Accredited Paralegals are expected to work to a high level of competency which include knowledge, skills and values
(a) Under knowledge, you need to demonstrate understanding, familiarity and awareness as required in the particular practice area(s) that you are seeking accreditation
(b) The skills you require include technical, organisational, communication, inter-personal and practice
(c) By values we mean - legal and ethical values, attitudes and having a professional client focus.
As an Accredited Paralegal, you should be able to:
(a) apply your knowledge and understanding of the law and procedure to a particular matter effectively, and carry out procedures appropriately and efficiently so as to meet (i) the needs of the supervising solicitor and ultimately (ii) the client’s needs, objectives and priorities, based on a clear understanding of the client’s instructions
(b) assess any instruction (whether from the supervising solicitor or directly from the client) and determine that you have the appropriate levels of knowledge and experience to carry out the work.
As an Accredited Paralegal, you should be able to demonstrate:
- the ability to produce accurate work
- an understanding of the importance, consequences and risks arising from carelessness.
- the knowledge of where to look for and find accurate information required to carry out your work.
- the ability to use key primary sources (eg Acts, Regulations etc) and secondary (eg key text and reference books) from written and online resources.
- the ability to evaluate the reliability or suitability of sources
(c) Office systems and procedures
- familiarity with office business systems and resources, whether paper-based or online, including employing your organisation’s forms and precedents.
- compliance with office procedures and standards
- an understanding of how technology can support client service. This may include client reporting systems, file and data management systems and use of knowledge management systems.
(d) Personal management
- an awareness of time-limits and the risks of breaching them
- the ability to exercise effective judgement in respect of realistic timescales for completion of tasks and delivery of objectives.
- the ability to manage and prioritise your personal workload
- the awareness to only accept work which you feel competent to undertake
- a clear understanding of the work and responsibilities delegated to you by the supervising solicitor and understanding the limits in relation to that role.
- recognise the requirement to keep your supervising solicitor fully informed on a regular basis, the supervising solicitor having a responsibility to supervise matters.
- recognise that it is paramount to raise concerns/issues relating to completion of tasks and meeting of deadlines with your supervising solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
- an awareness of when it is necessary to seek support and/or advice from your supervising solicitor, and when it is necessary or required to refer an issue in its entirety to the supervising solicitor.
- an awareness of where a transaction is non-standard or includes non-standard elements and refer this to your supervising solicitor.
- the ability to undertake communications/action arising from telephone calls, meetings or interviews promptly.
- the ability to ensure that those to whom work is delegated are properly trained and supervised.
(e) File management
- a clear understanding of good file management practices, including:
- filing documents and correspondence as appropriate
- keeping filing up to date
- taking and filing accurate notes of telephone calls and meetings
- maintaining and managing appropriate diaries
(f) General communication
- the ability to communicate effectively with those you work with, including your supervising solicitor, clients, other professionals, relevant bodies and authorities as appropriate, including:
- identifying different communication options and selecting the communication form which is appropriate to the particular situation and/or client.
- producing communications which meet client or supervising solicitor instructions, and which are fit for purpose.
- the ability to communicate fee arrangements to clients promptly and transparently and informing them in writing when it becomes known that the cost of work will be significantly more than was estimated.
(g) Written communication
- the ability to communicate effectively in writing:
- demonstrating attention to detail
- using plain and understandable language appropriate to the recipient
- the ability to use electronic communications including email:
- understanding the difference between letters and e-mails and when each are appropriate.
- properly managing e-communications to avoid risk, including archiving e-mails safely and accurately.
(h) Meeting with clients and others
- the ability to conduct a client-centred interview effectively, including:
- preparing for the interview
- listening and eliciting required legal, personal and factual information, and full instructions from client and recording appropriately.
- the ability to draft documents which:
- are valid in terms of content and form
- use correct legal terminology
- address relevant legal and factual issues accurately
- ensure documents are validly executed and registered in relevant registers, where necessary.
- the ability to use precedent documents and styles by:
- identifying the appropriate precedent document or style required
- adapting the precedent document or style to the particular context
- understanding when non-standard variations may be needed and referring to supervising solicitor.
- the ability to complete prescribed forms accurately
(j) Negotiation (if required for the specific practice area)
- the ability to take part in a negotiation effectively, including:
- preparing appropriately for the negotiation
- negotiating within the agreed instruction and remit
(k) Effective speaking skills (if required for the specific practice area)
- the ability to advocate a case on behalf of a client effectively in accordance with relevant rules and procedure, either where an Accredited Paralegal has jurisdiction and authority to appear, or when preparing on behalf of your supervising solicitor who will appear. This includes:
- preparing appropriately for the submission
- using legal authorities, relevant facts and documentation in preparation for, and during, a submission.
- using effective speaking skills
- demonstrating an understanding of the relevant rules, ethics and conventions governing advocacy.
Values and attitudes
As an Accredited Paralegal you should:
(a) Legal and ethical values
- recognise the importance of and ensure compliance with all current anti-money laundering procedures.
- recognise the importance of and ensure compliance with all current GDPR procedures.
- be aware of current and future potential for conflicts of interest in all work and notify supervising solicitor.
- understand and comply with the Standards of Conduct for Accredited Paralegals.
- understand the ethical requirements upon yourself and the supervising solicitor, which must be applied to all work carried out.
- understand fully the role of your supervising solicitor and be aware that responsibility for any legal work undertaken by you, ultimately rests with the supervising solicitor
- treat clients, colleagues, other members of the legal profession and the public with politeness and respect recognising diversity, different cultures and values
- be aware of the importance of your continuing professional and personal development, including:
- being aware of the importance to self-assess, reflect and develop personally and professionally.
- assessing/identifying where development is required
- evaluating strengths and weaknesses of own skills and knowledge, and working with your supervising solicitor to set learning targets.
- be able to work in the best interests of the client and manage the client service well, including:
- being aware of the differences in acting for different types of client.
- keeping your client informed of progress on a regular basis, agreeing with the client the frequency of that communication.
- being able to speak with your supervising solicitor about any concerns you may have regarding a client, either a possible complaint or conflict or any other matter.
- being able to raise with your supervising solicitor any client complaint immediately that it arises.
- regularly updating your supervising solicitor on work being done for clients
- if a client instructs you to act in any matter which you may feel is fraudulent or contains any element of fraud or illegality, then you must refer this to your supervising solicitor immediately.
- manage client expectations by:
- ensuring terms of engagement letters are issued accurately reflecting the scope of work and recognising when the this may require to be updated being able to advise your client on the legal consequences of their instructions or actions.
- being able to advise your client on realistic time scales on instructions and completion of a matter.
- being able to advise your client on potential outcomes of a matter.