Anyone can join the Institute although the three practice grades of membership are only open to practising paralegals.
Membership is not a license to practice.
The Associate Paralegal, Qualified Paralegal and Fellow of the IOP designations are not a licence to practice as a paralegal. There is no such licensing scheme operating in England and Wales. Anyone implying otherwise (i.e. that you need to do a particular course to qualify) is misrepresenting the position. You become a paralegal simply by getting a job as a paralegal. The majority of paralegals still do not have any formal legal qualifications. The only paralegals needing prior permission before practising are paralegal law firms or paralegal sole practitioners who come under the remit of the Ministry of Justice or Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.
Our professional designations are intended as a quality kite mark notifying employers, regulators and fellow professionals that you are, and wish to be held to the standards of, a competent recognised legal practitioner; that you have voluntarily subjected yourself to a Paralegal Code of Conduct and that you have voluntarily undertaken annual CPD requirements.