As a paralegal apprentice, you will help perform legal duties and provide legal services such as legal research, legal document creation, and legal advice.
You are not a qualified solicitor, barrister, chartered legal executive, or licenced conveyancer, notwithstanding some training.
You might work for a solicitors’ firm, a paralegal law practice, a chambers group, in the private and public sector, such as government or commerce, or for not-for-profit organisations and charities.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- research and draft legal documents
- manage data and confidential client information
- interview clients and witnesses
- give clients legal information
- go to court
- handle a caseload of clients
- do general office tasks.
- Salaries for apprentice paralegals at entry level typically range from £14,000 to £22,000.
- A paralegal with three to five years’ experience can expect a salary in the region of £30,000 to £40,000. Pay is highest in large cities, compared with regional law firms and high street firms
- It’s possible for an experienced paralegal to earn up to £55,000, and in very rare cases up to £70,000.
The job’s role and nature govern working hours. For example, your official working hours might be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, you will be asked to work longer hours during busy periods.
Working for an in-house legal team or a government agency may result in more regular work hours.
You could work in an office, in a court or at a police station.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice paralegal include:
- Level 3 Paralegal – Entry requirements for this level include 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.
This typically takes 24 months to complete as a mix of workplace learning and study.
On a paralegal apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to read English
- excellent verbal communication skills
- excellent written communication skills
- administration skills
- the ability to work well with others
- legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
Typical employers include:
- solicitors’ firms – one in three paralegals work in solicitors’ firms (IoP)
- public sector in areas such as trading standards, parking prosecution, benefit fraud prevention and estates management
- local and national government
- the NHS
- the military
- commercial companies
- the not-for-profit sector
Throughout your career, you’ll need to keep your skills and knowledge of the law up to date via continued professional development.
Membership in the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) is advantageous since it provides access to news, networking opportunities, webinars, training, events, and conferences.
The IoP has a variety of membership categories, ranging from student to Fellow, and you may rise through the ranks as you gain experience. Members of the IoP must complete 10 hours of CPD each year (12 hours for Fellows) and follow a code of conduct.
Paralegals are not subject to legislative supervision. Members of the IoP, on the other hand, are eligible to join the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR), a voluntary regulatory organisation for paralegals in England and Wales. If you hold a Paralegal Practising Certificate, the PPR regulates you as a Professional Paralegal Practitioner in all of the services you are entitled to perform.
You might progress in your current role or build expertise in a specific area of law to rise to a senior paralegal job with growing responsibility for your and the team’s work.
Networking will expose you to new individuals and opportunities, increasing your chances of success in the legal field.
Some paralegals pursue careers as solicitors, barristers, or chartered legal executives. Experience as a paralegal may be counted toward the length of recognised training or certification.