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Paralegals have always been regarded as the poor relations of the UK legal family. But thankfully the negative labels that have long been associated with paralegalling are gradually being peeled away.
Indeed, isn’t it about time that paralegals were seen as professionals in their own right and not simply as failed lawyers? That’s what the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) would like to see happen. As we reported earlier this week the IoP has launched the first-ever national training framework for paralegals in a bid to turn the “occupation into a profession” (read article).
As the IoP’s chief executive James O’Connell puts it: “The profession can’t continue to ignore the status, professionalism and career aspirations of almost half the fee-earners in the country.”
I first greeted the initiative with scepticism, thinking this was yet another way of exploiting students desperate to break into the legal profession by getting them to enrol on pointless courses.
But my recent conversation with James really got me thinking. Wasn’t I just as bad as the rest of them as I too thought of paralegals as LPC students who weren’t good enough to secure training contracts? My position was based on the assumption that all law students wanted to train as solicitors and barristers. I now realise, however, that this isn’t always the case as there are plenty of students who are happy to work as paralegals for the long-term. After all, not everyone wants to climb the greasy pole to law firm partnership.
LexisNexis has launched a new software to help law students to cite case law accurately. LexisCheck is essentially a “spell-check” for legal citations. The simple to use software scans through Word documents and automatically identifies citations and then displays, with a traffic light signal, whether the citation can be considered ‘reasonable’, to be used with ‘caution’ or ‘unreliable.’ Not only will it make your work more accurate it will save you lots of time too. I know that when I was a law student I would’ve loved to have something like this to help me.
To celebrate the launch LexisNexis are giving away the following prizes:
Top prize (1 person only) - One year’s free subscription to LexisCheck, one day’s ‘work experience’ with LexisNexis’s court reporting team in London (including £50 towards the cost of travel). This would involve a day in court listening to substantive judgments with a legal expert who can explain the ins and outs of the process. The winner will also receive a guided tour of the Royal Courts of Justice and lunch at Middle Temple Hall. And to take advantage of all the spare time that LexisCheck frees up we’ll also throw £20 of Odeon cinema vouchers.
Second prizes (3 in total) - One year’s free subscription to LexisCheck and £20 of Odeon cinema vouchers.
Third prizes (20 in total) - £10 Odeon cinema vouchers.
To enter the competition email the answer to the following question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org: What is the correct citation for the famous negligence case Donoghue v Stevenson?
A) Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562
B) Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562
C) Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562
Please include your full name, university and course and a mobile phone number for us to contact you. The deadline for entering is 31 October 2009. Good luck!