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Become a legal eagle; Careers in paralegal services.

Byline: Sue Kelbrick

Sue Kelbrick on a legal role which requires tact, accuracy and excellent communication skills What does a career as a paralegal involve? Paralegals carry out a range of legal work and though they aren't a fully qualified solicitor, they undertake a lot of work solicitors do. As a junior paralegal, duties would typically involve preparing legal documents, research, typing, filing and other general clerical tasks, while more experienced paralegals would undertake other tasks including interviewing clients and witnesses, giving clients legal information, going to court, handling a caseload of clients and presenting applications to district judges.

What skills are needed? To become a paralegal, you will need to have excellent spoken and written communication skills, patience and tact, to be able to work with all kinds of clients, the ability to absorb large amounts of complex information and a high level of accuracy.

What training do you need? Employers may ask for qualifications such as a paralegal studies qualification from the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX), the National Association of Licensed Paralegals, or the Institute of Paralegals, or a legal secretary qualification at level 2 or level 3 from the Institute of Legal Executives.

Alternatively, a BTEC HNC/ HND or foundation degree in law or legal studies, a law degree or ILEX level 6 qualification would also be ideal.

Relevant work experience in a legal setting will also help you when looking for work. If you have not studied law before, you could look for an administrative role with a law firm and study for paralegal qualifications while you are working. Some employers provide on-the-job training.

You could also study for paralegal and legal secretarial qualifications while working. Courses are available from ILEX with City and Guilds, the National Association of Licensed Paralegals and the Institute of Paralegals.

What are the opportunities for career progression? With experience and further study, you could qualify as a legal executive and eventually as a solicitor. If you have already completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC), some law firms may offer you a training contract to allow you to qualify.

What is the salary? (Guideline only) Starting salaries between PS10,000 and PS25,000 a year. With experience this can rise up to PS40,000 a year, with top salaries in large law firms reaching PS70,000 a year.

More information? ILEX, www.ilex.org.uk ? Institute of Paralegals, www.theiop.org ? National Association of Licensed Paralegals, www.nationalparalegals.com ? Details only. Jobs not necessarily available.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 29, 2012
Words:415
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