“I am planning to train as a solicitor via the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) pathway and currently enrolled on a part-time SQE Prep Course whilst working as a paralegal. Can my current paralegal role count as qualifying work experience (QWE)?”
In theory this should be possible. But I recommend discussing with your current employer because your QWE must be confirmed by a solicitor or Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (or COLP). Before doing so, they will need to think about your day-to-day responsibilities and how these have helped you to develop some or all of the competences needed to be a solicitor, as determined by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. From your perspective, you will need to keep an appropriate record of your experience. Another important consideration is how relevant the experience you are acquiring is to the type of solicitor you eventually want to become and what value your role is adding to your CV?
Related to this, the work carried out by paralegals can vary hugely with some roles involving more admin than exposure to the law and clients etc. So, for anyone in the process of applying for paralegal roles it is important to pay particular attention to the job specification. Also, to manage your expectations and that of the hiring organisation, you should consider discussing your needs with the individual responsible for recruitment – ie your recruitment consultant if you are making applications via an agency or HR in the context of direct applications.
Husnara Begum, contributing editor and associate careers coach