Paralegal apprenticeship revamp hopes to increase diversity in legal profession

updated on 09 May 2023

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The National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) has revealed that the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard is being completely overhauled. The new standard will involve improvements “designed to give the apprentices a great foundation on which to build a career” and is set to be launched this summer, according to Jane Robson, CEO of NALP.

Further to this, several new end-point assessment organisations, including NALP, have been approved to deliver the assessment, providing apprentices, employers and training providers with more choice when it comes to the assessment’s delivery.

On top of this, smaller firms, including in-house legal teams, are being encouraged to offer apprenticeships due to the benefits they bring.

Further, in recent years, the lack of diversity in the legal profession has become a pressing. Notably, it’s become increasingly clear that the profession doesn’t represent the diversity of the population, meaning it fails to reflect those it’s representing.

The Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Regulation Authority’s annual reports highlight the staggering inequality in ethnicity and gender at both the Bar and in solicitor firms, as well as how beneficial having a more diverse workforce is for the sector. Similarly, the regulators also recognised the importance and benefits of legal professionals coming “from all walks of life”, says Robson. This was just one of the many factors that pushed forward the Higher Apprenticeships in Legal Services that were launched in 2013.

The start of apprenticeships also created valuable and viable pathways into law for those deterred by the high cost of legal education. Since then, apprenticeships have continued to grow in popularity with 2016 seeing the launch of four trailblazer apprenticeships, including the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard.

In a statement regarding the changes, Robson wrote: “One of the many positives of paralegals undergoing the overhauled apprenticeship is that they get real-world experience of dealing with legal matters and even, in some cases, with clients. Paralegals are the fastest growing profession within the legal sector, so this experience can make the knowledge and qualifications gained during their apprenticeship invaluable to other potential employers, enhancing their transferable skills and opening more doors for them.”