CILEX strengthens position with Institute of Paralegals acquisition

Leat: Time is right to hand over IoP

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) has acquired the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) and its Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) as it looks to strengthen its position as the body for specialist legal professionals.

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. All will now enter regulation through CILEX, which already has 12,000 paralegal members.

Around 44% of IoP members work in law firms, with the rest in a wide variety of settings, from companies and charities to local and other public authorities. Some run their own businesses.

IoP and PPR members will retain their existing status but also be integrated into CILEX membership during 2023. Their experience and qualifications will be mapped across to the relevant CILEX qualification, such as student, paralegal and advanced paralegal, allowing them to advance their careers through the CILEX Professional Qualification ultimately to become fully qualified 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 her members and their employers. The National Paralegal Awards will continue, as will the PPR.

The PPR was set up by the IoP and, initially, the National Association of Licensed Paralegals as a direct response to the Legal Education and Training Review’s call for a regulator to come forward for the unregulated sector.

CILEX chief executive Linda Ford said: “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.”

Ms Leat, who worked for CILEX on its paralegal programmes in the 2000s, added: “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.”

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