The Scottish Paralegal Association

Blog

11 Feb
Paralegals Team Building at Work

Initial success of Registered Paralegal Scheme suggests the right formula

Click here to see full article

11 Feb
Registered Status for Commercial Law Practice Paralegal

Jane Cowe, a senior paralegal at the Commercial Law Practice, has become one of the first registered paralegals in Scotland.

To become registered with the Law Society of Scotland, paralegals must have a recognised and relevant academic qualification and practical experience in their legal area.

The Registered Paralegal scheme, which was launched in partnership with the Scottish Paralegal Association (SPA) last autumn, sets new, high standards which credit qualified and experienced paralegals and support employers of paralegals.

Any paralegal hoping to become a Registered Paralegal must meet the required entry standards and follow a code of conduct, continuing professional development, rules and complaints regime.

Ms Cowe has also passed a specialist paralegal course run by Strathclyde University in commercial conveyancing.

She works in the firm’s commercial property department and her remit includes construction, commercial conveyancing and commercial leasin g matters.

Mike Anderson, HR partner at the firm, said: “Jane’s achievements demonstrate the Commercial Law Practice’s commitments to the highest standards of training and staff development.

“We continue to invest in our staff in order that we can provide the best service to our clients.”

Law Society of Scotland has revealed that, so far, more than 100 paralegals have signed up to the Registered Paralegal scheme.

01 Feb
Newsletter February 2011

Dear Members,

We hope this Newsletter finds you rested after the Festive Holiday and you are refreshed and looking forward to Spring although as this is still  February we hope we are not tempting fate!

We would like to extend a warm welcome to all the new comers who have chosen membership with the Scottish Paralegal Association following a successful application to the Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal scheme.  The Association, with the continuing assistance of its members across Scotland, has lobbied for the recognition and promotion of the work paralegals undertake for some number of years.  We are delighted that the Association, working in partnership with the Law Society of Scotland, has been instrumental in the development of a voluntary registration scheme which seeks to set standards employers, paralegals, clients and the public alike can reply upon.  We are one of the few associations in the world to take this route of recognition on behalf of paralegals.

The Scottish Paralegal Association is voluntary with an elected committee.  The aims of our Association are to promote the role of paralegals, assist with advice, to promote standards and ethics for paralegals and provide a means of social contact.

Please take the time to visit our website where you will find news related items, member rewards, CPD opportunities, employment vacancies and much more.

Watch this space for news of the launch of our new look website!   What would you like to see on your website?  Contact a committee member now and let us know.

Dates for your Diary!

The Committee has changed the format of the AGM and Conference for 2011 and the events are now being held separately.

The AGM will be held on Saturday 9 April 2011 at the Stirling Highland Hotel, Stirling.  Times are to follow and will be confirmed on our website.  With the exciting development of the Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal scheme the Association’s Constitution must be reviewed.  An announcement of the areas under review will be made.  A copy of our Constitution can be downloaded from the website.

Our Annual Conference will again be held in the Radisson Hotel, Glasgow on Saturday 28 May 2011.  Confirmation of guest speakers is to follow and further details will be published on our website.  We are pleased to confirm that again the Conference is free and includes a lovely buffet lunch, a selection of exhibitors together with guest speakers addressing the hot topics of the moment.  Three hours CPD is applicable to all attendees.   This is a great opportunity to network and meet fellow paralegals.

Satellite Groups

We do appreciate the challenges in the geography of Scotland when it comes to staying in touch with our membership.  A great way of keeping up to date with legal developments, local and Scottish news, networking and to enjoy a little socialising too; is to get together with your fellow paralegals in your local area.  We really do want to reach you all whether that be Orkney or Dumfries and every where in between! Would you be interested in setting up a satellite group?  Would you be interested in coming along to one?  Please contact Karen, Alison or one of our committee; we would be delighted to consider any suggestions and it would be great to hear from you!

Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal Scheme Update

To date more than 100 paralegals have successfully completed their application and are now fully fledged Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegals licensed to use this descriptor after their name. Well done!

Stage 1 closed in November 2010 and Stage 2 runs until 15 August 2011. All successful applicants should now receive the Law Society Welcome Pack which includes the Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal Certificate and information on our Association.

In December we said farewell to Collette Paterson, Deputy Director of Education and Training at the Law Society.  Latterly, Collette was our main contact at the Law Society and she played an important role in the development of the policy surrounding the Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal scheme.  We wish Collette all the best for the future.

We are now pleased to introduce Denise Robertson, Manager of the Registrar’s Department. She will be the Association’s  first point of contact and will oversee the Registered Paralegal scheme.

Please note, your application to the scheme is NOT complete until you have paid the annual fee via Worldpay. If you are not sure what stage your application is at please contact either one of our committee or Denise Robertson, Manager Registrar’s Department on:- DeniseRobertson@lawscot.org.uk

The Standing Committee of the scheme has received a number of applications to register in areas of law out with the first 5 guide areas.  Guidance notes are now being issued to those who have applied to register in a new area of law. Where it is demonstrated there is market demand (one of the criteria set for recognition) work can commence on the creation of new guide areas.  You will be invited to produce a joint application which will set out the key areas of skill and knowledge typical to that area of law.

Do you know any paralegals who work in Commercial Law, Oil & Gas, Company Registrar/Secretarial?  If so, put them in touch with one of your committee and we will assist where possible in the creation of a new guide area.  Please remember Stage 2 applicants do not have to be a member of the SPA or any other association.  Spread the word!

Membership Fees

Membership of the Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal scheme includes free membership of our Association.  Please note, if you have not applied to the scheme youmust renew your membership with SPA now!

SPA Stage 1 applicants to the Registered Paralegal must be a fully paid member of the SPA to meet the criteria of the scheme. Please ensure that you have paid your SPA membership fees for the year 2008/2009. If you are not sure as to your membership or fee payment status please contact a committee member now.

Law Society Road Shows

The Law Society is holding a number of free road shows across the country.  In addition to new solicitor rules for CPD and changes to the traineeships, there will also be a talk and opportunity for questions on the Registered Paralegal scheme.  The SPA is of course supporting these events and where possible will be attending.  This is a great chance for you to meet one of your committee members and ask any questions you might have. Bring along your colleagues and employers.  The Roadshows are free and count towards CPD.  The dates are as follows and more information can be found at:-www.lawscot.co.uk/events

27th January 2001  – Edinburgh – Nicola Brown, Committee Member
3rd February 2011  – Inverness – Dawn Bellamy, Treasurer
10th February 2011 – Glasgow – Lorna McCafferty, Vice President
17th February 2011 – Dundee – Sandra Reid, Secretary
22nd February 2011  – Dumfries – Alison Butters, Joint President
3rd March 2011 – Aberdeen – Karen Leslie, Joint President

CPD

If you have successfully applied to the Registered Paralegal scheme, all CPD must be recorded on the Law Society Paralegal pages:- www.lawscot.co.uk/members/paralegals

The Registered Paralegal scheme requires 10 hours CPD to be undertaken every membership year.  Guidance will be provided on the Law Society Paralegal website pages soon.

If you are a member of the SPA only you must keep a written record of all CPD attained.  Should you require a new CPD card please contact:- DavidMacdougall@lawscot.org.uk

Scottish Law Awards

The SPA is again delighted to be sponsoring the Paralegal of the Year Award at the Scott & Co Scottish Law Awards on 17 March 2011 in Edinburgh.  Good luck to all candidates!

Education Providers

We continue to work closely with the Scottish Qualifications Authority in the creation of new and review of existing courses aimed at paralegals.  This is even more relevant now as when the full application route to the Registered Paralegal scheme commences in August 2011 all applicants must have a qualification relevant to the area of law they work in.

Other education providers continue to enter this growing market and links can be found on our website. You will find a selection of class based and distance learning options and hopefully something to suit all.   Please note we do not promote or advocate any one education provider.  We recommend all would be interested parties to contact the provider in question and discuss your needs to ensure that the course on offer meets your expectations.

Skills for Justice

Alison met with Lesley Duncan from Skills for Justice who are the Sector Skills Council and Standards Setting Body for the Justice and Community Safety sector. Across the UK, they help employers to identify their skills and workforce development needs, and provide high quality solutions.  They are currently looking at the paralegal market to ascertain what further training options are required.

Hays Legal Advisory Group

Alison was also recently invited to be one of the founder members of this group which has been set up to provide advice on the development of Hays Legal in Scotland and assist in the development of a Scottish Legal Market Report that will highlight sector trends, Industry advancement and salary guides.  The group members have been drawn from the legal community in Scotland and chosen for their knowledge, expertise and leadership within their respective fields. They are supported by non-legal sector members with wide-ranging experience of Scottish business and public policy.  We are delighted that we have been given the opportunity to contribute on behalf of paralegals.

Committee Vacancy

We still have a vacancy on our Committee. Travel expenses are reimbursed and a small fee is paid for attendance.  A free lunch is provided.  Meetings are generally held once monthly but less so over the summer months.  The meetings are held in Stirling but the location may vary.  This is a great opportunity for those who can spare a few hours and would like to get involved in the development and promotion of paralegals across Scotland.  It is an excellent opportunity to network and meet new and varied people.   If you would like more information please do not hesitate to contact any of the committee members.   We really are a friendly bunch!

Please do not hesitate to contact any of the committee regarding anything contained in the newsletter or if you have any CPD requirements or any other issue you might wish to discuss.  Please continue to check the website for all the news and events.

We want your news and your views, we are your association and your voice!

Karen and Alison
Joint Presidents

www.scottish-paralegal.org.uk

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.