One more paralegal role will do it

This is about the possible value of consecutive paralegal roles with respect to landing a training contract.

I received a speculative application for a job recently with a cv + cover letter, with a follow-up phone call. It was from a candidate who had had a succession of eight paralegal roles at both (i) large brand law firms (including 3 top 10 firms) and (ii) large corporates (including the legal departments of FTSE-100 companies) and was looking for another similar role.

This candidate thought that the more big brand legal employers’ names on his cv, the better the chances of winning a training contract (at a firm of any size). So the focus of his efforts was at the expense of applying for training contracts for the next year or so.

We discussed this for a bit and the fact that there are fewer training contracts around. We also discussed the diminishing value (even detriment) of more and more short term paralegal contracts on a TC cv. So I hope that he is now applying for some training contracts at smaller firms as well, even if in the short term they might be lower paid than the next large firm paralegal role.

Guest blog from @ParalegalTony “Paralegal Pyramids”

A guest blog from Paralegal and part-time LPC student Anthony Lyons (@ParalegalTony) sharing his thoughts on the best ways to break into the legal profession whilst searching for a training contract:

“A CHANGING OF AGE: PARALEGAL PYRAMIDS

The hunt for a training contract from the grass roots up will soon become a frivolous dream for most. Paralegals are taking over the legal profession but with most biding their time by gaining experience whilst searching for a training contract; law firms have something very different in mind for them.

On trawling job sites and speaking to legal recruitment consultants a word has consistently been annexed to the job role – “career”. A career paralegal seems to be what law firms are looking for in light of the significant changes in legal practice. Business models are gearing up to restructure in pyramid forms having a proportionately smaller number of qualified solicitors taking on the complex legal tasks and paralegals dealing with the bulk of legal administration.

The model logically makes sense with the legal profession coming under scrutiny for their costs, most particularly in private client matters where individuals are burdened by the higher fee rates of solicitors. Although what does this have in store for law graduates and those who have bundled their way through the LPC and not yet secured a training contract?

Being a paralegal is an exciting and varied role. Depending on the type of firm and particular area of law the work can be both challenging and stimulating. At a recent interview for an international law firm they were impressed by my understanding of certain practical issues in property law which they would not expect even their own trainees to have knowledge of.

The most obvious drawback for law graduates looking to gain legal practice experience as a paralegal is salary. With less than 6 months experience it can be a fight to negotiate anything over £16,000 and recruitment agents will often overlook your CV. Salaries do pick up but not at the rate you see in most graduate positions. Competition is rife with the flood of students completing the LPC and not securing training contracts so anyone with a basic understanding of supply and demand should factor this into their salary expectations.

Having worked with paralegals who have indeed now chosen the role as a career it is daunting to think what was once considered a “stopgap” might now be the pinnacle of many a law graduate’s career.

If you have any questions about becoming a paralegal feel free to ask me directly on Twitter @ParalegalTony.”