We have a diverse and inspiring range of members...
RUTH LANGFORD, F.Inst.Pa, Paralegal at Wikivorce
HAZEL LOBO, F.Inst.Pa, specialist environmental law practitioner
Trish Coutts F.Inst.Pa, Paralegal Phillips Solicitors
RUTH LANGFORD'S MEMBER PROFILEThe Institute of Paralegals is a professional membership body that connects individuals with the shared purpose of providing professional legal services.
"Ruth is a Qualified Paralegal in England and Wales, a qualified Specialist Paralegal in Scots Family Law and am a Fellow of The Institute of Paralegals and proud to sit on their Advisory Board. In October 2015 she won the Jordan's Family Law award for "Family Law Paralegal of the Year". Ruth is the co-author of the Family Law A to Z and works as a Family Law Consultant with Wikivorce, a social enterprise which provides advice and support to members of the public on all aspects of family law. Ruth commented that "No two days are ever the same."
HAZEL LOBO'S MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
Hazel Lobo is a specialist environmental law practitioner, advising and training companies on how environmental law impacts their business and also lectures part-time on the distance learning Masters of Laws (LLM) course at De Montfort University.
Hazel came to law partway through her career, having taken a break to bring up her children. Her background in quality management systems led to opportunities in environmental management systems – both having a ground in legal compliance – and the discovery of a love of, and aptitude for, environmental law. She has run her own business for more than a decade now, and understands the need to achieve a balance between legislative obligations and commercial needs. She is passionate about the role of SMEs in the UK economy and the need for them to have access to reliable, cost effective advice about an area of law that affects many companies, but for which there is little provision in start-up training and information.
She is also a fervent advocate for alternative pathways to legal careers and visits schools to educate young people on the range of routes available to them. A firm believer in the value professional paralegals can add, she was one of the first Institute of Paralegals (IoP) members to gain her practicing certificate from the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) and is keen to promote and support the work of both the IoP and the PPR. She is happy to be contacted via either organisation to discuss the benefits of membership and to offer support and guidance to fledgling paralegals.
“Having come to law relatively late in my career, it was unrealistic to follow the traditional career path to either barrister or solicitor status. I already had a great deal of experience in environmental law and, on successful completion of my Masters degree, I was delighted to be accepted as a Fellow of the IoP. From my very first enquiry, I have been impressed with the level of, knowledge, support and guidance offered by staff at the Institute, and to their commitment to raising the profile and professional status of paralegals at all stages of their career. I was honoured to be asked to join the advisory board and have been delighted with the opportunity to give something back to my professional body – a body I fully recommend to all paralegals, along with membership of the Professional Paralegal Register.”
MICHAEL CONROYS'S MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
Following the birth of his first son in 2010, Michael sat in his JCB loading truck. He thought that he didn’t want to be doing this for the rest of his life. Operating machinery had already been a big part of his career up to that point, but he felt it was time for a change and set himself a target of a career change by the time he reached 40. This kick-started his drive to re-educate himself, which began with a six-year degree in environment and economics. During this first part of the journey he was still working full-time, and we welcomed twin boys into the world whilst managing his job and studying at the same time. Michael remembers night feeds with 2 bottles in one hand and a book in the other studying at 4am before going to work.
Knowing he wanted to progress into an environment-based role Michael started to make inquiries before his degree was due to finish but with little initial success. But he never gave up! As each avenue closed, he changed direction and eventually found a role as an Environment Advisor.
Michael soon realised how much influence the legal side of the environment would play in the role and relished it. Wanting to know more he found a distance learning course in Environmental Law and Practice. Michael has considered going on to become a solicitor however has decided not to pursue this option.
Michael is currently an Associate member at IoP, who will be a qualified member on graduation from his LLM, specialising in environmental law. He’s looking forward to where his paralegal career will take him in the future.
Michael commented “I enjoy being at the 'coal face of the profession' dealing with the legal aspects before it all goes wrong or has just gone wrong and a regulator is involved. I’d heard the role of paralegal and having done some research I found that it covered a myriad of different roles. I contacted the IoP and was pleased to be told that I was eligible for membership."
SHANICE BULMER'S MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
Mid-way through her GCSE's, Shanice fell pregnant at 16. Although she had always been passionate about law it seemed an almost impossible thing to do at that point in her life. When Shanice’s daughter turned three, she decided it was time to follow her dreams.
Shanice found that the Open University ran an LLB Honours course and started studying part time for two years. She started working for Cuff and Gough solicitors and it soon became clear that it was exactly what she wanted to do.
Shanice spent the next few years balancing working full time and studying whilst juggling motherhood. Shanice joined the IoP to be part of a community for like-minded paralegal professionals. She has now finished her degree and is excited to progress her level to Fellowship of the IoP.
Shanice commented “It’s been a hard and emotional few years but with hard work and determination anything is possible”.
Trish Coutts' MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
Hard work and dedication has seen a one-time office junior being admitted as a Fellow of the Institute of Paralegals.
Theresa ‘Trish’ Coutts, who has worked at Phillips Solicitors for 21 years, has gained her credentials to become a paralegal. She started work at Phillips Solicitors when she was 17 and Soon after joining the firm, she did an evening A-level law course at Queen Mary’s College in Basingstoke.
Trish progressed well and eventually became a legal secretary working in the Residential Property team where she found she had a particular aptitude to liaising with clients, while handling administrative tasks in a high-pressure environment.
Reflecting on her time at Phillips, Trish said: “I feel the firm has given me opportunities to progress. The work can be demanding at times, partly because of the high volume of work we deal with in the Residential Property team. The work can be full on while at the same time as dealing with the pressure of deadlines, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Trish commented “I have been a Fellow of the Institute of Paralegals for a year and feel proud to be a member of a well-respected professional body that has helped me progress my career.
In fact, I value very highly the career advice and training I have received through the IOP, which has given me more confidence and knowledge with the work I do. I also appreciate the free webinars, the daily e-news legal updates and the monthly New Law Journal which helps keep me abreast of changes and current thinking in my legal world.
I certainly don’t think I would be where I am now without the IoP”.
Virgilio Cervantes' MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
Virgilio Cervantes studied law at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Porto. Virgilio moved to the UK in 2007 with a background in Civil law and started his paralegal career by providing supervised pro-bono advice. He went on to achieve an LLB (Hons) degree from the Open University and became a Fellow of the IoP in 2018. Whilst balancing his studies to become a paralegal Virgilio worked at Heathrow Airport as a Ticketing and Reservations Officer and was responsible for ensuring compliance with IATA, CAA, ICAO and EASA regulations, standards, and recommended practices. This led him to complete a degree in international tourism at the University of West London which later influenced his passion for business compliance management. This paved the way for his paralegal career specialising in Data Protection law.
Virgilio worked for several organisations in the private, pubic and voluntary sectors specialising in risk and compliance. He gained a Data Protection Officer Professional Certification at the University of Maastricht and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in law at the University of Reading focusing on EU Data Protection and Privacy law.
Virgilio commented “The valuable support of the Institute of Paralegals, which I consider to be an amazing institution, is always happy to help their members. The IoP offered me unique personal development opportunities and access to a fantastic network of fellow members. Without it, I would not have got to the position I am in today”