Join us as an individual member who lives in the UK (including Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
1. What membership grades are available?
3. Benefits of membership
4. What work counts as legal practice experience?
5. What legal qualifications do the Institute recognise?
6. I want to apply now: online application form
7. I want to apply later: offline application form
8. How and when do I pay?
9. Any questions?
1. What Membership Grades are Available?
Institute membership grades are designed to give your clients, other legal practitioners and the judiciary an indication of how experienced you are as a legal professional. Therefore our membership grades are based upon how much legal practice experience (LPE) you have:
LPE required: none. You just need to be studying a law course.
For you if you want to join the legal profession.
LPE required: yes from 1 day’s experience up to 6 years’ worth of LPE.
For you if you have just started your career as a legal professional.
LPE required: yes, if you have over 6 years’ worth of LPE.
For you if you have a good understanding of legal rules and procedures in relation to your practice area.
Fellow of the IOP
LPE required: yes, at least 7.5 years’ worth of LPE
For you if you are a senior legal professional.
You can fast track if you have recognised legal qualifications. If you don't have any LPE yet, but have successfully completed certain courses, you can jump straight to Associate Paralegal status - see those courses marked with an * in section 5 below. Also see section 6 for a list of the recognised qualifications and how much LPE they are equivalent to, e.g.:
Ben has 4.5 years’ work experience as a paralegal, plus he has a law degree (which counts as 2 years’ LPE) = Ben is therefore considered to have 6.5 years' of LPE = he is eligible to join immediately as a Qualified Paralegal.
If you have professional designation you can use it in correspondence and in documentation and name cards etc., e.g.:
Jane Smith, Q.Inst.Pa
Prices are for 12 months’ membership from date of election to membership:
Affiliate Member: £59
Associate Paralegal: £99
Qualified Paralegal: £139
Fellow of the IOP: £159
3. Benefits of Membership
Please click here to see the many discounts and other benefits that come with membership.
4. What Work Counts As Legal Practice Experience (LPE)?
A paralegal is someone who does legal work even though they have not qualified as a solicitor or barrister.
By "legal work" we mean advising or assisting with the law. This can be done as part of paid employment (e.g. trades mark manager or debt recovery officer for a company), full-time or part-time, or as a significant element of a non-legal job (e.g. HR consultant), or on a voluntary basis (e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer).
Advising or assisting with the law is a very wide test. We have members who: do legal research for barristers; advise clients on the legal issues of digging up roads; are responsible in their organisation for HR issues; are case handlers for the council on housing disputes with tenants; do debt recovery work for their employers; have their own paralegal businesses advising on divorces and doing will writing; others do compliance work for banks, etc. If in doubt ask us.
Doing clerical or administrative work in a legal environment does not count as legal work. However we look at the work you do, not your job title. For example, many senior legal secretaries actually do quite a bit of paralegal work in addition to their secretarial duties. We can recognise the paralegal element of their work.
Many paralegals have different job titles: caseworker, contracts manager, legal assistant, compliance officer, housing assistant, company secretary, volunteer adviser, counsellor, trade mark clerk etc.
You are potentially a paralegal if you do paid or unpaid legal work for your employer or for clients or someone else. Your job title is irrelevant. What counts is that you do legal work sufficiently often to legitimately be considered as a (non-lawyer) legal practitioner.
Only one in three paralegals works for a solicitors' firm. The rest work for the government, the not-for-profit sector, companies, charities, industry etc.
If in doubt about whether the work you do counts as legal work then ask us. We will be happy to advise you, whether you are a member of the Institute or not.
5. What Legal Qualifications do the Institute Recognise?
The following list is not exhaustive. If you have a legal qualification that is not listed here please contact us and we will advise you:
Qualification and LPE Credit Given
BTEC in Advanced Paralegal Work*: 2 years
BVC/Bar Professional Training Course: 3 years
CILEX Level 3 Certificates in Law and Practice: 2 years
CILEX Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice: 3 years
CILEX Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law: 3 years
Fully qualified international lawyer: 2 years
Fully qualified mediator or arbitrator: 3 years
Fully qualified UK regulated lawyer (see below): 7 years
International paralegal experience: up to 6 months
Law Degree/Graduate Diploma in Law: 2 years
Legal Practice Course*: 3 years
Ashley Taylor Legal Training in Debt Recovery: 2 years
Ashley Taylor Legal Training in Mortgage Repossession: 2 years
OISC Level 1*: 1 year
OISC Level 2*: 2 years
OISC Level 3*: 3 years
Specialist Paralegal Qualification from UWE*: 3 years
SRA Accredited Police Station Representative: 3 years
UK judicial appointment: 7 years
* Successful completion of any of these courses will allow you to be elected to Associate Paralegal status (assuming you are an Institute member) even if you have not yet practised any law.
"Fully qualified UK regulated lawyer" means any lawyer who is fully qualified in his/her branch of the profession and that profession is one regulated under the Legal Services Act 2007, i.e. solicitors, barristers, notaries, Cilex, trade mark agents, patent agents, law cost draftsmen/costs lawyers and licensed conveyancers.
6. I Want to Apply Now: Online Application Form
Apart from your contact details, etc., there are three main things we will ask you about in the application form. Please make sure you have this information available before completing the form as the form cannot be saved part-completed:
1. How much LPE you have (not sure if your experience counts as LPE - see section 5 above or ask us).
2. Whether you have a recognised legal qualification that will allow you to fast-track to a higher membership grade (see section 5 above, or ask us).
3. If you have any other matters that you need to draw to our attention because they may affect our consideration of your application, e.g. previous convictions/current cases pending, bankruptcy or refused membership of another professional body or regulator such as the OISC, Ministry of Justice or Office of Fair Trading etc. If you are not sure, please disclose the matter, or ask us about it in confidence first.
But first read the following:
7. I Want to Apply Later: Offline Application Form
To save an application form for later completion/future submission by email, fax or post, please open it here and then save it to your own computer before completing it.
The form is in Microsoft Word 97-2003 format. If you cannot open the application form, then either:
a) Download the free Microsoft Word Viewer programme from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/891090. This will allow you to view and print off Word documents;
b) Save it and then convert it to a different file format using a free online file conversion service (e.g. www.zamzar.com);
c) Download and use the free Open Office™ suite of programmes to complete and return the form (this free series of office programs are all compatible with Microsoft Word/Office. Download it from http://openoffice.softuk.org/)
8. How and When do I Pay?
Payment should be made at the same time as you send in the application form. It is not a problem if you apply online but send in your cheque by post a few days later.
If you would rather we checked over your application before sending any money in, let us know as we are happy to do that (just make a note in the comments section of the online application form or in any covering letter/email for offline applications.
If for any reason you paid us, but then choose to withdraw your application before acceptance or your application is rejected by us for any reason, then we will automatically refund your application fee in full.
If you pay for one membership grade but we offer you a different grade you will get a refund if there was an overpayment, and if you made an underpayment, then you will have the option of either (i) paying the excess or (ii) not paying it and sticking with the (lower) fee and grade you applied for.
Our guarantee to you: we elect you or your money back
You can pay in one of four ways:
1. By Direct Debit:
2. By sterling cheque, postal order or bankers’ draft:
Payable to "Institute of Paralegals", and sent to us by post to:
Institute of Paralegals
Unit 110 Print Rooms
164-180 Union Street
London SE1 0LH
3. Via bank transfer
To our UK account (details upon request, all bank charges to be paid by you)
4. By credit/debit card:
The payment should be made to our account which is named email@example.com (NB: this is the name of our account, not an active e-mail address).
10. Any Questions?
Once again, many thanks in advance for your application. We would be delighted if you joined us!