For law graduates not going on to the LPC or BPTC, a career as a professional paralegal is a real alternative. Being a paralegal is not the same as being a lawyer, but as doctors are supported by skilled nurses, so too solicitors are supported by skilled paralegals. And as with nurses, nowadays paralegals are becoming a recognised professional group in their own right.
CILEx is the professional body representing around 20,000 trainee and qualified chartered legal executive lawyers. Changes in legislation mean that chartered legal executive lawyers are increasingly on a level playing field with solicitors or barristers, as they can now become judges, advocates and partners in law firms.
There's no denying it – apprenticeships in the legal sector are gaining momentum. The traditional route to being a lawyer is being challenged by, among other things, the Legal Education and Training Review, the rise of legal executives, increasing paralegal numbers, and alternative business structures.
There are many reasons why full-time study followed by training might not be right for you, two of the most common being finances and family/caring commitments. Don’t worry though; there are part-time opportunities throughout the academic and training process.
Staffed by voluntary employment solicitors, BERAL provides free and confidential advice by telephone on Wednesday evenings (18:00 – 20:00). It was established in 2003 by Professor Richard Grimes with lawyers from Wragge & Co, Saltley and Nechells Law Centre and others. Since then, the service has helped more than 400 clients. The 24-hour phone line is 0121 697 8055.