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The role of a graduate paralegal in the Court of Protection team

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A day in the life of a graduate paralegal in the Court of Protection team

I started my role as a graduate paralegal at Stephensons on 16 January 2023, it is my first legal job and my first step into a (hopefully) long legal career. Not only was the job new to me, but the area of law itself was something I had very little experience of. The Court of Protection is not necessarily something you learn about in your undergraduate degree, however, following preparation for my interview, I decided that it might just be right for me.

I have always said that if I was to work in law, I would want to practice in an area of law where I feel that I can help people, and I really feel as though this work does that.

The work in the department mainly revolves around helping those who have been found to lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves, often concerning their residence and care. Cases can range from acting for a vulnerable adult who is objecting to being in a residential care home, to assisting family members that dispute the decision of medical professionals to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment from their loved one. Additionally, a lot of the work we do is funded by Legal Aid, giving me the opportunity to provide legal assistance to those who otherwise would not be able to access it.

I think I always had the impression that a paralegal’s role is made up of photocopying and making tea(!), and whilst I am on good terms with the printer, my day-to-day duties could not be further from that. I am one of the first points of contact for new enquiries, I liaise with barristers and their chambers, I visit clients and draft documents (such as witness statements) to support court applications. I have gained so much experience already and I am only three months into my role.

It can be stressful as a beginner at times, however, it is rewarding to see the law being used to benefit some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and work with experienced solicitors in the field.

I have been welcomed into the team and been given real encouragement and support, something you don’t expect to receive from a law firm as large as Stephensons. When I make mistakes (and I have made a few!), my team allows me the freedom to learn from them and works with me so that I can understand where I went wrong.

I was a part of the first year group to endure the mandatory 18 years of education, so with the addition of my three year degree, I found myself fresh out of education with limited legal and real world experience. I now study my masters and LPC part-time, alongside my full-time job as a paralegal. I may have less free time, however, I would encourage anyone who is at the beginning of their legal career, especially if you are questioning whether it is the right path for you, to gain experience as a paralegal.

Stephensons is giving me invaluable experience alongside my studies, and everyone at the firm has been extremely supportive and approachable. No question is a silly question!

By Emma O'Brien, graduate paralegal

For more information on life at Stephesons please visit our careers section or for details of current vacancies click here.