Career in Law | Blog

Paralegal To Trainee Solicitor: A Route To Training Contract?

The harsh reality is that there are simply not enough training contracts available each year for all aspiring lawyers. As a result, many end up pursuing paralegal jobs whilst continuing to search and apply for training contract jobs. But what are the advantages of taking up a paralegal role before training contract? and does paralegal work help or diminish your chances of securing a trainee position in the future? Below we set out the benefits of paralegal work experience and how this could help you progress from paralegal to training contract.

The benefits of paralegal before training contract
Paralegal experience can offer many benefits to your law career but perhaps the most important of all is the invaluable insight you get into lawyer's job at a law firm. Other important benefits include:

  1. facilitates networking opportunities 
  2. enables to build your personal brand
  3. the level of work is often at a trainee level (depending on the level of experience)
  4. it adds value to your CV
  5. provides exposure to different areas of law
  6. enables to develop skills required by lawyers
  7. it demonstrates a commitment to a career in law
  8. it can help with the decision process when applying for training contracts

Paralegals now play an important role within a legal team, as a result, the legal experience and skills gained from this role do can only add value to aspiring lawyers in pursuit of a career in law. Not convinced? A trainee solicitor from Shoosmith LLP shares her view on taking up a paralegal position prior to the training contract. Indeed, there some arguments made that this route is slowly becoming the norm to qualifying - at least at small to medium size law firms. 

Is this a route to a training contract?

Strictly speaking, this is not your golden ticket to a training contract because ultimately securing a training contract is not solely dependent on the legal work experience alone. However, the experience gained can help you through the application process in a number of ways. With your past experience, you are likely to find it easier to justify in the applications and interviews your pursuit for a career in law and even as a lawyer. You will have real examples to back up your answers but also to rely on your experience as points of discussion. Equally, you may find it easier to justify your interest in a specific area of law or a particular law firm. Additionally, if you have networked well you may already be known to the recruitment team, which can only be a positive point. Depending on your level of experience but if in your role you had billing targets (fee earning) this could be an interesting discussion topic and one that recruiters will take a keen interest. Ultimately, if you approach the role in the right way, not only it will add value to your CV but it should also boost your confidence when going through the training contract application process - a view shared by Royds Withy King Trainee Solicitor.

Paralegal training contract vacancies 

In more recent times we have seen a number of paralegals subsequently securing training contracts at the same firm. This is an illustration that at least some firms take a more flexible approach to recruiting trainees from paralegals. With that in mind, why not search for a role at a firm that already has a track record in recruiting trainees from via this route? By taking this approach you are likely to increase your chances of landing a trainee role. A simple search on LinkedIn or Google should reveal which firms have previously taken this approach.


Ultimately, whether you apply for law training contracts from a paralegal role or of the back of a vacation scheme, the application process is the same for all. However, it cannot be underestimated that a paralegal role can give you more confidence and make it easier to tackle those difficult training contract application questions. 


Joe Simmons

Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs

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