Skip to main content

Professional Qualifications for Legal Professionals

29 March 2023
Back of woman talking to the court


Legal qualifications are essential to the continual monitoring of standards within the profession. In essence, the degree of accountability in this high-stakes sector stems from the high level of expertise, judgement, and skill set required on a daily basis. Professionalism and risk management both play a critical role in the representation of clients and the mitigation of scrutiny.

From lawyers and solicitors to paralegals and legal assistants, successfully navigating the complexities of the field demands a comprehensive understanding of the role and a high level of competence.

In today’s fast-paced landscape, the pressure to adapt to the various developments that are shaping the evolution of the legal sector has never been greater. If qualifications are too broad, or the focus on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is dropped, the ability to remain agile and relevant becomes more of a challenge.

We understand the role that professional qualifications play in raising everyday standards. In this article, we will highlight why creating tailored qualifications for your workforce can not only help to enhance your professional standing but enable the longevity of your organisation.

Partner with Kaplan Assessments to design, develop, and/or deliver a tailored solution that meets the specific needs of your legal firm.

What are Legal Qualifications?

Generally speaking, legal qualifications are a regulatory requirement needed to become a legal professional, demonstrating an earned right to practise within this highly specialist field. These can vary across the different areas of law, as well as the level of expertise required for specific roles.

Post-qualification, additional certifications can be completed to further enhance skill sets, keep up with the latest trends, and demonstrate professional development in specific areas.

Whether it’s to fulfil regulatory expectations or to position your workforce as proactive and future-oriented, legal qualifications are central to the stability and trustworthiness of your organisation.

Tailored legal qualifications can help your employees navigate the challenges of the sector

The recent reform and modernisation of the legal profession has been far-reaching, transforming the delivery of legal services and, in many cases, changing the nature of professional roles. With reduced time and costs associated with carrying out specialist tasks, there are many positive implications for your employees and your clients. However, this has also led to increased pressure on legal firms to keep up with these developments, introducing the question of competency.

The digitisation of the legal sector

Technological advancements have not only disrupted the sector but have radically changed the way in which organisations function. Whether it’s streamlining tasks through the use of electronic discovery software or introducing cloud-based solutions to securely manage legal documents, the future of the legal profession is digital. 

The increasing danger of cybercrime

As technology continues to evolve and develop, revolutionising day-to-day processes, the increased risk of cyber threats must also be acknowledged. With legal firms being targeted for sensitive information through incidents such as data breaches or phishing scams, technological competency is more important than ever. Confidentiality is an integral part of the sector and failing to stay up-to-date with the latest developments will have a devastating impact, not just on individual businesses but the profession as a whole.

Increased pressure to keep up with the competition

In addition to the pressing threat of cybercrime, the digitisation of the legal sector introduces a competitive dynamic. With legal firms across the profession beginning to effectively leverage technology, failure to do so will place your business at a disadvantage. The promotion of innovation in this field is being further driven by regulatory bodies, such as the Legal Services Board, placing additional weight on raising standards.

Greater need to upskill your workforce

This pressure to innovate and improve your services will also have consequences for your workforce, with a greater need to upgrade skill sets and ensure versatility.

Our tailored professional qualifications aim to address this challenge. Assessing competency within a more specific subject area, whether that’s relevant to emerging trends or the requirements of a particular role, will provide your legal firm with a stamp of credibility and enable you to stand out in a crowded market.

Why tailored Continuing Professional Development should be essential across the legal sector

Once your staff have qualified for and settled into a role, the motivation to follow a continual process of self-improvement can often become lost in the commotion of day-to-day responsibilities.

The constantly changing nature of the legal landscape has created an increased need for the ongoing assessment of skill sets. This begs the question, how are legal organisations providing their workforce with the tools to adapt positively to these changes?

Continuing Professional Development is the process of enhancing professional expertise and abilities. This can include the assessment of skills that are unique to a specific role, measuring the level of understanding around a new software or technology, or deepening the knowledge of a particular subject area. Providing your employees with this platform for proactive development, through a regulated qualification delivered by an awarding body, ensures they remain competent, compliant, and effective throughout their careers. It will also foster a culture of learning and growth within your legal firm, resulting in an engaged and productive workforce.

In many instances, professionals are required to complete CPD in order to maintain their legal licensure and accreditation. The specific requirements will vary depending on particular roles. For example, the Institute of Paralegals asks its members to complete twelve hours of CPD per year. For barristers who have been practising for longer, the Bar Standards Board requests twelve hours a year to ensure their quality of work is continually improving.

By identifying particular gaps in knowledge or areas of risk as a focal point, you can ensure that the qualification obtained by your staff is relevant and can effectively serve your growth as a business.

Looking for a professional CPD qualification that can be built around your legal firm?

As the legal sector continues to adapt, demonstrating the knowledge and skills required to meet shifting standards is vital. At Kaplan Assessments, shaping rounded professionals that instil confidence in your sector is our speciality. We believe that qualifications should be contextualised within the workplace and designed to overcome real-world obstacles, addressing the continual need for professional development. Combining operational excellence with assessment expertise, we can partner with you to create a nationally recognised CPD qualification that ticks all your boxes.

Is the current professional framework for lower-level legal professionals too broad?

Ranging from legal secretaries to paralegals and clerks, there are a variety of job titles that fall into the less senior category. Although these roles tend to encompass a wide range of responsibilities, each one will require a unique skill set and knowledge base to complete tasks to a high standard. For instance, a legal secretary may need to demonstrate proficiency in office software, while a paralegal role is more focused on developing advanced research and analytical skills. These responsibilities will also vary depending on how your legal firm operates on an individual level.

The professional framework is designed to accommodate a broad spectrum of knowledge and often lacks the specificity needed to fulfil particular roles to a high standard. As the sector continues to evolve, the expectations held over legal professionals will shift, including those at a lower level. Job descriptions will have to adapt to incorporate new developments, resulting in the need for additional modules with a more specific focus. To future-proof your law firm, upskilling your staff is, therefore, more important than ever.

Another consideration is the depth of technical expertise required to work within different areas of practice, such as corporate or commercial law. Sector-specific knowledge should be a core component of the assessment process but is currently overlooked within the more generalised structure.

From conducting legal research to providing administrative support and communicating with clients, these positions are vital to the overall functioning of any law firm or legal department. When the responsibilities of a role are not clearly defined or understood, it can have significant implications for your organisation, including decreased productivity and damage to reputation.

In a high-stakes environment, ensuring your staff are carrying out their roles successfully and to the satisfaction of your clients is critical. This can be addressed with a review of your current assessment practices. For competency to be measured effectively, there needs to be a focus on practical skills application. The most appropriate methods will therefore be relevant to the day-to-day duties of a particular role.

With the accelerated pace of modern-day professions and an increasingly diverse legal function, the legal sector demands a more flexible approach to its qualifications.

So, are your less qualified employees receiving adequate preparation for a career in law today?

Where the existing provision for more junior legal roles is too broad, we can partner with you to create a new, more specific qualification for your employees. When you choose Kaplan Assessments, you will benefit from a team with a wealth of experience in high-stakes professional assessments. From determining the optimal qualification structure to an assurance of content validity through extensive industry analysis, we ensure each aspect is fit for purpose and aligns with your objectives. Plus, your qualification will be registered on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), so you can have confidence that it will be quality assured and fulfils all the necessary regulatory requirements.

What sets Kaplan Assessments apart?

Tailored to the specific needs and requirements of your legal firm, we can partner with you to create qualifications that truly make a difference to day-to-day standards. When it comes to high-stakes, specialised industries, like the legal profession, we recognise that the skill sets required to carry out specific roles are wide and varied - and that’s without the impact of constant change. A one-size-fits-all approach can no longer serve this rapidly evolving sector.

That’s where we come in.

Whether you have a clear vision or are starting from scratch, our flexible assessment and qualification solutions are shaped around the unique challenges or risks that you face as a business. Designed to drive organisational growth and promote the proactive development of knowledge and skill sets, our tailored qualifications are the solution you’ve been searching for.

If you are interested in partnering with Kaplan Assessments, contact us today to discuss your legal qualification requirements.

See all Insights