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.
Like the laws of physics, there is often a temptation to seek certainty in the cold, hard numbers of business and economics; but such certainty is generally illusory, as the reality inevitably proves more complex and what is one person’s triumph can be another’s misfortune.
The organisation provides free legal assistance through volunteer barristers to those who cannot obtain public funding. Volunteer admin and fundraising roles are available to law students and graduates, and you can also volunteer for the unit through LawWorks or your university. The Bar Pro Bono Unit also seeks volunteer help from barristers, solicitors and clerks.