Recently, we talked to Sandra Reid, President of the Scottish Paralegal Association, about how the SPA benefits Paralegals.
If you are a Paralegal or thinking of becoming one, then the below will provide guidance and tips from the SPA.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and your affiliation with the SPA?
I am a Senior Paralegal within Lindsays Solicitors in Glasgow and I’ve been with the firm for over 6 years. I work in the Commercial Property department and deal with purchases and sales of both Residential and Commercial Properties and land. My first job was with the local authority, which is very different from private practice!
Can you tell us about the SPA and its affiliation with the Scottish Law Society?
The Scottish Paralegal Association (SPA) was formed in 1993 and is a voluntary, not for profit organisation that was set up to promote the development of Paralegals in Scotland. The Association has members from across the whole of Scotland covering most practice areas. The SPA was keen to create a career path for Paralegals and was involved in the creation of the Law Society of Scotland Accredited Paralegal Qualification alongside the SQA, colleges and many others.
What support does the SPA provide Paralegals and their firms?
The SPA supports its members by offering networking opportunities such as free short CPD sessions held throughout the year at different locations and also by our Annual and Autumn conferences held in Glasgow and Dundee annually.
How have firms embraced the affiliation and what has the feedback been?
The vast majority of the firms that I have come across in my career embrace the work that the Association does and more and more employers are now looking for a Paralegal who has a formal qualification. Historically Paralegals were experienced secretaries who picked up skills and chose to further their careers, but now there is a defined career path available which is fantastic.
Would you recommend a Paralegal begin the accreditation process and why?
I would encourage all Paralegals to join the Accredited Status which is managed by The Law Society of Scotland. Being accredited means that you have been given recognition for having expertise in your chosen area of law and having the confidence to meet the standards for accreditation. As I mentioned earlier, most employers are now looking for a Paralegal who has a formal qualification as it tells them that you are capable of working to a very high standard and that you can comply with the standards of conduct which are based on those expected of Solicitors.
How do you see the future of Paralegals within the Scottish Legal Market?
The Paralegal profession is here to stay. The SPA doesn't have any say in how the qualification process will change if at all but as the law and rules/regulations change, qualifications have to be updated to ensure that they are fit for purpose. Paralegals are now popping up in most areas of law and I am sure that the Law Society of Scotland are always looking at what new accreditations can be offered.
Do you have any advice for Paralegals within the industry?
A Paralegal career is a great choice. Make sure that you know what practice area you want to work in and learn as much as you can. Join the SPA and the Accredited Status and network with your fellow Paralegals.
Browse our Paralegal vacancies here.
For a confidential chat about the opportunities we are working on, please get in touch with me on:
Check out the SPA here.