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Many people believe they must hire a solicitor or

instruct a barrister if going to court. However, this

is no longer true. Since 2013 with cuts to legal
aid and the average person unable to afford to
hire expensive legal professionals, a new type of
‘lawyer’ has arisen; the McKenzie Friend and the
Paralegal. This article addresses the differences
between McKenzie Friends and Paralegals.

Going to court?
Ever thought of using a
Paralegal or McKenzie Friend?
By Craig Johnson, NALP Licensed Paralegal
and Professional McKenzie Friend.
The McKenzie Friend Ofqual qualifications for Paralegals.
Paralegals can do almost everything a
The one key
There are various types of McKenzie
Friends assisting with court proceedings. solicitor can do - with the exception of difference between
One is a Professional McKenzie Friend. what is known as ‘reserved’ activities.
A lot of Paralegals now attend court
a McKenzie Friend
This is usually someone who charges for
their services or someone who’s legally regularly to represent clients in small and a Paralegal is
qualified and doesn’t know the litigant in claim proceedings or smaller cases and act
as a representative if they belong to a
that a McKenzie
any capacity other than as a client. Most
Judiciaries only classify a Professional regulated firm which is a part of the Friend (Professional or
McKenzie Friend as someone with a Solicitors Regulation Authority. However,
it can be challenging for an independent
not) can be anyone.
recognised legal qualification.
Another type of McKenzie Friend is an Paralegal Firm to obtain the same rights. Whereas a Paralegal
agency worker, for instance a Mental Although most Paralegals with their own
practice have at least three years’
is a legally qualified
Health Nurse, Social Worker or a person
appointed by the Citizens Advice, who experience, Ofqual-recognised person who can
may not have any professional legal qualification, and a Licence to Practise -
meaning they’ve been vetted and proven
perform most of the
qualifications nor is charging the client.
Sometimes a McKenzie Friend is a competent - the judiciary will still treat same tasks a solicitor
family member assisting their child, them in accordance with the McKenzie
Friend Practise Guidelines.
can. They may be
sibling, parent, etc. throughout the court
case. Technically, a McKenzie Friend can If hiring a Paralegal, what do you need able to represent you
be anyone the judiciary finds appropriate - to know? Firstly, ensure they belong to an
organisation, like NALP, and they have a
in court if the court
and that person doesn’t have to have legal
expertise or experience. They are there to Licence to Practise. Secondly, check their allows, or if they’re
provide moral and emotional support, and qualifications. Thirdly, understand whether
the Paralegal is attached to a Law firm or
supervised by a
a second pair of eyes and ears.
if they are independent and can assist you solicitor.
through the court process.
The Paralegal On the other hand, you can find a list of
A Paralegal is different. The term qualifying McKenzie friends via The
Paralegal was originally generic as the Society of Professional McKenzie Friends
Paralegal Profession was unregulated until (SPMF) which vet and attain McKenzie
1987 when the National Association of Friends who are qualified to at least a A-
Licenced Paralegals (NALP) was formed Level/Level 3 in law. Other organisations,
and later (in 2003) the Institute of like the McKenzie Friend Organisation, For more information
Paralegals (IOP). Both bodies are self- have a variety of McKenzie Friends some or if you are interested in training for a
regulated membership organisations, with career as a Paralegal see:
qualified and some not; their aim is to
NALP being the only body to offer and
allow the consumer the widest choice.

excelle January 2020 53