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What is a paralegal?

A paralegal is a professional in the legal trade who isn’t qualified as a lawyer. The clue is in the name ‘paralegal’ – meaning alongside or resembling, ‘para’ demonstrates how closely this role operates alongside a firm’s lawyers. Paralegals provide legal knowledge, administrative support and perform case-building functions within various legal departments across the entire profession. Lots of budding lawyers and recently qualified graduates think about becoming a paralegal as a step towards a career as a lawyer or solicitor. Paralegal jobs and paralegal training are ideal stepping stones for legal professionals, providing invaluable real case experience and best practice legal knowledge. 

Paralegal roles can sometimes be listed under different titles – some similar job titles include legal caseworker, legal assistant, legal executive and law clerk. 

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Paralegal jobs at Poole Alcock

At Poole Alcock, the only requirement for a paralegal entry-level job is the right attitude. Most of our candidates have little or no practical legal experience and are still developing their skill sets. When it comes to paralegal vacancies, we look for hard workers with a willingness to learn and get better. 

Across our offices, there are countless examples of successful ‘paralegal to solicitor’ journeys. In fact, many current and former partners at Poole Alcock started with paralegal work experience, before graduating to trainee solicitor (and then on to solicitor and partner roles). 

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Why work for Poole Alcock?

As a leading law firm, we think we offer fantastic opportunities across a wide variety of cases, the chance to work alongside and learn from the best in the business, and a supportive, exciting environment. We think the fact that many of our partners began in paralegal positions shows how much career development is possible with Poole Alcock. 

However, you don’t have to take our word for it…

Erin recently began a training contract with Poole Alcock, following a successful period working with our Conveyancing department as a paralegal. Here’s what she had to say about working with the team and her journey from paralegal to trainee lawyer…

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Erin's Journey at Poole Alcock

“My journey with Poole Alcock began in September of 2020. I was fortunate enough to be offered a position as a paralegal within the Conveyancing department after an unsuccessful training contract application. This opportunity allowed me to gain practical legal experience as this was the shortfall in my initial application. As a law student, gaining practical legal experience – whether this being paid work or voluntary work – is often one of the hardest challenges to overcome. Applications for legal positions are often overlooked if the candidate has no practical legal experience, but instead of seeing this as a weakness, Poole Alcock saw this as an opportunity for my own personal development and growth.

During my 10 months as a paralegal I have experienced first-hand what the firm has to offer, to both clients and employees. There are two key characteristics at Poole Alcock that have stood out to me and further incentivised my wish to undertake a trainee solicitor role with the firm. Firstly, the positive and inspiring culture throughout the firm, and secondly the personal development and growth opportunities. The firm is filled with positive and friendly employees; I have experienced high levels of training despite much of it being delivered in a remote setting, and extensive support and guidance from both peers and management. The firm has extensive career development opportunities, and is driven to maximise each employee’s potential. This is achieved through providing employees with comprehensive tailored training plans that are reviewed regularly. 

Almost a year after my first interview with the firm, equipped with a whole new range of skills gained through my role as a paralegal, I applied again for a training contract. After a rigorous interview process, I was offered a training contract with the firm that began in August of 2021. I am extremely excited to begin the next stage of my legal career with Poole Alcock, and feel confident in the support and training I will receive during the next two years on my path to becoming a qualified solicitor. I would encourage any aspiring solicitor to consider applying for a paralegal job within the firm.”

Law students can apply to be a paralegal to gain invaluable experience in practicing, working on cases and court procedures. Because paralegals are supervised by a qualified lawyer or similar, there’s typically no limit to the cases or tasks they can work on, making it an ideal opportunity for a prospective lawyer. 

Erin

What does a paralegal do?

So, what exactly is the paralegal job description? One of the best things about a paralegal career is how varied it is – you really can be working on a different thing every day. Some of the potential paralegal responsibilities could include:

  • Taking witness statements for cases
  • Interviewing clients
  • Mediation and advocacy work
  • Ordering searches and surveys for conveyancing enquiries
  • Reporting on results and trends
  • Putting together contract packs for clients
  • Attending court with counsel and arranging meetings
  • Compiling court documents and case files
  • Undertaking research for the firm and clients
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In effect, a paralegal works alongside lawyers and their teams to help build and work on cases. Paralegals may have a particular area of specialisation or may work across all departments of a particular law firm or business. Some possible areas of legal specialisation include:

Interested in a career in law?  Head to our legal careers page to learn more about current opportunities.

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