Lawyer Monthly - April 2022

41 APR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM WHAT OTHER OPTIONS DO YOU HAVE AFTER GETTING A LAW DEGREE? have been encouraged to apply for the professional examinations. Consequently, the numbers seeking training contracts increased exponentially. Paying for a law degree and then for their LPC with no chance of moving forward due to the lack of training contracts quite rightly caused grave concern to those who had been encouraged to take this route. Meanwhile, instead of a decrease in the cost of the LPC, which would be a logical course of action, given the number and choice of institutions running the same, the cost of the LPC was increasing year-onyear. The crucial time came around 2013 when, after much debate and discussion, the LETR (Legal Education and Training Review) was published. In that review, it was admitted that the cost and time factor to qualify was inaccessible and unacceptable for many, and that changes to the route to qualification were recommended. Even then, it took the SRA five years or so before announcing its intention to create the new SQE (Solicitors’ Qualifying Examinations), and a further three years before finally announcing when the first examinations would take place. We have yet to see whether this new route to qualification – described as being a ‘more accessible’ route to qualifying as a solicitor – is, in fact, just that. The Virtual Eradication of Legal Aid In April 2013, a few months before the LETR there are currently many more solicitors and barristers offering their services on a pro-bono basis to try to counteract the deficiency, but the profession is unable to sustain this indefinitely. The consequence of all this is that the paralegal profession has developed to fill that gap. Until now, paralegals were seen as low-paid assistants for solicitors and nothing more than law graduates seeking that ever-elusive training contract to qualify as solicitors. In other words, ‘wannabe’ solicitors. In practice, this is certainly not the case. Many law graduates have since discovered that, with a little further training and several years’ experience, they can offer their services to consumers at a vastly reduced cost. Most paralegal practitioners may charge anywhere between £30-£80 per hour depending on the nature of services required. Many will offer a fixed fees for certain other services. was published, legal aid was drastically changed. It had been an important element of consumers’ access to justice: the ability to offer free, or reduced cost, legal advice and assistance that had been in place since 1949. The reason given for the change was to reduce the legal aid bill by introducing strict restrictions on those who would be able to apply for legal aid. This has had the effect of excluding all save those involved in urgent cases, such as being made homeless or losing one’s liberty. Without a shadow of a doubt, this change has put consumers’ access to justice at stark risk, since without legal aid they are unable to afford the fees of solicitors and barristers. With solicitors charging between £250-£600 per hour for their services and barristers £200-£400 per hour, it is no wonder. As a result, a gap opened in the provision of legal assistance for consumers at a reasonable cost. It is true to say that Paralegal roles are available in every organisation as long as there is a legal requirement to be fulfilled.

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