Paralegals play an increasingly important role in many law firms and over the coming years the value of that role is likely to increase and paralegals will find that they need to take on ever greater responsibility. However, with that increased responsibility comes increased exposure to regulation.
The term “paralegal” covers a wide range of legal staff with varying skill sets and many of those staff become integrally involved in client work. The result of this is that they need increasingly to be aware of the duties and regulations to which they are subject. For example, under the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct 2011, all staff employed within a solicitors practice are subject to those conduct rules and can find themselves answering allegations of unprofessional conduct or find themselves in breach of the provisions of the rules.
Although there is as yet no legally accepted standard for paralegals, nevertheless an increasing number are joining organisations such as the the Institute of Paralegals and the National Association of Licensed Paralegals. As a result, many are signing up to competency standards such as those promoted by the Institute of Paralegals or the licensing requirements promoted by the National Association of Licensed Paralegals.
In addition, the Law Society is due to launch a paralegal accreditation scheme later this year for non-qualified staff working in organisations regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. It is intended that the scheme will be open to all of those in legal practice, whether they be secretaries of those with a degree or PC but no training contract.
The Lawyers Defence Group can help you as a paralegal in the event that you should fall foul of any of the regulatory provisions which affect you.
Whether you are working in private practice or in other commercial organisations or government or other bodies we can assist you with a wide variety of issues including:
- your liabilities under the codes of conduct of other regulators,
- practice management and accountancy issues,
- employment problems, or
- matters relating to finance.
If you are, or are thinking about becoming, a paralegal and you are not aware of the wide range of services provided by organisations such as the Institute of Paralegals then you can do so by going to their web site at www.theiop.org where you will find, amongst other things, guidance on:
- becoming a paralegal;
- how to go from paralegal to solicitor;
- competency standards; and
- the paralegal code of conduct
For further information, contact the Lawyers Defence Group by:
- telephoning during office hours – 0845 216 2000,
- requesting a call-back using the call-back request form to the right,
- telephoning our out of hours number (but please only in an emergency – for example when someone has been arrested or you believe that your firm might be about to be intervened in) 07952 861 868,
- emailing us at email@example.com, or
- writing to us at one of the addresses at the bottom of this web page.
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