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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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!
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.
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.