Essex Uni law grad first over line to qualify as solicitor through paralegal shortcut

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By Alex Aldridge on

30 year-old narrowly beats gaggle of paralegals to equivalent means qualification that bypasses training contract


A graduate of the University of Essex who slogged it out as a paralegal for four years has become the first person to be admitted as a solicitor without doing a training contract under the new equivalent means system.

Robert Houchill, 30, graduated in law back in 2008 but only began working as a paralegal in 2010 after a two-year stint teaching English in Russia. His first position was at the Coram Children’s Legal Centre, before doing a year each at London immigration firms Wilson Solicitors and Gherson Solicitors. In 2013 he joined his current employer, national firm Bates Wells Braithwaite.

During this period Houchill did a part-time Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the University of Law, which he self-funded.

In July last year when the equivalent means route — dubbed the paralegal shortcut — was launched, Houchill put in an application to have the experience he had gleaned across a variety of practice areas count towards qualification as a solicitor.

On Tuesday, he beat a number of other paralegals who are about to qualify through this route, including Lincoln University law graduate Shaun Lawler, who is believed to be the first person to register for the paralegal shortcut. Lawler explained the process he had gone through in an exclusive interview with Legal Cheek last month.

Yesterday Houchill told Legal Cheek how he had been driven to follow this new path after he was unsuccessful in a first round of training contract applications.

Having taken a risk in self-funding the LPC, he said that he is “pleased and relieved” to have qualified as a solicitor.


Legal Cheek meets the first person to do the paralegal shortcut [Legal Cheek]

The Paralegal Shortcut: 29 LPC grads apply to qualify as solicitors without doing a training contract [Legal Cheek]