Just because you have a legal issue doesn’t mean you need a solicitor, it could be that you require a paralegal. But, what is the difference between a paralegal and a solicitor? And where can you use each?
A paralegal is legally trained and educated to conduct legal tasks and offer legal assistance but isn’t a qualified solicitor. But, a paralegal can do everything a solicitor can do except activities labelled “Reserved Activities” which we will talk about later.
There is also a lack of statutory regulations for paralegals compared to solicitors so it’s important to ask for evidence of a paralegal’s qualification and education and check if they are a member of a professional body such as the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP).
So what are some examples where you require the services of a paralegal?
- If someone says you owe them money and you need to defend yourself.
- When you take someone to court and need assistance regarding the process.
- When you have been arrested for a criminal offense and need representation. Many paralegals are also known as ‘Police Station Accredited’ which means they can be called out to assist you at the police station.
- When you require assistance in a Matrimonial matter.
- If you want to take action against your employer through a Tribunal.
- If you need assistance while writing a will or to obtain a Lasting Power of Attorney in regards to a relative.
- When you need assistance in housing matter
- When you need assistance in welfare matters
Solicitors Are Expensive
Utilizing the services of a solicitor can be expensive because on average they charge £200 per hour and some while senior solicitors will charge around £300 – £500 per hour. On the other hand, paralegals charge between £30 – £80 per hour for their services, depending on what is required.
Furthermore, access to Legal Aid is severely limited. Before 2013, you could acquire legal funding to bring a case to court or defend an action against you. This has been eliminated in all but a few cases. Paralegals are filling the gap left by the elimination of Legal Aid.
There is a point when a paralegal can assist you until you require a solicitor. For instance, if a case is serious and can’t be resolved and will end in court. But, for the most part, a paralegal is enough.
Where You Can Only Use A Solicitor
There are many good reasons to use a solicitor but they can’t help in every situation. There are activities a paralegal can’t conduct known as ‘Reserved Activities’.
- Solicitors have a higher right to represent you in most courts. But, paralegals can assist and advice if you need to represent yourself as a litigant in person (LIP) and in some cases they can also get permission to speak on your behalf
- Conduct litigation. Paralegals can’t conduct your case, file documents and make applications on your behalf. However, they can assist you to do this yourself as your LIP.
- Conveyancing. Such as buying and selling property on your behalf. Paralegals can’t take such a transaction on your behalf but they can advise you about the process.
- When someone dies. If they have left a will leaving gifts for beneficiaries, an official document known as a Grant of Probate needs to be attained to distribute the gifts in the Will. A paralegal can’t sign this document on your behalf but they can assist you in the signing of it.