Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
12:00 AM 6th July 2024

The Flexible Route To A Paralegal Career

Amanda Hamilton, Patron, National Association of Licensed Paralegals
Image by LEANDRO AGUILAR from Pixabay
Image by LEANDRO AGUILAR from Pixabay
Have you ever thought about a career as a paralegal but assumed that you can’t afford it both in time and money? The good news is, there are flexible ways to study and pay, which may be useful to know about and may make the decision to qualify as a paralegal easier and more attractive to you.

Let’s take a look at the options.

Study at your own pace

A great way to keep your life and work in balance is to choose a course that allows you to study at your own pace. You can easily do this by enrolling for an online distance learning course. For example, NPC (National Paralegal College) is an online college offering bespoke NALP Paralegal qualifications at affordable prices. You can choose which level of qualification and could be given up to two years to complete it (depending on which qualification you choose).

Qualifications range from single subject awards (one year to complete) to a full diploma at Level 3. This is the entry level so you can dip your toes in to see if the law is for you. There is also progression to the Level 4 Diploma if you wish to continue studying.

On all these courses there is full tutorial support to help you all the way. What more can you ask for?

Flexible payments

Many courses offer flexible payment terms for UK residents – just pay the deposit and then follow with interest free instalments. Overseas colleges offer different terms, so check first.

Where to start

Level 3 is a good place to start because if you have never studied law before, or haven’t studied since school, it’s an excellent way to find out if it’s for you. It’s then possible to build up your qualifications slowly, completing one single subject award and then another as it suits you. Depending on how you get on, you can escalate your studies, slowly at your own pace, to the next level as you want.

Image by Jörg Möller from Pixabay
Image by Jörg Möller from Pixabay

How long it will take is totally up to you. As mentioned, there is an overall period to complete the course, but most learners find that this is a more than adequate timeframe. For example, a Single Subject Level 3 Award can quite easily be completed within a few months if you have the time to study, although there is an overall timeframe of one year.

All other NALP Paralegal qualifications, which are recognised by Ofqual, have an overall timeframe of two years which means that there is plenty of time to drop in and out whether it be to start a family, or to get used to a new job, and still have time to come back to your studies when you are ready.

Remote, in-person, or blended

If distance learning is not for you, then there are both classroom-based delivery options and blended learning which provides flexibility to attend either classes in-person or study online, or a mixture of both. Check out your nearest college or provider here:

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Completed your law degree?

Have you successfully completed a Law Degree but cannot afford to continue with your career path, perhaps because your circumstances have changed? Maybe you have got married or decided to start a family, or have caring responsibilities, but you remain interested in working in the legal sector. Don’t worry, there are options for you too. Consider enrolling for the NALP Level 7 Diploma in Paralegal Practice. An affordable way to qualify as a paralegal, after completing your degree, without taking too much extra time. Completion can be within six to eight months although the maximum timeframe is, once again, two years. The flexibility of distance learning means that you can fit your studies round your home commitments. Once you are qualified, you can work within a legal practice as a paralegal or build towards setting up your own paralegal business.

Ability to change mid-way through

Even once you have started your paralegal qualification, you can change things around. For example, if you start studying by distance learning but find it’s not your thing, you can switch to another training provider that offers classroom attendance, and you can gain prior learning exemptions for the NALP Paralegal module(s) you have already successfully completed.

So, if you currently live in London and have completed a NALP single subject Award and move house to say, Cardiff, don’t panic as Cardiff and Vale College offers the NALP Level 3 Paralegal qualifications online or on campus! Alternatively, if you are moving to the Southwest of England, South Devon College offers delivery of the course either on or offsite. There is even a NALP training provider based in Cyprus if you decide to move further afield.

For many, a career in law is a dream job, but one that can seem unattainable due to the cost and time needed. If this applies to you, then qualifying as a paralegal could be the solution. It is flexible and affordable and allows you to work within a solicitor’s practice, in-house law teams in a huge variety of industries, and even set up your own paralegal practice to give more consumers access to affordable legal advice and assistance. And if later you decide you’d like to qualify as a solicitor and you have a Level 6 Qualification (does not have to be in Law), you can easily convert your qualifications and experience by initially enrolling for the BARBRI SQE (Solicitor’s Qualifying Exams) Prep Course which is an excellent way to prepare you for the SQE 1 and 2. So, by choosing the paralegal route you really do have all the options available to you.

Amanda Hamilton
Amanda Hamilton
Amanda Hamilton is the Patron of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit membership body and the only paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its Centres around the country, accredited and recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for those looking for a career as a paralegal professional.