I get a bit depressed when I read this kind of story in the Law Society Gazette seeking to link paralegal qualifications and entry to diversity in the professions. It’s not that this is a bad idea, in and of itself. Paralegals are valuable providers of legal services and anything which builds routes into the profession must be welcome. But paralegals will, on the whole, struggle to enter the profession (whatever the qualifications – and ‘good’ (read ‘expensive)’ qualifications will make it more difficult) and tend to end up in the low-value, poorly paid work. It may be that the diversity of the profession will improve ‘en masse’ but it will be diversity at the bottom end, where it is already less of a problem, not at the top where it most counts. The idea that it is at this end of the market where diversity is a problem is one I find rather baffling. With a highly stratified market for training contracts, it is the high volume entry in the larger firms which needs to change if the profession is genuinely to become more diverse.
Published by Richard Moorhead
Professor of Law and Head of School, University of Exeter Law School. FAcSS. Honorary Prof, UCL Laws. Particularly interested legal ethics, the professions, access to justice, the future of practice, social mobility, and legal education. View all posts by Richard Moorhead