Conference Review

Thank you to everyone for their participation in the PPR Conference on 21st April.

The analysis of the conference feedback forms (75 returned from 150 participants) shows that the event was very well received as a valuable, stimulating and enjoyable day, particularly for making contact with other Paralegals, learning about the PPR position in the sector, and inspiring individuals’ commitment to joining the PPR.

From the PPR perspective, the event provided a great opportunity to further its aims of establishing itself as the voluntary regulator for Paralegals. Added to this, discussions during the day – particularly in the workshop sessions – have helped identify priority areas for focus such as providing clearer information on the Tiers and the advantages of applying for a PPC .

The majority of delegates who completed the conference feedback forms rated the conference as a whole as “exceeded expectation” or “exceptional”. The keynote speech from Steve Green and the opening address by Rita Leat  attracted comments such as “great keynote” and “excellent – really interesting and fascinating speaker”. There was much enthusiasm in the panel discussion which, in a way, reflected the enthusiastic way in which the delegates participated in this activity: ” The panel session was very good but too short!” The closing remarks were also well received “I feel that you are pioneers for the sector!”

The most common rating for the usefulness of the workshops was “exceeded expectation”. The presenters of the workshops were rated by the majority as “exceeded expectation” or “exceptional”. Ian Grant from Heselwood & Grant attracted comments such as “witty, informative and engaging presenter”, “a really great presenter”. Some delegates commented “that the Business workshop was a bit too generic but that the presenter was very good”. One delegate commented “I wanted to attend all of the workshops!”.

The choice of venue was also very popular with the delegates: the majority rated the convenience of the location, its comfort and facilities and the catering as “exceeded expectation or “exceptional”. One delegate tweeted “enjoying a great lunch at the PPR conference”.

Those who were involved in the conference organisation and administration were pleased that most delegates rated the arrangements as “exceeded expectation”, both prior to the conference and on the day itself. Particularly appreciated was the additional “social” information provided in advance of the conference which, it is believed, contributed to the friendly atmosphere of the event. Delegate’s comments included “A very well organised conference with a positive atmosphere. Thanks to all those who put effort into making this happen”.

Feedback from our virtual participants, of which there were at least 29 actively following the conference via #pprConf on Twitter  also showed enthusiasm for the proceedings of the day.

58 of the 75 delegates said that they would ‘absolutely’ or ‘very likely’ attend the next conference.

Conference thanks

Of course, an enormous amount of effort goes into planning a conference such as this, and we owe thanks to all involved. First we are very grateful to the conference sponsors.

A special vote thanks is also due to the speakers, chairs and the brave panel speakers for their contributions on the day, as well as the hard work devoted to preparing for their roles. We should also recognise that without the commitment of the PPR conference team we would not have enjoyed such a well organised day – as one delegate remarked –  “I have attended many conferences but I have never experienced such enthusiasm and engagement by the delegates”.

There are many individuals whose work behind the scenes deserves special recognition and are too many to name but two should be recognised. Our conference co-ordinator on the day Dorothy Campbell did a sterling job keeping everyone on track. Raffaele Corriero our digital expert managed all of the media screens, the presentations both in the plenary session and also assisted all of the workshop presenters.

Conference resources




LawWorks Pro Bono Awards

I was honoured and delighted to be invited to attend the LawWorks Pro Bono Awards ceremony in London this week, held at Linklaters.

LawWorks is a charity committed to enabling access to justice through free legal advice. They use their experience and expertise to help ensure that pro bono resources are targeted where they can be most effective and have the greatest impact.

The awards offered us a chance to celebrate the great work that is done on a pro bono basis by individuals and organisations throughout England and Wales.

The breadth of work undertaken is immense with legal advice and representation being offered from helping identifying and filing in forms all the way through to representation in court. It is clear that all legal practitioners can offer pro bono work in one form or another.

The awards host was Joshua Rozenberg who having been a lawyer himself guided the proceedings with clarity and wit.

With so many stories being highlighted for the great works being done, the winners were rightly congratulated and applauded by their peers. Not least, Emma Williams won the best contribution by a small firm for advising 70 clients on child contact matters in Wales.

The best in-house team award went to Hilton Worldwide who advise a number of small charities who cannot afford legal advice.

The most effective pro bono partnership is an interesting category and one that I intend to investigate further for the PPR. It would be good if a Paralegal team could partner with a Citizen’s Advice Bureau or University to offer Pro Bono advice clinics.

If you are interested in getting involved with Pro Bono work then please contact us.

That just leaves me on behalf of the PPR to congratulate lawyers everywhere who give up their time to offer help and support to those in need of legal assistance.

Rita Leat


New CEO for the Instructus Group

The Trustees wish to make the following announcements concerning the CEO of the Instructus Group:

David Holland, as CEO of the Instructus Group, is leaving the group on July 6th 2016 having been associated with the organisation in a variety of senior roles for 12 years.

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Andrew Hammond as the new CEO for the Instructus Group. He will start the new role on Monday July 25, 2016.

Read more

Paralegal Conference 2016

The Professional Paralegal Register warmly invites you to attend this inaugural Paralegal Conference, designed to benefit all Paralegals regardless of whether you are self-employed private practitioners; employed in company legal departments; local authorities; law practices; the courts or any other type of business. The conference will also benefit law students, legal secretaries and those seeking to find out about a new career in the law.

This 2016 event will cover a range of Paralegal topics that will allow you to receive the most current information within the Paralegal sector and to enable you to think more strategically about the future.
Paralegals are now the fourth arm of the legal profession and quite rightly take their place as professionals in their own right.

We are delighted to announce that our speakers include Steve Green, Chair Office for Legal Complaints; Derek Wood QC, Elisabeth Davies, Chair Legal Services Board Consumer Panel; Espe Fuentes, Head of Legal, Which?Legal; Chris White, Founder Aspiring Solicitors and more to be announced.

There are opportunities to obtain CPD through attending two workshops from a choice of sessions covering skills, business development, updates in law and practice; Paralegal Practising Certificates and PPR compliance.

Come and join the fastest growing arm of the legal profession and meet other Paralegals to network and share good practice.

The conference, including a sit down lunch is just £30.00 for PPR members and £50 for non-members.

Join us

Paralegals: The Fourth Arm of the Legal Profession

The title sounds like it could be a movie but fiction it isn’t.

The Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) offers regulation for Paralegals who work outside of the regulated sector. Paralegals make up the majority of legal service providers in England and Wales and yet because of the perceived lack of professionalism, which amounts to a lack of accountability through regulation, they have failed as a profession to propel themselves to the top, alongside the old boys clubs of the Bar, The Law Society and the newer kids on the block CILEX.

I have attended so many forums; strategy groups; lectures; conferences over the last fifteen years where the ‘issue’ of Paralegals has either been ignored or paid lip service to, that I think that those within the legal sector who profess to encourage diversity need to embrace the Paralegal Profession.

Plan to smooth paralegals’ path to CILEx qualification sparks “confusion” claim

A proposal by CILEx Regulation (CRL) to make it easier for paralegals to become qualified legal executives has been rejected as likely to cause “confusion to employers and consumers” by the new voluntary paralegals regulator.

In a speech to this week’s Westminster Legal Policy Forum, David Gilbertson, a board member of the legal executives’ regulator, said its next step would be a period of review following completion of its new schemes for CPD and competence assessment of CILEx independent practitioners.

It would include “looking at the possibility of creating streamlined pathways to enable paralegals to become both Chartered Legal Executives and CILEx Practitioners, without the need for unnecessary duplication of evidence where it is appropriate to do so”.

But Rita Leat, managing director of the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR), a voluntary regulation scheme for paralegals launched in July, said: “The [PPR] regulates all paralegals who work in the unregulated sector and already provide the necessary pathways for specialist paralegal practitioners to operate with paralegal practising certificates without the need to become something else [such as] legal executives…

“It would be less of a repetition of efforts if CILEx would engage more with the PPR to offer a greater diversity of opportunity in the sector and enable consumers to access a more cost-effective legal system. It appears to us to be a muddying of the waters that causes confusion to employers and consumers.”

A spokesman for CRL explained that the streamlining of rules for paralegals could include “aligning some of the evidence we require for a practice rights application with the work-based learning portfolio aspiring Chartered Legal Executives must provide. Paralegals seeking lawyer status either as Chartered Legal Executives, or with CILEx practice rights, would therefore not have to duplicate their evidence unnecessarily.”

He added: “Of course, application for practice rights specifically in conveyancing or probate is open to anyone… Our desire is to make our application processes more streamlined without diminishing the high standards we expect of applicants.”

CILEx last year announced an enquiry into paralegals, reflecting a push by the representative body to assert a leadership role in an area of the legal employment market widely expected to grow over the next decade. At the time, CILEx estimated it had about 12,500 paralegals in its membership, including students, affiliates, associates and graduates who were working in the legal aid field.

Separately, CRL this week launched an eight-week consultation on whether it should become a licensing authority for alternative business structures (ABS), claiming it “receives enquiries regularly from organisations seeking to be licensed by it as a licensed body” under the Legal Services Act 2007.

Currently only entities run by Chartered Legal Executives, CILEx Practitioners or other lawyers can be authorised by CRL, but not those with non-lawyer owners or managers.

The consultation said its current inability to licence ABSs “limits growth, consumer choice and innovative delivery of legal services”.

In particular, it said, “the demographic of the community regulated by [CRL] includes a high proportion of females, ethnic minorities and those from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, potentially increasing the market for consumers who may seek legal advice from those closer to their own demographic.”

The consultation closes on 29 January 2016.


Pro-Bono Awards

Last week I attended the inaugural annual lecture at the LawWorks Annual Pro Bono awards given by Shami Chakrabarti CBE, the Director of Liberty.

This was the first time I had attended an event where Shami was speaking and I sincerely hope it isn’t the last.

Liberty’s slogan is ‘Join Us. Be Heard’, a very simple but powerful message for us all. Liberty does not just focus on our human rights in times of adversity and in war zones, it empowers us to defend our human rights at school, at work, in courtrooms or wherever our human rights are not being observed.

Shami spoke about how it was an honour to celebrate the work done by pro bono lawyers ‘in the dwindling field of legal aid’. Reminiscing about the time when a citizen in the UK ‘could get the legal advice and representation they need rather than the legal advice and representation they could afford’.

The great Joshua Rozenberg interviewed Shami asking her opinion on the Investigatory Powers Bill and the need perhaps for the powers to gather intelligence to be put on a statutory footing. Shami’s response in short was that she agreed on the need for a new Bill but not one that allows for mass rather than targeted surveillance.

Whether you feel that the criminal law is there to deter criminal activity and to punish those who choose to break the law or consider that the criminal law is more about being a code that reflects societal values and should be used as ‘a last resort’, may depend upon whether you have been affected by the unlawful acts of others.

There is no doubt that with Shami at the helm, the vulnerable will be heard and those with power may well be made to feel uncomfortable about decisions they make that affect people’s lives.

I cannot help but make a small comparison in how the message behind the ‘join us be heard’ slogan resonates with how I feel about the Paralegal Profession. There are an estimated 200,000 Paralegals in the UK, rise up and be heard- you all make a real difference to the lives of those who cannot afford high legal costs.

We are in the process of looking at how members of the PPR can be involved more actively in the provision of pro bono work. If you are interested in taking part in a discussion about pro bono work then please get in touch as we are looking for ambassadors to help us take this forwards.


Rita Leat


Professional Paralegal Practising Certificates

The PPR Managing Director announced today that the first batch of Paralegal Practising Certificates will be sent out to successful applicants this week.

‘This is a proud day for all Paralegals who finally have the professional status that they deserve. Professionalism is gained through the acquisition of knowledge and skills via qualifications, training and experience, with adequate regulation to ensure professional and ethical standards are maintained.

Paralegal Practising Certificates enable suitably qualified and experienced Paralegals to offer legal services to the public whilst the PPR’s voluntary regulatory scheme provides protection to the consumer should things go wrong.’

If you are a Tier 2 or above registered Paralegal under the PPR then you can apply for a PPC and benefit from having the ability to practice direct to consumers.

If you would like to apply for a PPC, please visit the PPR website or telephone 0845 862 7000 for more details.