Paralegals provide a supporting role to lawyers in all aspects of their work, across a range of industries including private practice, not-for-profit and public sector.
This highly-varied role may involve anything from performing background research, preparing documentation and interviewing clients, to basic administrative duties.
Paralegals can also specialise in a specific area of the law, for example criminal or corporate law.
This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to know about the role of a paralegal, including salary ranges, duties and responsibilities and a sample job description.
- Paralegal job description
- How much do paralegals earn?
- What does a paralegal do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs paralegals?
- Which junior jobs progress to paralegal roles?
Paralegal job description
Paralegal |Bradford & Partners Solicitors
About Bradford & Partners Solicitors
Specialising in employment law, the team at Bradford & Partners support employees and individuals with issues such as unfair dismissal, equal pay and discrimination. Our firm consists of four partners, 12 solicitors and six paralegals.
About the role
We are seeking a paralegal who can support our team of experienced solicitors. They will need to help with preparation for hearings and trials, as well as undertake legal research and maintain case file documentation. Some administrative duties will also be required, including answering phones, photocopying documents and filing.
- Helping solicitors with their caseloads including conducting research, collecting evidence and writing reports
- Meeting with and interviewing clients and witnesses
- Liaising with court staff, legal professionals and other parties to ensure the smooth running of cases and hearings
- Attending court with solicitors, as required
- Preparing draft legal documents including witness statements and processing evidence
- Lodging court applications
- Managing administrative duties such as answering phone calls, making appointments and occasional reception duties
Location & commitments
- Permanent, full-time position
- Based in Manchester
- Standard business hours, with occasional late evening or weekend work
- Graduate LLB or the GDL
- Minimum 12 months’ working in a legal environment
- Proven experience managing clients
- Strong attention to detail, and excellent writing and communication skills
- Experience using IKEN case management software
- Experience or interest in employment law
Contact us to apply
Please contact Bridget Maloney in our HR department if you think you’d be a good fit for the role. Send your CV and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
How much do paralegals earn?
Paralegals earn an average of £27,000 in the UK, a relatively high base salary for a role not requiring any formal qualifications.
Paralegal salaries in the UK
- Low: £21,000
- Average: £27,000
- High: £42,500
Paralegal salaries can vary based on;
- Type of company – e.g. is the role for a large, multi-national firm or a small, family-run practice?
- Area of specialism – the type of law being practiced can influence salaries, for example corporate law, family law, criminal law etc.
- Level of experience – e.g. is the role for someone new to the industry or are they seeking a highly experienced paralegal who can provide advice directly to clients?
For example, an experienced paralegal specialising in compliance and working for a global company can earn a good deal more than a first-year paralegal working for a high street firm in regional England.
What does a paralegal do?
This section breaks down the job description into simple terms, listing the tasks and responsibilities a paralegal can expect in an average working week;
- Interviewing clients and witnesses – Undertaking formal interviews with people related to the case and preparing supporting documents
- Analysing reports and data – Researching complex matters including existing legal documentation and cases
- Drafting correspondence – Preparing documentation for clients, attorneys and the court such as demand or advocacy letters and opinion letters
- Managing case files – Ensuring all case files and supporting documentation is appropriately organised and filed
- Performing administrative duties – Carrying out a range of office administration including answering phones, setting up appointments and filing paperwork
- Supporting colleagues – Providing support to senior staff including solicitors, barristers and partners
- Reporting – Providing regular updates to supervisors and partners regarding legal projects
What do paralegals need?
Paralegals do not require any formal qualifications, but the role is seen as a launchpad into a legal career so positions can be highly sought after and competitive.
Here is a basic overview of what’s needed.
Ideally, paralegals will have some experience in a legal environment or passion for a particular area of the law. For entry-level paralegal positions this comes in the form of work experience or study.
To succeed as a paralegal, a candidate must possess a number of skills including:
- Organisational skills – Managing a number of competing tasks, and keeping on top of deadlines such as hearings, meetings and interviews
- Interpersonal skills – The ability to develop relationships with a wide range of people including clients, colleagues and other legal professionals
- Computer literacy – Using a range of different software including the Microsoft Office suite, email systems and specialist legal software to manage cases
- Discretion – Building trust with clients and witnesses, then storing sensitive and confidential information appropriately
- Research and analysis skills – Undertaking complex legal research such as reviewing laws, judicial decisions and legal literature and collating reports with a high attention to detail
- Legal knowledge – Understanding of the legal system including court procedures and government regulations, and in some cases an area of speciality such as real estate law or criminal law
While paralegals aren’t required to have a formal qualification, the industry is highly competitive so many people choose to study one of the following areas to start their career in law.
National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) qualifications
NALP offers a range of qualifications for people looking to start a career as a paralegal. The Level 3 Paralegal Practice diploma improves understanding of the legal system in England and Wales, and lets candidates explore specialist legal areas such as criminal litigation and commercial law.
Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
The GDL is a conversion course for students who have completed their undergraduate degree but wish to change their career path to law. Many universities across the UK offer this conversion course, both online and on campus.
Legal Practice Course (LPC)
The LPC is studied after completion of a law degree or GDL and is considered the final stage in becoming a solicitor in England and Wales. The course is offered full time or part time, and aims to bridge the gap between academic study and real-world legal training.
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) also run a Paralegal Trailblazer apprenticeship for school leavers. The apprenticeship lasts for two years and focuses on Civil Litigation, Commercial, Employment, Family, Property and Probate Practice.
What is expected of paralegals?
Typically, paralegals will be expected to commit to the following;
- Full time hours – Minimum 35-40 hours per week during business hours
- Some evenings and weekends during busy periods
- Location – Office based with some time spent in court or meeting with clients or witnesses
Paralegals receive a number of benefits in addition to their base salaries including things like:
- Training and development
- Opportunities to progress within the industry
- Additional corporate benefits – Such as season ticket loans, subsidised health club membership and childcare vouchers
Who employs paralegals?
The majority of paralegals work for solicitors and barristers in private firms. However, there are opportunities to work in-house for a range of different large organisations, who require the services of a permanent legal team.
Typical paralegal employers include companies like:
- Private law firms – Companies who provide legal advice and services to other organisations
- Not-for-profit organisations
- Large corporate organisations
- Government judicial offices
- Insurance companies
Which junior jobs progress to paralegal roles?
Paralegals are entry-level positions with most people entering the profession directly from school or university. It is well regarded if candidates have had some exposure to the law when applying for jobs, but this is likely to be gained through internships or work experience placements. Other opportunities include starting in administrative roles such as receptionists or mail room staff.
Which senior jobs do paralegals progress to?
Becoming a paralegal is often the first step on a career path to becoming a solicitor or barrister. However, some highly experienced and specialist paralegals can command high salaries without progressing further from their existing job title.
Solicitors are qualified professionals who offer advice and legal support to clients across a range of topics including employment, discrimination, insolvency and family law. They prepare papers for court and negotiate on behalf of their client to reach the best possible outcome. Solicitors often work in firms and liaise directly with their clients.
Barristers represent their clients in court and tribunals, as well as through written advice. They are often hired by solicitors and act as the client’s representative when arguing cases. They too specialise in specific areas of law including criminal, entertainment and family law. Barristers are often self-employed and work in Chambers.
Paralegal job description – conclusion
The role of a paralegal is incredibly diverse and interesting, allowing workers to interact with a range of different people and realise their passion for the law.
It is also the ideal stepping stone into a long-term legal career, with plenty of opportunities to further studies and become a solicitor or barrister.