CILEX Acquisition of IoP and PPR – FAQs
What is the Institute of Paralegals (IoP)?
The IoP is the only institute solely for paralegals in the UK. It is an international professional membership body that connects individuals with the shared purpose of providing professional legal services.
Its mission is to set professional standards, provide recognition for paralegals and promote professionalism.
It has around 1,000 members at various different grades, which range from student to Fellow (F.Inst.Pa). While the former requires no experience or qualification, the latter needs a Level 6 qualification or above (degree level) and a minimum of four years’ legal practice experience.
What is the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR)?
The PPR was created by IoP in 2015 in direct response to the 2013 Legal Education and Training Review, which was set up by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and CILEX. It recommended that a body should come forward to regulate paralegals who are working outside of the regulated sector.
It is a voluntary regulatory body for such paralegals, promoting greater consumer choice and protection, and also professionalising paralegals. Most of those on it are IoP members, but some are members of other paralegal organisations.
What is the rationale behind the acquisition?
IoP chief executive Rita Leat was looking for a partner who could build on its members’ potential. CILEX’s mission and operating model is closely aligned with the IoP’s proposition and values, making it a natural fit.
CILEX already has 12,000 paralegals in its membership. In making this acquisition, CILEX identified many synergies between its work and a shared vision for recognising the important role paralegals play in the delivery of legal services and the value of having a career pathway for paralegals. This deal reaffirms that CILEX is the natural home for specialist legal professionals.
The addition of circa 1,000 IoP/PPR paralegals to CILEX membership will increase the diversity of our professional networks to include a wider range of roles and employment contexts, and will help us build a larger and stronger network of organisations employing legal professionals.
What CILEX membership grade will IoP/PPR members be accepted into?
CILEX will map the qualifications and experience of IoP/PPR members to the CILEX membership grades. IoP/PPR members will retain their IoP/PPR digital credential alongside their CILEX status.
Does any of this impact your proposal to transfer regulation to the SRA? Is it envisaged that the SRA would regulate paralegals?
Any change to our delegated model of regulation will apply to all CILEX members regardless of their route into CILEX. No decision has been made about a move to the SRA and IoPall CILEX members including those from the IoP/PPR will be included in any future consultation should CILEX consider changingchange its regulator.
Is this not reducing the quality of the CILEX membership?
Not at all. IoP members have been assessed to a standard to join IoP and to be accepted onto the PPR. CILEX already has a route to qualificationsinto the paralegal membership grade based on experience and members. Members of the IoP and PPR will be mapped to the appropriate CILEXexisting standards and requirements underpinning each CILEX membership grade based on their evidenced experience and/or relevant qualifications. This process will ensure the integrity of CILEX membership status is maintained.
What benefit will these acquisitions have for existing CILEX members?
This acquisition will strengthen CILEX by adding to the richness of its diverse membership with the addition of a wider pool of legal professionals from a greater variety of roles and working environments, all being regulated to the same standards thereby enhancing quality and consistency amongst those delivering legal services.
The insight contained within IoP will enhance CILEX’s understanding of the career options and needs of paralegals involved in legal services provision in England and Wales, it will expand our reach into more employer organisations and grow our networks. In turn this will help us progress our campaign to remove barriers and improve the culture and working environment for those working in the legal profession.
What is happening to the IoP staff?
Chief executive Rita Leat is joining CILEX as a special adviser to ensure a smooth transfer, and will remain in touch with IoP members and employers. The two IoP employees will be retained joining the CILEX membership team.
Will the National Paralegal Awards continue?
Yes. CILEX wants to continue celebrating the achievements of paralegals and those firms who invest in and support them.
What will happen to the IoP name?
The IoP name and trademark will be transferred to CILEX.
What is happening with the PPR?
It will continue to operate as it is, managed by CILEX.
Will it not be confusing with the CILEX Authorised Practitioner Directory?
No, the Practitioner Directory is only for lawyers and is managed by CILEX Regulation Limited. CILEX will maintain and publish the Professional Paralegal Register directly on the CILEX website.
How much has the acquisition cost?
This will be reported in the 2022 CILEX annual accounts and at our next AGM.