By Amanda Hamilton, NALP
If you’re wondering what to do next because you’ve been made redundant during the corona virus crisis, or perhaps the time off has made you rethink your career path – then how about a career in law?
Working as a paralegal can be a very rewarding way of earning a living. It also offers flexibility, career progression and the opportunity to specialise in certain sectors.
Where do you start?
You may be thinking that you know nothing and that you can’t afford to re-train, but there are some basic courses available that don’t cost the earth and will give you a solid foundation. For example, the NPC (National Paralegal College) runs a Paralegal Skills Course (which is CPD accredited) for £250. This is specifically designed to teach you the practical skills needed to work as a freelance paralegal.
However, if a qualification is what you’re after, then the NALP Level 3 Award is what you need. This covers all the basic areas of academic law including, English Legal System, Contract Law, Law of Tort and a choice of another legal topic. The cost is £450 and is a fully nationally recognised qualification.
You may decide to do both of these courses which complement each other and gives you all you need to work as a freelance.
Working as a freelancer
This requires a little know-how and a lot of common sense. As a freelance paralegal, you offer your services to solicitors, barristers or in-house legal departments and are paid on an hourly, daily or weekly rate. The benefit to a business (such as a firm of solicitors or barrister’s chambers or indeed in-house company legal departments) is that they don’t need to employ someone full time, they can agree hours to suit you and their needs, they can choose specialists for certain jobs or projects, and in some cases (depending on IR35) they aren’t responsible for your tax and national insurance as you will be self-employed.
What if you already have a legal/paralegal qualification?
If you’ve already gained a paralegal or general legal qualification and were made redundant during lockdown or never quite made it to the job market before lockdown, then the world is your oyster! If you need to be employed then consider the following; you don’t just need to apply to work in a solicitors’ firm. All companies, whether they be charities or private and public sector organisations, will have a legal element to what they do and will consequently have a legal department. Choose a business that matches your interests.
Rule of thumb
Don’t apply to any recruitment companies unless you know you fulfil their eligibility criteria.
They’ll only turn you down and that can be demoralising. Go directly to the law firms or companies. Once social distancing allows, visit the firms as face-to-face contact is always the best option. It will have much more impact than sending out your CV or emailing.
Hopefully, the information above will assist you in your chosen career as a paralegal.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Hamilton is Chief Executive of the National Association of Licenced Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit Membership Body and the only Paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its Centres, accredited recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for a career as a paralegal professional.
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-hamilton-llb-hons-840a6a16/