As many of you know, the route to qualification for a solicitor in the UK has changed. One of the key changes is being able to qualify through what is called ‘qualifying work experience’ (QWE) which is not limited to two years at one firm as a traditional training contract offers. Instead, under the SQE, you may undertake at least two years full-time work experience at a range of firms/institutions. For this, paralegal work is ideal.

What is QWE?

To count as QWE, the Solicitors Regulation Authority states that work experience must be “any experience of providing legal services that offers a candidate the opportunity to develop some or all of the competencies needed to practise as a solicitor.” Essentially, a candidate must be exposed to an environment where they undertake actual legal services work. Here’s why a paralegal role is perfect.

Benefits of paralegal work

Paralegals undertake both a range of administrative and legal work including legal research, negotiations, project management, document management, drafting, and client care/progression. Paralegals often do a lot of the work that is required of a trainee solicitor/qualified lawyer, therefore paralegal work is a great option for those qualifying through the SQE. You will gain first-hand experience of the law in practise with exposure to client contact, contracts and their management, and in doing so gain key skills such as project management, which will provide useful upon qualification.

Another bonus of undertaking paralegal work is increasing commercial awareness. Paralegals work on matters involving, mergers & acquisitions, estates, bankruptcies, investigations, etc which are things that have more than merely a legal element to it. As such, candidates will gain knowledge on how such matters work in practise and what this means for their clients as well as other stakeholders.

Undertaking paralegal work will be useful for candidates when completing the SQE2, which is the second mandatory assessment required under the new route to qualification. Whilst the SQE1 is focused on practical legal knowledge, the SQE2 focuses on practical legal skills and knowledge. The knowledge and skills gained from paralegal work will assist candidates with the SQE2 and it is advised that you begin your QWE before you begin the SQE2 assessment. 

All in all, the practical legal skills that paralegal work will provide you with will be instrumental when undertaking the SQE assessments, particularly the SQE2 which is based on practical legal skills and knowledge.