Analysis of Complaints Received by the Professional Regulation Division in 2013 seems to indicate a troubling pattern.
While sole practitioners constitute 52% of all practising paralegals, over 70% of complaints against paralegals that were received in Professional Regulation involve paralegals practising alone.
Law Society’s membership stats break down paralegals in active practice by firm size:
• 52% of paralegals were sole practitioners;
• 21% of paralegals were in small firms;
• 10% of paralegals were in medium-sized firms;
• 17% of paralegals were in large firms.
The majority of new paralegal licensees currently outnumbers those with four or more years in active practice, at 56% and 44% respectively.
Despite this, paralegals who have been licensed to provide legal services for up to one year received 13% of all complaints received in Professional Regulation, while paralegals who have been licensed for three years or more received 58% of all complaints received.
Compared to paralegals who practice in large firms, sole practitioners received a significantly higher percent of complaints raising governance, integrity and service issues than was expected, the report notes.
Practice Area Affects Complaints Figures
In terms of area of practice, paralegals in sole practice received a significantly higher percent of complaints than expected in civil litigation and criminal or quasi-criminal practice, the two law areas analyzed.
Paralegals who have been licensed up to one year had a significantly lower percent of civil litigation and criminal / quasi-criminal complaints than was expected. Paralegals licensed for four or more years had a significantly higher percent of civil litigation complaints than was expected.
The Professional Regulation Committee Report to June Convocation is available online.