Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Paralegal?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a paralegal as a person trained in subsidiary legal matters. Paralegals have become an established part of the Scottish legal framework and as a result of experience, training and formal qualification the “unqualified assistant” has undergone a metamorphosis resulting in the
creation of the modern day paralegal.
As a recognized fee earner, they assist and support solicitors and those within a legal environment. Working under supervision, but responsible for their own workload, many paralegals specialize in a specific area of law eg trusts and executry, debt recovery conveyancing, litigation or family law etc.
What is a Registered Paralegal?
The Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal Scheme provides a professional standard for paralegals in Scotland. Paralegals play an important role in the Scottish legal sector. The scheme recognizes, credits and defines that role. All paralegals who hold a relevant qualification are eligible to join the scheme. For more information see www.lawscot.org.uk/paralegals.
What does the Scottish Paralegal Association (SPA) do?
The Scottish Paralegal Association (SPA) was formed in 1993 to promote the interests of paralegals in Scotland. We are a voluntary not for profit association with an elected committee bound by a constitution.
The SPA is the only association recognised by the Law Society of Scotland as the body representing the interests and promoting the development of Paralegals in Scotland. The SPA holds amongst its membership paralegals who operate in a wide variety of roles within the legal profession assisting solicitors in many different areas of law. The SPA acts in the best interests of the members by promoting and representing their collective opinions and views. We have in place firmly established membership criteria, code of conduct and grading structure. The grading system operated by the SPA was developed through consultation with the Law Society of Scotland. All of which, when combined with a requirement of continued professional development (CPD), provides confidence in members of the SPA and their ability to deliver legal services in a competent and professional manner.
What benefits do I get from being a member of either the RP scheme or SPA?
Members have the benefit of a defined, recognized and meaningful professional status.
What qualifications do I need to become a Paralegal?
We strongly encourage all our members to seek qualifications suitable to their area of law. The SPA, however, are not a training or educational provider and do not endorse or sponsor any one training or educational provider. We do provide links to various courses and opportunities available on our website under training/CPD.
What do employers look for in a Paralegal?
Unfortunately each employers needs differ and therefore we are unable to offer any employment advice.
What salary should I expect to get as a Paralegal?
Salaries differ from firm to firm and therefore we are unable to advise on expected salaries.
How much CPD do I need to do each year for my membership of SPA/RP scheme?
You require to carry out a minimum of 10 hours verifiable CPD of which 5 hours can be private study. SPA’s Annual Conference generally provides 5 hours CPD.
What funding is available to assist me to train as a paralegal?
Funding may be available for certain courses from ILA, SQA and GBA.
Can paralegals sign passport application forms?
It is our understanding that paralegals who are members of a recognised association can sign passport applications (eg SPA members or RP members).
As a Paralegal, can I attend both Viper and Clipping ID Parades at Police Stations?
It is our understanding that unfortunately paralegals are not allowed to attend Viper and Clipping ID Parades at Police Stations unless with a Solicitor.
I have recently been cited to attend jury duty. As a Registered Paralegal with the Law Society of Scotland, should I be classed as “Persons Ineligible”?
Although the guidance does not say, Registered Paralegals would come under the part which says you are an apprentice of or a legal trainee employed by solicitors. You should always check with the Court though if you are cited for Jury duty as this may only be applicable to certain Courts.