Legal awards: Top paralegals reflect change in market

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PARALEGALS are an integral part of the changing legal market in Scotland – and the 2013 winner of the long-standing and popular Paralegal of the Year award reflects the value that they can add to both a firm and its clients.

Claire Corbin of Edinburgh-based MBM Commercial has worked for the company since 2007 and has been a specialist corporate paralegal for two years. She is a double graduate and is a Fellow of the Institute of Paralegals – and the judges recognised that the breadth of her experience, coupled with ten years in the legal profession, has allowed Corbin to offer her clients exceptional value above and beyond her rates.

Alison Butters, joint president of the Scottish Paralegal Association, which sponsors the award, says: “It is very satisfying to see the growth of the paralegal profession in Scotland and the Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal Scheme (developed in association with the Scottish Paralegal Association) has gone a long way in promoting the career and providing a defined career path for paralegals. If a para legal is a Law Society of Scotland Registered Paralegal, this gives the public confidence that the person handling their important legal work is qualified and experienced.”

Traditionally, many para legals were legal secretaries or administration staff who went on to undertake paralegal qualifications and then moved into a paralegal role – but that is changing, according to Alison Butters.

She says: “Now there are more paralegals coming into the profession straight from college or university with a legal qualification, but who chose not to go down the solicitor route. They generally work in support of a solicitor and most do conduct the entire case from start to finish and are highly qualified and experienced – and very much part of the team.”

There were five finalists in this year’s Paralegal of the Year, reflecting the continued popularity and importance of the category in the awards programme.