The New Paralegal Apprenticeships Standard – paving the way for new careers in property law - PropertyBlawg

The New Paralegal Apprenticeships Standard – paving the way for new careers in property law

by PropertyBlawg on August 5, 2023

By Jane Robson, CEO, National Association of Licensed Paralegals

With the overhaul of the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard being completed this year, is now the right time to take on, or become, a Paralegal Apprentice?

The legal profession has tended to be regarded as somewhat elitist, attracting recruits from a limited pool.  However, in recent years, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) have sought to address issues of inequality and diversity. Just as they had previously noted that ethnic and gender equality was extremely beneficial to the legal sector, they recognised that having professionals from every walk of life brings similar benefits.  This led to the first legal apprenticeships – the Higher Apprenticeships in Legal Services – being introduced in 2013.

In his speech on reforming legal education in 2012, the then Supreme Court President, Lord Neuberger, estimated the overall cost of entering the legal profession through university at around £100,000 including living expenses, highlighting the inherent threat that such high costs present to the diversity of the professionals in that sector and the importance of alternate routes.

He stated: “A less diverse profession is an impoverished one, one less able to reflect and support a flourishing democracy committed to the rule of law”.

The new apprenticeships brought new options to those who had exited formal education without going on to higher education, but who wanted to work in Law and were put off by those high costs, particularly when they were not guaranteed a job at the end of it. After the success of the initial apprenticeships four ‘Trailblazer apprenticeships’ were set up in England in 2016, replacing the earlier ones. Not least of these was the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard which continues to grow in popularity, despite a few hiccups when it was first launched, including the End Point Assessment Organisation, CILEX, being sanctioned by Ofqual in 2019 following major issues with the first assessments in 2018.

Coming to the present day and the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard has been extensively reviewed and completely overhauled, with the newest version (released in June 2023) bringing many improvements designed to give the apprentices a great foundation on which to build a career as a Professional Paralegal. It now covers more issues that affect today’s law firms, such as the increased use of internet-based research tools, climate change and carbon footprints, as well as diversity and equality.  The new Standard also takes into account the fact that, with greater cyber-based tools, comes a greater need to be aware of cyber security.

In addition to the expansion of topics covered, the choice of End Point Assessment Organisations has also increased with more EPAOs approved to deliver the End Point Assessment for the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard. One of those new End Point Assessment Organisations is NALP (The National Association of Licensed Paralegals), the UK’s oldest established professional membership body for paralegals. With the new Standard having been signed off by the Department for Education, NALP will be able to take on enrolments for the new Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard from 1st August 2023.

There are also moves being made to encourage smaller firms to take on apprentices. In-house legal teams can benefit from having a paralegal apprentice, as can small specialist firms, such as conveyancers who often rely heavily on the work carried out by paralegals.

One of the many positives of paralegals undergoing an apprenticeship is that they get real-world experience of dealing with legal matters and even, in some cases, with clients. Paralegals are the fastest growing profession within the legal sector, so this experience can make the knowledge and qualifications gained during their apprenticeship invaluable to other potential employers, enhancing their transferable skills and opening more doors for them.

One of those doors being opened is for those who wish to offer services directly to clients as Professional Paralegal Practitioners. Since the virtual eradication of legal aid, more and more individuals have found themselves acting as Litigants in Person when facing a legal issue and paralegals have been in demand to provide the advice and guidance they need to deal with their legal problems. Having well-trained Professional Paralegal Practitioners is vital to ensure that such Litigants in Person have access to justice at a reasonable cost.

Apprenticeships are a hugely beneficial addition to the legal profession, giving access to careers to people for whom this would have been unachievable in the past. They will continue to go from strength to strength.


Jane Robson is CEO of the National Association of Licensed 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 around the country, accredited and recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for those looking for a career as a paralegal professional.


Twitter: @NALP_UK


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