Will writers have become the first practitioners to sign up to a new register of paralegals, which is set to be launched next month as part of an effort to set standards for the non-authorised legal professionals.
The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) has asked its members to sign up to the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) before it goes live on 6 July.
The voluntary register has been developed by the National Association of Licensed Paralegals and the Institute of Paralegals over the past 18 months to provide for the first time a standards benchmark for paralegals. A code of conduct went live on 1 June and the register will issue a ‘practising certificate’, without which paralegals cannot practise under the register.
There will be various membership tiers on the register, depending on experience and qualifications. A complaints process will operate and sanctions on paralegals that fail to adhere to the code include, in certain circumstances, compensation to wronged parties.
The register’s patrons include Espe Fuentes, head of legal operations at Which? Legal, and Professor Julian Webb of Melbourne Law School, who when at Warwick University led the Legal Education and Training Review.
The register is governed by a regulatory committee and has an independent advisory board, which it says consists of “industry experts across a broad spectrum of experiences and roles to ensure good practices in governance” and “has been formed to oversee the work of the PPR and advise [the committee] on both strategic and operational activity”.
The advisory board is chaired by Chris White, founder of Aspiring Solicitors, an organisation which promotes diversity in the legal profession. Mr White said the register “will not only seek to protect consumers, but importantly it will reward and recognise the efforts of all paralegals as they gain greater experience and knowledge in their respective fields”.
Sally Brown, chief executive of the IPW, said: “The [IPW] are very pleased to achieve recognised status as a membership body with the [PPR]. Our members already adhere to a strict code of practice approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute under their Consumer Codes Approval Scheme and they are keen that they are now recognised as professional paralegals and to take advantage of the additional support that membership of the PPR will bring.”
Rita Leat, director of the PPR, added: “We are delighted to welcome IPW into the fold of the paralegal profession. IPW have demonstrated the highest standards required by membership bodies, which means that its members are able to apply to be regulated under the PPR.
“This is good news for its members who can now be recognised as paralegals and great news for consumers who can now use the register to search for professional will writers in the knowledge that they will be protected.”