What is the difference between Solicitors and Paralegals?

What is the difference between a firm of solicitors and a paralegal business? The starting point for this is the definition of paralegal, the definition of paralegal is someone who is not qualified or appropriately regulated as a proper lawyer. A firm of solicitors by their very nature are qualified and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

Any work which is undertaken in a firm of solicitors is either done by or supervised by experienced qualified solicitors.

Solicitors are members of the Law Society and have individual regulation numbers with the SRA. They have a legal right to provide and progress cases on behalf of clients. They have rights of audience at court and because they are fully regulated entity’s they are allowed to make applications to court and also draft defences, statements of case and generally represent clients.

Paralegals do not have any form, regulation, or qualification and as a consequence the law states they are not allowed to take any steps in litigation. This means that they are not allowed to make applications to court, appear in court for you or write to the other party. Their traditional role is the assist solicitors and not to do the work of the solicitors or barristers.

Any firm claiming that they are a regulated firm of paralegals can ask whom they are regulated by. The institute of paralegals does not regulate, is not a regulatory body and is very simple to become a member of that institution by simply applying, you do not have to pass any procedural exams etc.

Please be advised only firms of solicitors can make applications to court for you. Paralegals are not legally allowed to make an application for you. If you are in any way unsure if somebody is providing an unlawful legal service, then you should report them to the SRA. The link is provided here:

There are a number of rogue companies in the marketplace who I would urge you to treat with considerable caution. A number of these organisations are currently being investigated for unlawful legal services.

Finally, in the event that you have a complaint you can always complain to legal ombudsmen or to the SRA if you are using a firm of solicitors.

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