The Institute of Paralegals is extremely proud of the diversity of the paralegal community
Michael Conroy A.Inst.Pa, Environment Advisor, Aggregate Industries UK LTDHe thought that he didn’t want to be sitting in a JCB for the rest of his life…
Shanice Bulmer Q.Inst.Pa, Paralegal, Cuff & Gough LLPShe started working for Cuff and Gough solicitors as Paralegal, and it soon became clear that it was exactly what she wanted to do.
Virgilio Cervantes F.Inst.Pa, Paralegal, Invicta ParalegalWhilst balancing his studies to become a paralegal Virgilio worked at Heathrow Airport…
Renato Colonna, F.Inst.PA, Principal Paralegal and Director, Tribune Legal PracticeHe describes starting his own legal practice as his dream job…..
Nicholas Ash, F.Inst.PA, Estate Planner and Director, Will & probate Services (Estate Planning) LtdAt the age of 41 he was made redundant, with no immediate prospect of finding a new job……
Paige Gouldthorpe, F.Inst.PA, Private Client Lawyer, Cozens-Hardy LLPHer journey into law began when she was just 17 years old starting as an Apprentice…
Dawn Gore, F.Inst.Pa, Associate (Senior Paralegal), Trethowans
Dawn was promoted to an Associate, becoming the first Paralegal in the Firm's 153 year history to achieve this status….
Jacquelin Parkes, A.INST.PA, Advocate and Paralegal
She knew that she would have to do everything she could to educate herself and hone her skills in order to break the ‘glass ceiling’ that threatened to stop her from achieving her goals…...
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 his journey he was still working full-time, and he welcomed twins boys into the world whilst managing his job and studying at the same time. Michael remembers night feeds with 2 bottles in 1 hand and a book in the other studying at 4 am before going to work.
Knowing he wanted to progress into an environment-based role, Michael started to make job 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 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 of the role of paralegals 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”.
Michael is currently an Associate member at IoP, who will be a qualified member on graduation from his LLM, specialising in environmental law. Michael is proud to be a paralegal and he is looking forward to where his paralegal career will take him in the future. The Institute is proud of Michael’s achievements in the profession.
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 task to pursue a paralegal career 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 as Paralegal, 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 Institute of Paralegals (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 of membership to Fellow of the IOP. Shanice commented, “It’s been a difficult and emotional few years, but with hard work and determination, I have proved that anything is possible”.
Shanice is proud to be a paralegal, and we are proud to have her as a member of the Institute.
Shanice commented “It’s been a hard and emotional few years but with hard work and determination anything is possible”.
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 Institute of Paralegals (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 is proud to be a paralegal and 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”. The Institute is proud to have Virgilio as a member and hope to continue to be a support for your future achievements.
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”
Renato Colonna's MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
Renato became interested in being a lawyer by accident, his career path was not planned and he began his employment at his local council assessing housing benefit claims. He eventually worked his way up to presenting social security appeals at the Social Entitlement Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal.
The Social Entitlement Chamber is the UK’s biggest court. It disposes more cases by means of a hearing than the civil and criminal courts combined. A social security tribunal is as legally rigorous as any court in the land. Social security law is also one of the hardest bodies of law in the legal system, described by lawyers, judges and academics as enormously complex.
Renato decided to become a social security law lawyer wanting to assist clients with their appeals at the Social Entitlement Chamber. He returned to education as a mature student. In 2013 he completed a GDL and LPC at the University of Westminster. He then self-funded the Professional Skills Course in 2016 with the BPP Law School.
Renato’s journey to becoming a paralegal was complete and he decided to start his own legal practice, which specialises in social security appeals. He describes starting his own legal practice as his dream job, it builds on his past work experience, academic and vocational training making him the paralegal lawyer he is today.
Renato commented “ I am proud to be a paralegal, and I am very thankful to the IoP for giving me a formal recognition to lawyers that do not necessarily choose or have the opportunity to become solicitors or barristers”
Nicholas Ash's MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
At the age of 41 Nicholas was made redundant, with no immediate prospect of finding a new job and needed to earn £2500 every month to pay the bills. Nicolas had worked in compliance in the insurance industry and hated the thought of going back to a similar role.
Nicholas’s brother, who was then a financial advisor, suggested he try Will Writing, his rationale was “we ask all of our clients if they have a will, we tick the box on the fact find and then do nothing about it”. He reasoned that there must be a need to have people who could write Wills and suggested that he researched it.
That was how he found himself on a two-day course with a national Will Writing organisation, at the end of which someone shook him by the hand and said “well done you are a will writer now”.
One of his first clients had a situation that was to say the least complex. Nicholas walked away from that first client meeting humbled but determined to do better, to learn and to grow.
That was fifteen years ago and today Nicholas now heads up Will & Probate Services, still a small company but employs 17 people. He is a well-respected figure in the industry.
When Nicholas was searching for the right qualification to give him credibility the IoP guided him towards a Specialist Paralegal Qualification in Wills and Estate Administration. This was an excellent practical course and is still the only academic qualification in the Wills sector that requires you to write a Will! Nicholas became the first person to qualify as a Civil and Commercial Mediator through the IoP. Both him and his business has been nominated in the national paralegal awards.
Since he took his paralegal qualifications Nicholas has gone on to teach six academic law subjects.
Nicholas commented: “Would any of this happened without the IoP - who knows, but it most definitely helped me. I remain firmly committed to the Paralegal Law model for running my firm and am proud to be a Fellow of the IoP”.
Paige Gouldthorpe's MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
Paige is a Private Client Executive at Cozens Hardy LLP Solicitors based in Norwich. Her journey into law began when she was just 17 years old starting at the firm as an Apprentice and was blessed to obtain legal experience covering all sectors of law. From an early age her love for Private Client law (Wills & Probate) was very apparent.
Once Paige completed her apprenticeship, she was offered a job in the Wills & Probate team and is still with Cozens Hardy eight years later. She describes herself as a very conscientious, empathetic and independent lawyer who has built up a fantastic case load and an even better relationship with her clients. Paige was highly commended Paralegal of the year south at the National Paralegal Awards 2020.
Paige worked very hard to achieve the position that she is in now and believes that the most challenging part of her career progression has been proving that being a 'Paralegal' holds a lot of weight and that Paralegals all across the UK are fighting to show that they are just as competent as Solicitors.
Paige commented “The Institute of Paralegals is a fantastic body which you can feel you 'belong' to. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to university and the IoP really accommodates all circumstances. Being part of the IoP really opens doors up for you and helps you meet enthusiastic, like-minded people”.
Dawn Gore's MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
Dawn joined Trethowans in 1987 as a junior secretary and in 1990 became the PA to a Partner in the Family Team. It was then that her interest in Family Law began to flourish. These were the days before even the term 'paralegal' was developed, but she was already being encouraged to undertake drafting of documents, clerk Counsel at Hearings and provide basic advice to clients.
In 1998, she started working for the then new Head of Family as his PA and in 1999, he encouraged her to apply to Central Law Training to study for the new Paralegal Diploma. Dawn passed the Diploma in April 2000 and became Trethowans' first Paralegal.
Dawn was immediately handed a Private Law Children Act caseload when a solicitor in the team left and has specialised in this field ever since. She has been fortunate enough to deal with some very interesting cases, some of which have been reported and are often quoted in legal text books, training courses and have become the precedent cases upon which Judges rely.
Dawn joined the IoP not long after its inception. At that time, there were only a couple of other Paralegals at Trethowans and she did not know of any others outside the firm. She wanted to feel connected to a group of individuals who shared the same experiences and where she could receive support and guidance from her peers.
Dawn was awarded Best Family Paralegal at the inaugural National Paralegal Awards in 2019 and won the award again in 2020 at which the Judges commented that she had demonstrated excellence to her clients and commitment to the profession. In May 2020, she was promoted to an Associate within Trethowans, becoming the first Paralegal in the Firm's 153 year history to achieve this status.
Dawn Commented “I am proud to be a Paralegal and feel that I have developed the role within Trethowans, the Firm I have been with for over 33 years, and stand as an example to others who have the drive and enthusiasm to progress from a secretarial/PA role into a fee earning role without the need to become a solicitor”
Jacquelin Parkes' MEMBER PROFILEPromoting, developing and representing the paralegal profession
One of the hardest challenges Jacqueline faced was having her first child, a beautiful baby girl, and watching her suffer from a brain haemorrhage at just 3 days old. Life as she knew it ended at that time. Jacqueline became a full-time carer for about 8 years. Yet, she always knew that she wanted to return to work at some point. So, during her early years, Jacqueline got her degree and other qualifications. Her objective was to prepare herself for self-employed advocacy work when she was older, as she knew that caring for her daughter would prohibit her from working a traditional 9 – 5 job. Most of all, she understood that as a black woman the odds were stacked against her. Jacqueline knew that she would have to do everything she could to educate herself and hone her skills in order to break the ‘glass ceiling’ that threatened to stop her from achieving her goals.
Jacqueline’s biggest professional accomplishment was turning her skills into a business that helps people to assert their rights and raise concerns in various settings. Becoming a paralegal has helped to be more effective as an advocate, as this role often requires a good understanding of legislation. Jacquelin is proud to support people whose voices are rarely heard and who would otherwise struggle to access legal support. As a paralegal, her remit is different from a solicitor, but her role allows her to help many people who would otherwise suffer without the support they need. Her paralegal work covers employment, disability, health and social care, and housing matters and is fuelled by lived experience. As such, she is committed to achieving positive outcomes for her clients.
Jacquelin’s advice to any up-and-coming paralegal is to know who you are and be your best, remain focused on your work as a black paralegal and carry yourself with dignity and self-respect as the Windrush generation, facing racial discrimination and other obstacles with the same courage that they did.