The Lost Law Graduates
Out of Alignment: Carter and the Legal Services Act fuel demand for paralegals whilst the profession shuns LL.B graduates unable to afford the LPC...
The Institute of Paralegals indentifies key struggles facing Law Graduates who cannot afford their LPC...
The Carter legal aid reforms, the Legal Services Act and the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority’s Training Framework Review all implicitly lead to greater use and recognition of, and demand for, professional paralegals. So where are they all going to come from?- asks the Institute of Paralegals.
Further questions are raised by the professional body; How is an un-regarded, underpaid, unregulated, and largely untrained fractured workforce going to metamorphose into a coherent and consistent group of professionals able to meet the demands of clients, regulators, employers, the government and the risk management assessors?
Spokespersons at the Institue go to say that the best available pool of candidates is the thousands of law students each year who want to stay in the profession but cannot do so as they cannot go on to the LPC – usually for financial reasons.
However, instead of encouraging them to join the profession in a paralegal or other graduate support-staff role, the profession shuns them – law firms won’t take them as they have no practice experience or training. Legal recruitment companies won’t put them on their books for the same reason, and both the Law Society and Solicitors Regulatory Authority consider them not to yet be in the profession, and so beyond their respective remits. In the face of such indifference the majority of this talent is lost to the profession for good as the graduates then pursue non-law career options.
James O’Connell, Chief Executive of the Institute of paralegals said “As a profession, we are guilty of terrible waste here. There are thousands of talented graduates who want to contribute, but the fractured nature of the sector means they are not getting the chance.”
The Institute of Paralegals is taking the lead in creating the framework for a true paralegal profession: national competency standards, training frameworks, professional designations and codes of conduct etc.
To try and keep the thousands of LL.B graduates in the profession each year the Institute has partnered BPP Law School. Both organisations want to encourage more graduates to stay in the profession by creating the first formalised route by which law graduates can qualify as professional paralegals. Their partnership has led to the creation of a new qualification especially designed to build upon students’ academic studies. The qualification: the LPQ Foundation Certificate in Paralegal Practice is a postgraduate course designed to provide the essential practice and procedural skills that law firms require. It is the lack of these skills and knowledge that currently makes LL.B students unattractive to employers.
BPP and the Institute wish to begin a national dialogue with law schools about the training and career needs of the fast-emerging paralegal profession. The LPQ Foundation Certificate is the first step in that dialogue and it is hoped that law schools will work with the Institute and BPP law School on developing and delivering the qualification.
The Institute supports the qualification by offering fast-track Associate Membership to those law graduates obtaining the qualification. The course leading to the qualification also includes significant amounts of careers advice.
LPQ means Legal Professional Qualification™ - and is the ‘brand name’ for the new suite of nationally recognised legal qualifications designed especially for paralegals and law firm support and business support staff.
For more information vist www.theinstituteofparalegals.org
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