updated on 12 September 2023
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Clyde & Co LLP’s paralegal academy received more than 1,000 applications, far surpassing the firm’s target of 300.
As reported in April, the new scheme, which has 25 spots, provides an alternative route into law through paralegal experience and aims to diversify the legal sector. No previous legal experience is required for the academy and it’s open to anyone with a UK BA degree at 2:2 or above in any subject, or an equivalent qualification. These application requirements proved extremely attractive, resulting in over three times more applications than expected.
The 12-month scheme, which began in June, includes a range of initiatives and programmes to equip individuals with the technical and core skills needed to become a paralegal. This includes a seven-day induction, on the job training, experience working with casualty experts and a career development framework. Clyde & Co suggests that the development programme gives a good chance of acceptance onto its casualty Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) qualification programme. However, this is available to only the best performing paralegals. The firm currently has 230 paralegals in its serious injury practice; of these, 10 have successful applied to start the SQE this autumn.
The scheme has been praised by participants, such as Deena Husain who commented that the programme has provided a diverse range of participants with an essential foundation for progression in the legal industry. Statistics demonstrate that the scheme has successfully provided opportunities to a diverse range of people – of the 25 recruited 88% are women, 45% come from an ethnic minority background and 45% studied at a non-Russell Group university.
Richard Stewart, Clyde & Co’s chief operating officer for casualty, said: “While we knew our paralegal academy would be attractive to people looking for those first steps in a legal career, we hadn’t anticipated quite how high demand for places would be. This is a genuinely new route to a legal qualification and goes a long way towards breaking down some of the barriers that have deterred some groups from entering the profession.” The number of applicants, with a 2.5% acceptance rate, demonstrates the importance of more programmes aimed at improving the legal field’s diversity.