New register means paralegals will be regulated for the first time as of today

Paralegals are to be regulated for the time from today, in a bid to improve consumer and employer confidence.

Regulation is through the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR). Although it is voluntary, the organisers – the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) and the Institute of Paralegals (IOP) – hope that the decision not to sign the register will mark a paralegal out as poor quality, thereby convincing the vast majority to register and prove their credentials.

Although NALP and the IOP estimate there to be around 200,000 paralegals nationwide, there is no set standard or definition to the role. Some paralegals are highly experienced specialists within one practice area while others are engaged in high volume, low value work.

In order for paralegals to qualify for registration, they must hold existing membership of an industry body, such as NALP, IOP or the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Once signed to the register, paralegals can be sanctioned or penalised for poor quality services while consumers could be compensated.

Paralegal numbers have boomed in recent years, and are increasingly well-qualified, with many having completed the LPC or the BPTC. However, the huge number of people willing to work as paralegals is pushing salaries down, with some roles in London advertised for as little as £10,000 a year.

Aspiring Solicitors founder and PPR advisory board chairman Chris White said: “The PPR will not only seek to protect consumers, but importantly it will reward and recognise the efforts of all paralegals as they gain greater experience and knowledge in their respective fields.”

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