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A spat has broken out between the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) and the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (Nalp) over who has launched the country’s first national training framework.
The Nalp has branded the IoP’s recent unveiling of its new Route to Qualification (RTQ) “a money spinning exercise”, claiming it was the first provider to set out a national framework more than two decades ago.
Nalp’s programme director John Stacey-Hibbert said: “We’re very concerned that the paralegal profession is being brought into disrepute by the IoP’s claims. The IoP says it’s set out professional standards for paralegals when it hasn’t - it’s operating off the back of everyone else.”
The IoP’s framework is made up of four stages. At the first stage students have to register with the IoP to become an affiliate member.
To progress to the next two stages candidates must prove that they have secured a job as a paralegal and have at least four years’ work experience.
At the fourth stage candidates have to gain a specialist paralegal qualification at Bristol Law School and upon qualification they will gain qualified paralegal status.
But the Nalp has said it already offers accredited courses and qualifications for paralegals and is the only licensed regulator in the field.
IoP chief executive James O’Connell, meanwhile, has refuted the Nalp’s suggestion that it is a “cowboy organisation”.
“It depresses us that we’re considered on the same level as the Nalp,” he said. “I don’t even want to go into a he said/she said - it’s so utterly pointless. All I’ll say is that we have a huge number of examples of where we’ve been accepted and acknowledged by the profession and government.”