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Law firms ‘to increase number of paralegals by 18 per cent’

Personal injury litigation employs the most paralegals, followed by residential and commercial conveyancing

26 June 2012

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Law firms will increase the number of paralegals they employ by 18 per cent over the next five years, a survey by Skills for Justice has suggested. Personal injury litigation employed the most paralegals, followed by residential and then commercial conveyancing, researchers for the not-for-profit organisation found.

The 49 firms that took part in the survey, including some of the top 10 but also small firms and three public sector organisations, said they employed 2,143 paralegals, a figure they expected to rise to 2,522.

Researchers discounted a response from the CPS “on the basis that their figures for ‘paralegals’ were so high that they skewed the results”.

The survey estimated that the average number of paralegals used by legal employers in the survey would rise from 42 to 49 per firm.

Almost half the respondents said they employed paralegals in personal injury, 48 per cent, followed by 43 per cent in residential conveyancing, 37 per cent in commercial conveyancing and the same amount in debt recovery.

When asked to predict where they would employ paralegals in two years’ time, the results were similar but the numbers who said they would take on staff to work on wills, trusts and probate rose from 28 per cent to 37 per cent.

Firms said they employed 40 national funded apprentices, more than half of them in business administration and only three as paralegals.

However, they said this would rise to 144 as paralegals in two years’ time, compared to 45 in business administration.

Alan Woods, chief executive of Skills for Justice, said he looked forward to working in partnership with employers “to create recognised paralegal apprenticeships and increase opportunities for young people to develop careers in law”.

A spokesman added that Skills for Justice has recently secured £1m from the government to develop a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services for school leavers, in partnership with CILEx, Pearson and Damar Training.

Solicitors Journal uncovered widespread anecdotal evidence of increased use of paralegals in 'Rise of the new lawyers'.

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