Paralegal work is an option to law graduates who have ran into a teeny bit of difficulty securing a training contract. Paralegals can be compared to nurses. Just as nurses support doctors in their work, paralegal give a helping hand to the lawyer.
Paralegal work involves assistance with legal and non-legal tasks, particularly with litigation or corporate teams of larger law firms. Sound like your cup of tea? Good. Now let’s explore the benefits of paralegal work.
You don’t need any qualifications
Yep, you read that right. To be a paralegal, you don’t need any qualifications. However, this doesn’t mean that all paralegals have the same responsibilities and knowledge. You could join a law firm as a paralegal immediately after your GCSEs and join the ‘typing pool’. Alternatively, there are people who choose to have an entire career doing paralegal work, perhaps as a legal secretary.
Therefore, if you don’t quite fancy going to university or are unsure, you could dip your toe in the legal industry by becoming a junior paralegal and preparing legal documents. A more experienced paralegal may even interview clients and witnesses, give clients legal information and going to court.
Stepping stone to a training contract
If you are a recent law graduate struggling to get your mitts on a training contract, it’s important not to have the attitude that paralegal work is ‘below’ you. It’s absolutely fine to have goals and aspirations but paralegal work can actually help you land a training contract. Some firms will recruit trainees from their paralegal roster.
This is beneficial to both parties; the graduate can get valuable legal work experience under their belt in a firm environment putting into practice their knowledge and skills such as drafting and legal research. The firm can assess the credentials of the future trainee based on their work performance rather than in an assessment centre or interview. Of course, you can only work at one firm, essentially spending a year in a paralegal role just to apply for a job. Nevertheless, it’s something for graduates to consider when on the hunt for training contracts.
Career options for paralegals
Paralegals don’t just work for law firms. They can work as an adviser for a charity or trade unions, police forces or enforcement organisations or even private companies, advising on business law or managing contracts.
Additionally, there is more of a work-life balance for the paralegal. As a solicitor you’ll undoubtedly work long hours, often to the early hours. You won’t get as flashy a salary as a paralegal, but hey… weekends will be a thing!