Paralegal Qualification

| Career Insights

Paralegal Qualification

Paralegals have the substantial legal knowledge and play an important role in supporting other legal professionals. They provide and perform a variety of legal services and administrative tasks to clients, ranging from undertaking interviews and giving advice to carrying out research and drafting documents. The public, private and voluntary sectors reflect a rising demand for paralegals working in the government, law firms, chambers, non-profit organisations, and charities. Find out your route to paralegal qualification in this article.

Degree apprenticeship

Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship

College students and school leavers may apply for the Paralegal Apprenticeship as an alternative to university education. Most apprenticeships determine their entry requirements based on GCSE and A-Level results and any additional criteria. A paralegal apprenticeship is a combination of paid work and study over 2 years. It is distinct to gain practical experience in real-life cases. Upon completion, law firms often offer apprentices to be permanent staff in full-time employment. Furthermore, apprentices may advance to a Level 6 Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship or a level 7 Solicitor Apprenticeship with a reduced training period of 3 and 4 years, respectively.

Examples of law firms offering paralegal apprenticeships are:

Addleshaw Goddard

Burges Salmon

Clyde & Co


Irwin Mitchell



Academic Degree

Level 6 Bachelor of Laws (LLB)

In general, employers consider candidates with legal background or training in paralegal recruitment. A qualifying Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree with a minimum of lower second-class honours (2:2) would demonstrate a solid foundation in law. Along with satisfactory GCSE and A-Level grades, law graduates can stand themselves in good stead to embark on a legal career as a paralegal. They may also progress to the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) to qualify as a solicitor.

Level 7 Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL)

Non-law graduates and career changers may pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) as a conversion course to a qualifying law degree. It enables students to develop a fundamental understanding of legal principles and professional capabilities from the outset in 1 year of full-time study or equivalent. After that, candidates with transferable knowledge and skills from other academic disciplines may enhance their employability to be a paralegal. Similarly, the degree prepares for the SQE to solicitor qualification.

National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP)

The National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) offers various paralegal qualifications which are accredited and regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). Individuals fulfiling NALP’s membership requirements may register and practice as licensed paralegals to their own clients.

Level 3 Qualifications in Paralegal Practice

Level 3 Qualifications in Paralegal Practice are the entry-level for aspiring paralegals to first step into a legal career. Learners may spend 3-4 months and £450 for a Level 3 Award; 6-8 months and £770 for a Level 3 Certificate; or 9-12 months and £1190 for a Level 3 Diploma. “Introduction to Law” and “Legal Ethics & Responsibilities” are compulsory units for all three qualifications.

Students may choose 1, 2, or 4 of the following optional units, depending on the qualification:

● Wills & Succession

● Civil Litigation

● Criminal Litigation

● Commercial Law

● Conveyancing

● Employment Practice

● Consumer Rights & Remedies

Level 4 Diploma in Paralegal Studies

Level 4 Diploma in Paralegal Studies is ideal for individuals with prior legal work experience or qualifications to further their career as a paralegal. It covers both General Principles of Law and Procedural Law parts. Each part costs £750, or £1380 for the 12-14 months full diploma.

Students are expected to study 10 compulsory units as listed below:

Part 1 - General Principles of Law

● The English Legal System

● The Law of Contract

● The Law of Tort

● Criminal Law

● Wills, Intestacy & Family Provision

Part 2 - Procedural Law

● Civil Litigation

● Criminal Practice

● Matrimonial & Civil Partnership Disputes

● Conveyancing

● Succession

Level 7 Diploma in Paralegal Practice

Level 7 Diploma in Paralegal Practice is designed for law graduates and non-law graduates with the PGDL to learn the procedural knowledge and practical skills required for paralegals to work effectively. It takes 6-8 months and £1660 to complete the qualification that is recognised nationally and internationally.

The 6 compulsory units comprising the diploma are:

● Civil Litigation

● Criminal Practice

● Conveyancing

● Corporate & Business Structures

● Matrimonial & Civil Partnership Disputes

● Succession

Institute of Paralegals (IoP)

Institute of Paralegals (IoP) approves several specialist providers such as Central Law Training and Academy of Tertiary Studies (ATS) to provide a range of legal training courses to paralegal qualification. The specialist nature allows individuals to take courses with competency standards and directions to the specialist roles of their career ambitions. Moreover, they may become an IoP member as an international recognition of the paralegal profession.

Based on years of experience and skills, IoP recognises career stages in 6 membership grades:

● Student

● Affiliate

● Associate Paralegal (A.Inst.Pa)

● Qualified Paralegal (Q.Inst.Pa)

● Graduate Paralegal (Grad.Inst.)

● Fellow of the IoP (F.Inst.Pa)


For exciting paralegal roles then check out the Legists Law Jobs page!

By Yvette Ng



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