How Paralegals can ensure they are not breaking the rules around ‘Holding Out’

By Amanda Hamilton, Patron of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP)

Every paralegal should be aware of Holding Out, and no paralegal should ever do it. Holding Out is when the impression is given—either by inference or by omission—that a paralegal is anything other than a paralegal. Not all legal problems need a solicitor, but there are limits to what paralegals can do for their clients, with ‘reserved activities’ (which are out of bounds to a paralegal) defined by The Legal Services Act 2007.

Holding Out to be a solicitor when you are not on the Roll of solicitors may constitute a criminal offence – the Solicitors Regulation Authority could prosecute. So, paralegals should make it clear to any prospective client that they are a paralegal rather than a solicitor or barrister and it is recommended that any ‘confirmation of instruction letter’ sent to such a potential client, expressly states this, and makes it clear in layman’s terms, what a paralegal practitioner can and cannot do for a client.

Transparency and clarity with clients

From the first contact with a potential client to the last, the professionalism projected by a paralegal practitioner is vital. Keep all clients informed at every stage of the process and discuss possible fees with them before undertaking any work. Taking fees up front is not permitted. You should only invoice for work that has been done once completed and the fees have been discussed and agreed.

Managing a client’s expectations is also important. This may sometimes be difficult, especially if the client is expecting a speedy or certain outcome which has not come to fruition. However, it is always best to confront these difficulties head-on and endeavour to manage the client’s expectations from the start.

Membership of a professional body

Clients can find it reassuring if you have an affiliation with a professional paralegal membership body (such as NALP). Such bodies will have a code of conduct that members must adhere to. The knowledge that a paralegal has been rigorously checked before membership is granted, boosts your standing. It is also recommended that in order to offer legal services to a potential client, a paralegal should not only be a member of such an organisation but should also attain a ‘Licence to Practise’. This involves the member providing evidence of qualifications and/or experience in their specialised area of expertise. Professional indemnity insurance (PII) needs to be attained before such a licence is granted.

The Law changes rapidly (in some areas more than others), and so it is a requirement of senior members and those with a Licence to Practise, to provide evidence of 12 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) per year in order to renew their licence. This indicates to a potential client that there is a measure of commitment and passion about the work that you, as a paralegal practitioner, do.

There are many online CPD accredited courses but even reading up about new precedent cases can go towards the 12 hours CPD required.


Working as a paralegal can be a rewarding career choice whether you choose to work in-house or run your own practise. However, it is important to ensure that you understand what you can and cannot do, and that you are always transparent and communicate clearly with your clients. Getting the Ofqual recognised qualifications, joining a respected membership body like NALP, and, if appropriate, applying for a Licence to Practise are all ways to show that you are knowledgeable and professional and will provide a great service to your clients.


Amanda Hamilton is the Patron of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit membership body and the only paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its Centres around the country, accredited and recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for those looking for a career as a paralegal professional.


Twitter: @NALP_UK


LinkedIn –

Five Fantastic Lawyers™
This post was written by a legal author invited to publish on Five Fantastic Lawyers because of the high value associated with their work. If you'd like to register your interest in publishing really high quality legal content here, please get in touch via our Contact page
Share the Post:

Related Posts