Trowers & Hamlins is to increase the number of trainees it takes on, and will ringfence some training contracts for members of its own paralegal pool.
The firm is to recruit for 23 trainees per year, rather than the 20 it currently takes on. It has also pledged that a minimum of two training contracts per year will be reserved for paralegals already working within the organisation.
Previously, any Trowers paralegal had to apply through the same system as external candidates to be considered. In future, if they meet certain criteria – passing their probation, having the support of their section head, and meeting the firm’s academic requirements – they will be shortlisted straight through to the later stages of the training contract process.
The firm has also implemented a wider paralegal career structure for those with other aspirations. It mirrors the structure of other fee-earners with different levels and comensurate salary bands taking into account their entry point: school leaver, A levels, university degree, LPC-qualified and beyond.
Trowers has deemed the move necessary due to the rapid growth in the number of paralegals working at the firm.
“We have gone from literally no paralegals to employing a significant number,” Trowers’ director of HR Paul Robinson told Lawyer 2B. “Five years we didn’t have any; we now have nearly 50 in the UK.”
“We obviously have those individuals who want training contracts, but if they have an LPC we can also work with them to help them qualify through the equivalent means route.
“For career paralegals – that is, those who don’t aspire to become a solicitor – the structure gives them a framework where they can see what career with us they can have. These are good people who are really contributing and it is important for them to be able to see where their career could go, and we’ll support them with their study through CILEx if they so desire.”
The rise of the paralegal has been a trend of the last few years. The first paralegal to qualify through ‘equivalent means’ was admitted as a solicitor in April, while a first paralegal register launched last month in a bid to improve consumer and employer confidence.
A 2013 study by the Solicitors Regulation Authority found that paralegals were just as competent as final-seat trainees.