal
qualifications or accreditations that you need to obtain.
Most paralegals begin their careers by learning on the
job. However, as the profession of paralegal continues to
grow in recognition then it is likely in due course that
the government will seek to regulate it. Part of the
Institute´s remit is to establish a recognised educational
and skills framework for the paralegal profession.
Although anyone can at present call themselves a
paralegal, most employers recognise that the best
paralegals have a mixture of experience gained whilst
working and educational attainment.
How does a Paralegal differ from a
How would you become a paralegal?