Registered paralegals: what trends?
Report of a survey on the working to date of the Registered Paralegal Scheme, and why people decide to join
The registered paralegal status will be five years old in August. Last year, the Society worked with employers, HR people and registered paralegals to see how it could improve the scheme.
Over 400 people have signed up for the voluntary scheme. When asked why they had done so, the most important reason was the professional recognition. It mattered to paralegals that they had a defined status that was understood by the profession, and that this could only be granted to those who had significant experience, expertise and a relevant qualification. The distinction from simply being a paralegal was important, and was increasingly being noticed by clients and employers.
Employers largely agreed. Most had signed their paralegals up to the scheme as recognition of their work and their capabilities. It was part of their ongoing staff development which, in turn, would help the business and their clients.
What of the future? Ultimately it is employer led: the registered paralegal status has to be relevant to the needs of practitioners and their paralegals. It was telling, though, that so many predicted that the role of the registered paralegal will become more prominent. Over 90% of employers thought paralegals will increasingly do client-facing work, and a similar number thought that the ratio of paralegals to solicitors would increase. Nearly 80% thought paralegals would become involved in more complex legal work. Over half thought that clients would, in due course, call to see paralegals accredited in some way.
If these developments do come about, it is likely that a standard based around experience, expertise and qualifications will become necessary for employers and clients alike. The registered paralegal status offers such a standard.