Anyone offering legal services outside of solicitors firms in the unregulated market are paralegals.
The PPR for the first time has clearly categorised paralegals into four tiers, why?
There has been and still is a confusion over what a paralegal is and what they can do, and this is from within the sector! This means that it has been difficult for paralegals to get the recognition and status that they deserve as a profession in its own right.
The PPR is determined to change this for two reasons:

  • To clearly set paralegals as the fourth arm of the legal profession
  • To enable consumers to easily access paralegals in the knowledge that they are recognised as legal professionals

For employers using paralegals on an employed, self-employed or freelance basis, they will be regulated by the PPR if they are on this register.
NB It is important that paralegals who work in the regulated market are not regulated by this register.

Categories

For the purposes of voluntary regulation under the PPR, whether you are an Associate, Affiliate, Graduate or any other category with your membership body, under the PPR you will be recognised by your knowledge and experience as a ‘Tier’.

For end users whether they are companies, local authorities, consumers, solicitor’s or barristers, a simple Tier structure will make it easy for paralegals to be recognised.

If you are unsure which category you should apply for, you should talk to your recognised membership body.

There are currently four recognised membership bodies:

  • The National Association of Licensed Paralegals
  • The Institute of Paralegals
  • The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • The Association of Probate Researchers

You MUST be a member of a recognised membership body to enable you to gain entry onto the PPR.

A Tier 1 Paralegal

Typically you will be a trainee Paralegal who is studying to achieve a level 3 qualification (equivalent to A Level) and has no or very little work experience.
A Tier 1 may be engaged in legal secretarial work; legal administration or general legal office assistance.

A Tier 2 Paralegal

You will be a Paralegal who has either obtained a level 3 qualification and/or has a minimum of two years ‘qualifying’ experience.
A Paralegal in Tier 2 may have many years of experience in a particular area of practice.
Tier 2 Paralegals may also be law graduates that have no or very little relevant work experience. 
A Tier 2 Paralegal may be offering services to the general public (subject to obtaining a Paralegal Practising Certificate); assist in many legal matters; prepare cases and assist litigants in person amongst many other things.
Your area of knowledge, experience and expertise will determine the nature of the service or services that you may offer under a Paralegal Practising Certificate.

A Tier 3 Paralegal

You are a Paralegal that has gained a minimum of a Level 6 qualification (Degree Level) AND has a minimum of 2 years qualifying experience.
Typically a Tier 3 Paralegal is a graduate in law or has an equivalent qualification in the area of law in which they practice.
A Tier 3 will typically be fee earners as Paralegals and can carry out complex legal matters.
Your area of knowledge, experience and expertise will determine the nature of the service or services that you may offer under a Paralegal Practising Certificate.

A Tier 4 Paralegal

Typically a Tier 4 Paralegal will have a Level 6 or above qualification, a minimum of 4 years qualifying experience and have undertaken Paralegal Practice Skills.
Your area of knowledge, experience and expertise will determine the nature of the service or services that you may offer under a Paralegal Practising Certificate.

 

What is a Professional Paralegal Practitioner?

A Professional Paralegal Practitioner is a paralegal who is regulated by the PPR and holds a current Professional Paralegal Practising Certificate (PPC).

You must be at least a Tier 2 to apply for a PPC and hold the requisite minimum of £1 million PII.

The PPC may be a ‘Specified’ certificate that enables one area of law to be practised, OR a ‘Full’ Certificate for Tier 4’s if a range of areas of law/services are being offered.

A PPC is only required where legal services are being offered to the general public.

The PPR may impose conditions on PPC’s and can withdraw them if a serious breach of the Paralegal Practitioners Rules or the Code of Conduct occurs.