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I have a BSc in a social science and LLM and currently work in a support role, that I want out of. I did the LLM 'just because', I had no real reason other than the course seemed interesting It hasn't added to my earning potential so far.
I'm thinking of going into paralegal work, but want more info. I could get experience at a friend's practice, but is it worth going for a PgDip in paralegal practice, or is it more money down the drain?
Any advice from those in the field very welcome.
Thanks MrsMorton, hopefully someone will come along soon.
Why not have a chat with this lot about it all. They are very well regarded in supplying paralegals and many go onto qualified positions (if that's of interest).
I suspect that most paras don't do any further exams unless or until they've decided to make it their permanent job and want something "extra" on top of their day to day experience. (Disclaimer: am solicitor who does not work with paras!)
Thank you @Tablefor4, will look into that.
I'd get experience first and see if you enjoy it. If you don't, it's moot.
FWIW, I've never worked with a qualified paralegal, it's a role you go into with experience as either a stepping stone to a TC / fee earning / ILEX or as a general 'career paralegal' move.
I'm qualified now. I was a paralegal on my way there.
I’m a solicitor and run my own practice. Over 20 years pqe.
Have you researched how much paralegals actually earn?
Hello, i qualified through cilex as I came from a very poor family background and couldn't afford to take time doing the lpc and training contract. It's really difficult in early twenties without family money behind you and I didn't have any.
The legal world for the most part is becoming far more accepting of alternative routes for qualification so it's worth looking into, there are lots of routes into the profession and apprenticeships.
The areas you are likely to struggle to break into are magic circle high end commercial firms
Thank you both for your replies. NoWord did you just start with very basic admin and build on that?
Has yes I have looked into it, there is a differentiation between junior and senior salaries, not sure how that is measured? Do you have to have a certain amount of years in service to qualify as a senior? I'm not looking for a career as such, just a job that will keep me ticking over so not too worried about salary.
Just to clarify, I'm not intending to use it as a stepping stone onto being a solicitor. It would be my job until I retire.
I went back to uni to do the GDL and LPC, then got whatever legal job I could get after that. I worked my way up from secretary, to legal assistant, to paralegal, to trainee solicitor.
The people who were career paralegals did similar, job progression-wise (but not qualification-wise), but stopped at paralegal.
I don't know any paralegals who started as such (though some firms use the term for what other firms call legal assistants, who tend to be more admin-based than doing legal work, in my experience).
What do you mean by 'paralegal', due to the above distinction between different firms?
NoWord from what I've read online my understanding is that you would start with filing/admin and learn on the job? Since I don't have a law degree I couldn't exactly start drafting legal letters etc, although I do have good writing skills so could do general letter writing. This was why I thought a pg dip might be useful, as it would provide some sort of ground work?
I think you would be better off doing the ILEX exams which are more regnoised within the legal profession. Indeed you may even want to look into the SQE and the preparation courses for those as 2 years of paralegal employment means you would actually qualify as a solicitor. I am not sure why you don't want to qualify as a solicitor as the kind of work that Senior Paralegals do is usually the same type of work as solicitors and although there are many being paid the same there are more being paid admin type salaries.
I'm a solicitor. I'd look into the cilex personally, as you'd at least have the qualification route open to you if you wanted to. At my firm, the paralegals have their own caseload and the more senior/experienced paralegals do the same work as a solicitor anyway, but get paid a lot less...
As pps above have said, there can be a big difference between a paralegal at one firm in terms of the workload, and other firms, where you could end up as an admin assistant with a paralegal job title.
Many firms will also pay for the cilex as it adds value to them - they bill your time at a higher grade, so see it as an investment.
Season from what I've read (on here) life for a junior solicitor is hell-ish and you have to put in 60 + hours a week in order to prove yourself. I have no time/inclination/energy to pursue that lifestyle, even if it is just for a few years. I am 40 so feel age is against me too. Very interesting thought that after 2 years you can become a solicitor. Will look into the CILEX, thanks all.
Op - you'd have to pick your firm carefully, but you'd be foregoing the big bucks for the work life balance.
I work 8-4 or 9-5 depending on husband's shifts/childcare, and am out the door on the dot. Usually behind a few of the partners/senior associates. I earn a reasonable salary, but am well aware I'm not going to be a high earner, but that's okay with me. What isn't negotiable for me is tea, bath, stories and bed with my children.
In truly urgent cases, I will put my laptop on in the evening and continue after the children are asleep, but that's not "I've got a lot on", that's "this court order has come in with a deadline of 2 days away".
My firm has no presenteeism, which I like.
P.s I'm junior - only 3 years pqe. I'm left fairly alone though, I work hard and meet my targets. My supervisors trust me to get the job done. I'm well aware that their level of trust in me makes my job a lot less pressured.
It depends where you work and what your area of specialism is. I've only ever worked stupid hours pre-qualification, but I'm in an unpopular (to the public!) specialism and have only worked at firms which value work / life balance since I qualified. (If I'd stayed at the firm I qualified at, I'd have kept the stupid hours, but there was no role for me.)
The hit I've taken is that I'll never earn big money. I earn above the national average, but I am not a higher rate tax payer and I'm unlikely to be within the next few years. I'm happy with that, personally. I was almost-40 when I qualified. My working like a donkey days were behind me!
@Eileen101, I'm like you with my career, but a couple of years ahead, PQE.
Im a solicitor and have worked with career paralegals who didn't want to qualify as a solicitor and end up working all hours at the beck and call of a law firm partner (although many still appeared to be!) One also did a very specific type of work which they enjoyed and didn't want to be doing anything else. At my firm there were only a handful of career paralegals though- most used paralegal as a route to get experience and get a training contract. I've interviewed and hired a fair few paralegals in my time and I don't think I've come across that qualification you mention (or if I have it obviously didn't sway my decision!). However It depends somewhat what area of law interests you and the work a paralegal might be expected to do and how your existing skills match to that and what any additional qualification might add. The paralegals in my team in my old firm (corporate)were often doing due diligence on large matters and producing reports, a paralegal did my complete house sale and purchase, along with a full caseload of other similar matters, and one of the paralegals in my team now is mainly admin and operations, but we also have another paralegal who is like a contracts manager so pretty varied.
Others have suggested CILEX- that is something I have come across and is generally well accepted and respected. My friend did part time LPC alongside her paralegal job and hopes to qualify in the long run.
I would get some work experience with your friend first and that should open doors to get other experience in other firms if you liked it and wanted to try different types of firms/ work. You can then get a better feel for what qualifications would suit you and the type of role you want in the long run (whether that be para, solicitor or something else). Good luck!
How do I go about doing the CILEX? Do I have to be working in a firm before I do this?
Eileen your work day seems very doable, thanks for sharing.
Have you considered taking an SQE preparation course and just sitting SQE 1 and 2 when they start this fall? You no longer need a law degree to quality as a solicitor.
It is simply any 3 year undergrad degree, SQE 1 and 2, 2 years experience (old training contract) and then become a solicitor.
Food for thought.
And like @NoWordForFluffy and @Eileen101 Ive done the hellish hours as a junior and moved when my second daughter was born and I was 5pqe as I was missing out on too much family life and. Being pressured to progress my career (i.e. work more hours!) . I now don't earn big money, , but it's a very very rare occurrence I'm not home for bedtime and I have the flexibility to go to school plays, doctors appointments etc and work life balance is really valued. So don't rule out qualification on the grounds you must work like a donkey - it's certainly not true everywhere. The juniors in my team aren't expected to do any more hours than me or the other more qualified solicitors and have the same flexibility. We also have a variety of backgrounds and ages in our team so don't let that put you off either!