First paralegal qualifies as a solicitor through SRA’s equivalent means route

The alternative 'equivalent means' route to qualifying as a solicitor has been successfully completed for the first time by Robert Houchill, who had been working as a senior paralegal in the immigration team at Bates Wells Braithwaite and is now a solicitor in the same team.

Houchill worked in a paralegal role at Bates Wells Braithwaite for four-and-a-half years after completing his LPC. As the Law Society Gazette reports, he applied for qualification as a solicitor to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) through the regulator’s Training for Tomorrow programme and was able to demonstrate that his professional experiences and skills were of the same standard as someone qualifying through a traditional training contract.

The SRA’s Training for Tomorrow reforms are designed to make the process of qualifying as a solicitor more flexible. The equivalent means route to qualification is a key component of this, as it enables experience gained through paralegal and support roles to be recognised as the equivalent of a training contract, providing the candidate can demonstrate that those experiences fulfil the SRA’s rigorous qualification criteria.

Speaking to the Law Society Gazette, Houchill said he would prefer to have qualified through a training contract, but that the equivalent means route maintains the high standards and rigorous requirements of the solicitors’ profession. Houchill said: "I am sympathetic to people who are anxious this is going to undermine the profession or reduce the quality of people being admitted, but the SRA has made it a demanding process and you have to provide evidence you’ve done an awful lot to prepare. I’m not falling into the profession, I know it well."

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