CILEX consults on next stage of reform agenda

Professional Paralegal Register founder wins outstanding achievement award at National Paralegal Awards 2023

15 September 2023

The National Paralegal Awards, celebrating the very best paralegals across the UK and the businesses that support them, bestowed this year’s outstanding achievement award to Rita Leat, founder of the Professional Paralegal Register and former chief executive of the Institute of Paralegals (IoP). The award recognised her commitment to advancing the paralegal profession and enhancing professional standards.

Rita worked both as a commercial lawyer and in paralegal education before becoming the chief operating officer of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals in 2011 and later, the chief executive of the IoP where she oversaw its modernisation, growing the membership to over 1000 paralegals. In 2014, she was one of the founding directors of the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR), the voluntary register and regulator for professional paralegals.

Paralegal of the Year was awarded to Philip Nam, a civil litigation paralegal, reflecting his hard work in setting up his own business – White Collar (Legal and Admin) Ltd – from scratch. National Paralegal Business of the Year went to IP firm, Mewburn Ellis in recognition of its investment in its paralegals and their progression.

Now in its fifth year and hosted by CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) and the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR), the awards ceremony took place at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham on Thursday evening.

The other winners are:

  • Best Family Law Paralegal– Stacey Griffiths – WSP Solicitors
  • Best Conveyancing/Real Estate Paralegal– Clare Waters, Brachers LLP
  • Best Employment/HR Paralegal– John Paul Stothard, self-employed
  • Best Intellectual Property Paralegal– Sarah Devereux, EIP Europe
  • Best Litigation ParalegalPhilip Nam, White Collar (Legal and Admin) Ltd
  • Best Probate Research Paralegal– Claire Miller, Langton Genealogy
  • Best Will Writing Paralegal– Serena Ely, Lucas & Wyllys Solicitors
  • Community Champion of the Yearr – Rachel Collier, Mewburn Ellis LLP
  • Best Newcomer/Young Practitioner of the Year– Lucy Cleary, Dentons UK and Middle East LLP
  • Best Paralegal Apprentice of the Year– Emily Dupont, Plymouth City Council
  • Best Legal Profession Supplier Award
  • Best Legal Profession Supplier Award– BARBRI
  • Probate Research Organisation of the Year– Anglia Research Services
  • Will Writing Business of the Year– The RightLegal Group Ltd
  • Best Law Firm Paralegal Development– Pinsent Masons Vario
  • Paralegal of the Year Midlands & North– Claire Miller, Langton Genealogy
  • Paralegal of the Year South – Hannah April Campbell, Attwells Solicitors LLP

Linda Ford CEO of CILEX, which acquired the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) and the PPR in December 2022, said: “Paralegals play an increasingly vital role in the delivery of legal services and these awards recognise their hard work and achievements. This was an important opportunity to celebrate paralegals across the country who, like national paralegal award winner Philip Nam, are doing great work, and employers such as Mewburn Ellis and Pinsent Masons Vario, firms which are providing workplaces where paralegals can thrive, develop and build their careers.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to outstanding achievement award winner Rita Leat who has done so much for the paralegal profession, through her work on paralegal qualifications, in modernising the IoP and founding the PPR. She has been a true champion of the profession, representing paralegals and their interests during a time when their role in legal services has grown increasingly important. She has created a significant legacy.”

Rita Leat said: “I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive the outstanding achievement award. Throughout my career in the legal sector I have striven to improve the status of paralegals – re-writing the competency standards and bringing in robust regulation through the formation of the PPR.

“Paralegals are the backbone of our legal services sector and there is a greater demand now than ever before. As the founder of the NPAs, I am delighted to see so many paralegals celebrating their achievements here today.

“There is still much to do to bring more recognition to the paralegal profession and I look forward to watching the sector grow under CILEX’s direction.”

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For further information, please contact:

Kerry Jack, Black Letter Communications on 0203 567 1208 / 07525 756 599 or email at [email protected]

Notes to editors:

CILEX (The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) is one of the three main professional bodies covering the legal profession in England and Wales. The approximately 20,000-strong membership is made up of CILEX Lawyers, Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals and other legal professionals.

CILEX pioneered the non-university route into law and recently launched the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ), a new approach to on-the-job training that marries legal knowledge with the practical skills, behaviours and commercial awareness needed by lawyers in the 2020s.

The CPQ is a progressive qualification framework that creates a workforce of specialist legal professionals, providing a career ladder from Paralegal through to Advanced Paralegal and ultimately full qualification as a CILEX Lawyer. CILEX Lawyers can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.

CILEX members come from more diverse backgrounds than other parts of the legal profession:

  • 77% of its lawyers are women
  • 16% are from ethnic minority backgrounds
    • 8% are Asian or Asian British
    • 5% are Black or Black British
    • 3% are from a mixed ethnic background
  • 85% attended state schools
  • 33% are the first generation in their family to attend university
  • Only 3% of its members have a parent who is a lawyer.

CILEX members are regulated through an independent body, CILEx Regulation. It is the only regulator covering paralegals.

Linda Ford is CEO of CILEX