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CILEX acquires Institute of Paralegals

CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) has strengthened its position as the body thatchampions specialist legal professionals by acquiring the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) and itsProfessional Paralegal Register (PPR).

The IoP, which began operating in 2005, has around 1,000 members, more than three-quarters of whom are on the PPR, a voluntary regulator set up in 2015. There are a further 200 members of other paralegal organisations on the PPR.

Around 44% of IoP members are in law firms – the rest work in a wide variety of settings, from companies and charities to local and other public authorities, such as the NHS (for example, as contract managers). Some run their own businesses.

It is the latest move from CILEX to boost consumer confidence in the provision of legal services, ensuring paralegals have the necessary experience, training and regulation. As the pioneer of the non- university route into law, CILEX has grown its influence and membership in recent years, opening up the profession to make it more diverse and representative of the society it serves.

Throughout 2023 CILEX will manage a phased transition integrating IoP and PPR members into CILEX membership. Whilst their IoP status and membership package will be retained, joining CILEX will give them access to the integrity and quality standard associated with CILEX Paralegal status along with the benefits of CILEX networks, membership services and CPD, already enjoyed by 12,000 CILEX paralegal members. They will also have the opportunity to advance their careers through the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ) to become Advanced Paralegals or CILEX Lawyers if they want.

IoP chief executive Rita Leat, who is also managing director of the PPR, will work with CILEX as a special adviser during 2023 to advise on the transition and to support IoP and PPR members and their employers to take advantage of the benefits of this change. The National Paralegal Awards will continue, as will the PPR.

CILEX chief executive Linda Ford says: “CILEX and the IoP have a shared vision for recognising the important role paralegals play in the delivery of legal services. As the home of specialist legal professionals, we were the natural choice to take the IoP and PPR forward, as we are able to offer its members a recognised professional status as a CILEX Paralegal and access to structured and supported career pathways.

“As employers increasingly recognise the value of a legal workforce with diverse skills, backgrounds and experiences, we see the role of paralegals only becoming more important. Rita has done a terrific job in developing the IoP and PPR and we intend to build on her legacy. Being CILEX members will give these legal professionals the support, training and regulation they need to stand out in the market.”

Rita Leat worked for CILEX on its paralegal programmes in the 2000s and says: “It has been an absolute privilege to represent and champion paralegals as the chief executive of the IoP, but in the interests of its members, the time is right to hand it over to an organisation that can further progress the career of paralegals. CILEX is the perfect organisation to build on the IoP’s success and I am excited to see what 2023 will bring.” Mike Simpson from Simpson Solicitors, part of the Right Legal Group, is a one of a number of law firms to support the acquisition. He says: “We are delighted to see the progression of the paralegal profession and will watch keenly the continued success of this sector with this new direction. The Right Legal Group have been training and developing paralegals for many years and they make up an important part of our workforce. These changes will enhance the opportunities for paralegals.”

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