Is your legal career going as well as you’d like? If not, the New Year may be the perfect time to join a recruitment service and get your career moving forward.
1. New Year is a great time to assess your career and look at things you want to change. If your legal career isn’t going well, maybe this is the ideal juncture to shake things up.
2. If your career hasn’t been going well, but you’re struggling to find the right next step, legal recruitment agencies have plenty of jobs to look through.
3. Legal recruitment agencies are often the quickest route into a new job, as they will have positions waiting to be filled.
4. If you don’t feel your current employer is rewarding the hard work and effort you’ve been putting in, then it may be time to go somewhere that will appreciate you more.
5. If you want to see your salary increase, but don’t feel like that will happen at your current company, moving to a new place is often the best way.
6. If you have been made redundant and want to get back into the industry as soon as possible, joining a recruitment agency may be the best option.
7. If you work for a small business and feel your career opportunities will be limited as you progress, legal recruitment agencies can help get your CV in front of bigger employers.
What Paralegals Do: While they may not be fully qualified solicitors, people in Paralegal jobs often are far more involved in the day to day details of legal cases. Their responsibilities can include preparing legal documents for solicitors and clients. Much of a Paralegal’s time will be spent carrying out research on cases which often includes interviewing clients and witnesses, as well as looking into similar legal cases.
Paralegals also spend a significant proportion of their time monitoring and attending court. As a right hand person to a solicitor they have the responsibility of helping them with the case and dealing with clients queries. The help and advice for clients can take place both in and outside court.
On top of these glamorous aspects of the job, Paralegals are often expected to carry out a wide range of and administrative and clerical responsibilities. Those who have the skills to combine the legal aspects of the job with a strong understanding of administration do really well as Paralegals.
What Skills Do Paralegals Need: Excellent written and spoken communication is vital if you want a Paralegal job. Like many other roles the ability to easily and clearly get your message a across over the phone, in person and via email is at a premium. Similarly the ability to deal with clients and colleagues patiently and with tact is valued highly.
As anyone who has dealt with legal cases will understand, anyone working in a legal job has to be able to take on board and understand complicated information. This is more difficult than it sounds though a systematic organized person should be okay.
Also the ability to work to tight deadlines and under pressure can often come in handy for any aspiring Paralegals.
What Qualifications Does a Paralegal Need: Anyone thinking of applying for a paralegal job will need some relevant law experience. Often Law Graduates apply for paralegal jobs after graduating from university. Similarly the job often appeals for those qualified with an HNC or HND in Law or Legal Studies. However a lack of an education in law needn’t prevent you from applying. If you have had some relevant law experience you maybe able to apply and study for a paralegal qualification from the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) Paralegal Programmes, or the National Association of Licensed Paralegals.
The job of a paralegal has great prospects and opportunities for a driven individual with a good understanding of the law with a disciplined attitude to organization. So if you fit the bill it’s work tracking a Paralegal job down.
Until now Fellows of the Institute of Legal Executives have had to put up with legal job titles such as ‘director’, ‘partner status’ and ‘partner equivalent’ but with the introduction of the new legal disciplinary practices set to come into effect on the 1st March 2009 (subject to government approval), Fellows of the Institute of Legal Executives will finally be able to become recognised as Partners.
This has come as a great relief to Fellows, as previously it was necessary to convert to a Solicitor before being permitted to become a Partner. There are some drawbacks though, it is up to Law Firms to opt to become LPDs (legal disciplinary practices) – but thankfully some of the top law firms are already favouring this new status so as a fee-earner’s competence, aptitude and client facing skills are paramount rather than some letters after their name. Another advantage is that the LPDs will also give Fellows more credibility, as having the title ‘partner’ on their business cards and being able to use the title when speaking to clients will create much less confusion, eliminating the embarrassment associated with having to explain their legal job title.
So what effect will this have on legal recruitment? If some law firms are opting to become an LDP and are offering partner prospects in their legal job opportunities, firms who do not offer this may see themselves losing legal executives to the firms that do. The LDP status could also serve as a great method of retaining and rewarding legal staff. As with Solicitors, Fellows who show a very high level of technical skill, bill at consistently high levels and also possess a certain je ne sais quoi could be perfect candidates. Law firms who opt for LPD status must also remember to mention the possibility of partner prospects within the firm at interview stage during the legal recruitment process as it would provide a great incentive for talented legal staff.
Certainly from a legal recruitment agency’s perspective, there has been an influx of job openings for Legal Executives – mainly from law firms wanting to cut costs in sight of the credit crunch. However, with the new LDP status set to come into place in March 2009, it will be extremely interesting to see what happens to the number of openings for legal jobs for FILEXs.
To help you understand the job carried out by legal executives we have identified the qualifications needed to become a legal executive and what their job involves on a day to day basis.
Specialise One Area – Legal executives are the specialists of the law world. They specialise in one particular area that suits both the skills and what they find most enjoyable. These different areas can vary hugely though by working in these specific niches they are able to gain a huge reservoir of knowledge and experience which makes they time valuable to clients.
Have the ILEX Qualification – Like many jobs there is a professional body which has a qualification which entitles them to use a certain titles. The institute of legal executives is one such organisation. They have a professional qualification which enables their members to be known as legal executives. They also offer further specialist training as well as the representation offered by most legal bodies.
5 Years Experience – Becoming a legal executive requires a minimum of 5 years legal experience. This normally served working under a qualified solicitor or senior legal executive.
Fee Earners – Many of the jobs within the legal sector are not known as ‘fee-earner’ positions. These such as legal secretary don’t work directly with clients. As a consequence those such as legal executives who are known as ‘fee-earners’ have a certain cachet.
Charged To Clients – because the legal executives are working directly for the clients they time is billed to the clients at an hourly rate. The more qualified and expert the legal executive the more their firm is able to charge for their time.
Types of Legal Executive.
Conveyancing – a conveyancer works on the legal aspects of the sale of property. Including the transference of the fees and other aspects sale of the properties. Technically a legal executive specialising in conveyancing is responsible for the transferring of the legal title of a property and making sure that nothing is wrong with the property to prevent a mortgage or later resale.
Family Law – another area where many legal executives choose to specialise is in family law. Dealing with domestic law requires a high level of professionalism and an in-depth knowledge of case laws and precedent. Experts are in high demand and the cost of their services can be quite lucrative for the legal firm.
Business – some legal executives purely work on business law and niches within the area. For example the setting up of companies or the dissolution of partnerships. Often the more specific the skills the greater their value.