The Scottish Paralegal Association

Blog

11 Jan
LSS Registered Paralegal Scheme Update

This is the third in a series of Information Updates about the Registered Paralegal Scheme. The Society’s website also covers Paralegal News.

Overview

The Registered Paralegal Scheme is launching in a staged manner:

  • Transition – Stage 1 (16th August 2010 to 15th November 2010.)
  • Transition – Stage 2 (16th November 2010 to 15th August 2011)
  • The Full Route (from 16th August 2011)

If you have any queries about the Transition – Stages please contact:registeredparalegals@lawscot.org.uk. The Society will do its best to answer your  queries about the Scheme but cannot guarantee to answer individual enquires relating to personal circumstances and individual applications, simply due to the large number of enquiries we are receiving. This is particularly true in respect of Stage 2 applications, the nature of which are often complex and will require a formal submission to the Society before any guidance can be issued.

News

Education and Training Roadshows (including Registered Paralegal Project)

Throughout January and February 2011, the Society is running a series of free roadshows. These roadshows will largely focus on the upcoming changes to the route to qualification for solicitors (including CPD) but will also include information on the Registered Paralegal project. More information can be found on the Society’s website here

The roadshows will take place on the following dates:

  • 20th January 2011 – Aberdeen. Park Inn. Registration 5pm (5.30pm – 7.30pm)
  • 27th January 2011 – Edinburgh. University of Edinburgh. Registration 5pm (5.30pm – 7.30pm)
  • 3rd February 2011 – Inverness. Drumrossie Hotel. Registration 5pm (5.30pm – 7.30pm)
  • 10th February 2011 – Glasgow. Thistle Glasgow. Registration 5pm (5.30pm – 7.30pm)
  • 17th February 2011 – Dundee. Apex Hotel. Registration 5pm (5.30pm – 7.30pm)
  • 22nd February 2011 – Dumfries. Easterbrook Hall. Registration 5pm (5.30pm – 7.30pm)

To book a place or find out more information, please visit the Society’s website or contact Update@lawscot.org.uk or 0131 476 8201.

Stage 2 – Launched on 16th November

Transition – Stage 2 launched on 16th November 2010 and runs until 15th August 2011. This is a ”window of opportunity’ for those paralegals who believe they already meet the standards associated with the Registered Paralegal scheme, but did not meet the criteria set for Stage 1 which was tied to a high grade of membership of the SPA, SSP, or SOLAS.

Transition – Stage 2 is not the same as Transition – Stage 1, which saw the expertise of members of paralegal associations recognised and those members ‘grandfathered’ into the Registered Paralegal Scheme. This stage is for those paralegals who believe that they already meet the criteria being set for Registered Paralegals to apply to the Standing Committee for a waiver of the requirement to undertake the ‘Full Route’, which involves training for a year as a Trainee Registered Paralegal.

Stage 2 applications will be split into two main categories:

  1. applicants who do hold a formally recognised and assessed qualification relevant to their area of practice
  2. applications who do not hold a formally recognised and assessed qualification relevant to their area of practice ( NB: this will be a more complex waiver application, because the holding of a qualification is an essential element of the RP scheme).

Applicants to Stage 2 are encouraged to read the Scheme of Operation, and also the series of guidance on Transition – Stage 2, which appears on the Registered Paralegal section of the Society’s website.

  1. In particular it should be noted, as was the case with Stage 1 applications, that should the applicant wish to register in a new Legal Domain, and not one of the Guide Areas which the Society has created at the point of launch, then the creation of that new Legal Domain must pre-date any individual Stage 2 application. No application can be considered until such time the relevant Legal Domain is in existence. There is guidance on this below, and also on the Society’s website.

Practical Note – the Society has limited the number of applications which can be considered by the Committee each month to 100 applicants, however all applications will of course be processed. Applications, as usual, should be made by emailing registeredparalegals@lawscot.org.uk, or in writing to:

Denise Robertson
Secretary to the Registered Paralegal Standing Committee
The Registrar’s Department
The Law Society of Scotland
26 Drumsheugh Gardens
Edinburgh   EH3 7YR

26 Mar
SQA Projects

Please note that Karen Leslie and Alison Butters will now be dealing with work relevant to the SQA.

Karen works in Aberdeen and came through the college route herself, so is very familiar with the courses offered. Alison works in Edinburgh and has a similar background. The SPA is delighted to have two experienced and “hands on” Committee Members to deal with this aspect of its development.

You should liaise directly with Karen and/or Alison to progress matters. They will, of course, report back to the Committee.

Karen Leslie can be contacted at karen.leslie@stronachs.com

Alison Butters can be contacted at alisonbutters.spa@live.co.uk

30 Nov
Retired Members

Good news for all those “retired” or “retiring” members – for a fee of £10 per annum you can retain your membership as a “Retired Member” and still reap the benefits of our Rewards Scheme. Contact Chrissie Holroyd at the Law Society of Scotland to register.

16 Oct
Case Search

Stephen Moore of Moore Legal Technology sent the following email which will no doubt be of interest to a large number of our members:-

“I am writing with regard to a new service which I have set up and which I believe your members may be interested in.

CaseCheck (HYPERLINK www.casecheck.co.uk offers registered users free access to a continually updated archive of Scottish Court and Employment Appeal Tribunal case summaries.Presently the archive contains summaries dating back to 2005.

The archive is split up into a number of clearly defined categories and each case summary links directly to the full, original judgement.The content of the site is user generated..

At this time registered users gain access to CaseCheck’s search facility and CaseCheck’s comments facility. In addition registered users are updated once weekly with an email bulletin containing details of recently added reports.

Some of your members already subscribe, but please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further information.”

Mr Moore’s email address is: – stephen.moore@moorelegaltechnology.co.uk

13 Aug
Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

MEETING BETWEEN SPA AND SCOTTISH LEGAL COMPLAINTS COMMISSION

Christine Lambie had a meeting with Richard Smith who is acting Chief Executive of the newly formed Scottish Legal Complaints Commission appointed by the Scottish Executive which will have Six Commissioners appointed by the end of this year and which will be taking over from the Law Society of Scotland the role of dealing with complaints by clients against their Solicitors. You may have been aware of the considerable press coverage on this topic.

Christine and Richard had a very helpful discussion on the current Paralegal situation in Scotland at this time and the fact that Paralegals have a very front line role in dealing with clients across a wide range of legal services in Firms of all sizes from the “Top Ten” to the “High Street” Sole Practitioners. This has increased the understanding of the SLCC of the Paralegal role.

 

UPDATE-The SPA is continuing to keep SLCC updated on what is happening regarding regulation of Paralegals in Scotland and they continue to offer support.

13 Aug
SPA Endorsement of SQA Qualifications

We are delighted to announce that following input from the SPA and the Law Society to the Scottish Qualifications Authority framework for the revised HNC/HND Legal Studies and the validation of these courses to be launched in Colleges throughout Scotland in August 2007, the SPA has agreed to endorse the revised courses as appropriate qualifications for those seeking to work in a Paralegal role. Students enrolling on these courses will also be encouraged to take out Student Membership of SPA to allow them access to the facilities and support offered to SPA Members.

This is part of our ongoing campaign to have SQA validated Paralegal training on offer at Colleges throughout Scotland, with the same course content and at a level of fees affordable by all. The course content has been reviewed to make it more relevant to the practical aspects of legal work undertaken by Paralegals although, needless to say, a period of traineeship will be required once employment commences.

SQA/SPA – PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AWARDS FOR PARALEGALS

Following the recent endorsement by the SPA and the Law Society of the HNC/HND Legal Studies qualifications, we are now working with the SQA to put in place PDA courses to allow those current working in a legal environment the opportunity to gain a Paralegal PDA in specific legal subjects which will be recognised as a Paralegal qualification endorsed by the SPA. A pilot scheme will be put in place at several Colleges for PDAs in conveyancing and one other paralegal subject (still to be decided) to test the waters and ensure that the idea is commercially viable. The fees will be at an affordable level. If this would be of interest to you please email christine.lambie@wgrant.com and advise which College and which course subject would be of interest to you in order that we can liase with the SQA to put this in place.

25 May
Membership Rewards Scheme – Stewart Travel

You will have noticed the recent addition to our MRS – Stewart Travel – it is perfect timing when looking to book a summer break so please contact them and they will be only too happy to help you get the holiday of your dreams!

If you have a local Company who would be interested in participating in the Scheme, please send contact details to any Committee Member and we will follow this up. The only criteria is they must be willing to offer a discount on their services on production of an SPA Membership Card.

We are keen to get Companies involved in all areas of expertise – from Plumbers to Hairdressers!

12 Jan
Reduced Membership Fees

The Committee has agreed to reduce Annual Membership Fees for existing Members who retire or have been made redundant and for Members on maternity leave to £10 a year pro rata.

When applying to renew Membership please send a covering letter requesting the discounted rate and giving the reason.

Many Thanks.

The Committee.

21 Sep
ARTL

NEWS UPDATE – ARTL

We have had discussions with the Law Society on the procedures to be followed when this is rolled out shortly and the effect it will have on Paralegals working in the conveyancing field.

It is our understanding that each Firm will have a designated Partner who will bear sole responsibility for the smart cards being issued in that Firm. There will be different levels of responsibility authorised for each card and not everyone will be given full access to the systems. Paralegals should discuss the level they will be authorised to work at with their Partner.

We understand that Missives and Letters of Obligation will continue to be dealt with in the “old fashioned” way of being signed in ink and not electronically.

It is very important to note that Paralegals should not accept a smart card bearing another person’s signature to complete a transaction. Should your boss be unavailable for any reason and give you his card to complete a transaction you should refuse as this is considered a fraudulent action and would leave everyone concerned open to criminal charges.

The Law Society will be issuing Guidance Notes prior to ARTL becoming live and all Paralegals should ensure they are copied in on them for their own information.

Should you have any issues arising from the implementation of ARTL systems in your Firm please don’t hesitate to contact us.