Cheers for Reading: What is a Paralegal?

30 September 2020

By Sarah Cheers, Paralegal, Wills, Trusts & Estates Team

Hi, I am Sarah Cheers. I joined Cullimore Dutton’s Wills, Trusts & Estates department in April of this year, and I am sharing this series of brief insights into my time as a paralegal.

In this second post, I want to share an overview of what a paralegal actually is and how we support solicitors. 

What is a Paralegal?
A paralegal is a legally trained person who performs legal work alongside a solicitor, aiding them with their workload. Paralegals are required to have an in-depth knowledge of the law and legal procedures; they can do virtually everything that a solicitor can do, however, they are not a qualified solicitor or legal executive. 

A lot of people choose to become paralegals as part of their journey towards becoming a solicitor, however, the role is a recognised and respected position within the legal sector.

Do Paralegals hold any qualifications?
It is not a requirement to hold any specific qualifications to be a paralegal as it is very much an experience-based role – I gained the majority of my experience during my six years working as a legal secretary, however there are specialist paralegal qualifications available, covering specific areas of the law. 

Our Specialist Qualifications
My colleague and fellow paralegal Sarah Gill and I are unique in that we both hold the Paralegal Practice Qualification in Wills, Probate and Administration, gained in 2015 through the University of Strathclyde. This means that we are both uniquely qualified to deal with Wills, Probate and Estate Administration matters as we have specialist knowledge in this area of law. 

How are Paralegals different to Solicitors
We are not very different at all, other than the fact that we do not hold the Solicitors Qualification. Our time is chargeable, though our charge out rates are usually lower than that of a solicitor, Paralegals are a vital part of our team structure and ensure that work is undertaken by colleagues with the correct level of expertise. This in turn ensures that our clients are charged at the appropriate rate. Generally, we will have our own caseload to work on, (Sarah and I certainly do) and our work is undertaken with the support of and supervised by a solicitor.  

How do Paralegals support Solicitors
We support solicitors by helping with their caseload; sitting in on meetings, drafting documents, meeting clients and taking instructions.

I love being a paralegal, it is a role which affords me plenty of opportunities to help and support both clients and my solicitor colleagues. It enables me to put to use my skills, experience and knowledge of the law on a daily basis.

Until next time…

Cheers, Sarah

Get in touch with Cullimore Dutton Solicitors on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.