The Gazette: a digital resource for the paralegal

Experienced paralegals are familiar with the challenges and rewards of their profession but, for those new to it, the paralegal world can be a daunting one.

It is a common tale of the profession to feel as though you've been parachuted into complex legal territory, with stacks of files sitting on your new desk, each with no particular instruction except for a commanding label inscribed with the word 'probate' or 'estates'.

According to an article published in 2012 by the Law Society, the legal demands expected of paralegals are projected to widen, noting that there are now 'far more paralegals (over 300,000) in England and Wales than there are solicitors (approximately 125,000) and barristers (around 12,000) combined.' It was estimated in the same article that, according to recent research by Skills for Justice, 'the number of paralegals in United Kingdom is predicted to rise by 18% over the next five years'.

However, even with the increasing demand for paralegals across a range of sectors, there remains no precise definition of what a paralegal is or the role they fulfil. Yet the fact remains that paralegals are becoming increasingly central to the delivery of legal services in the UK and are increasingly finding themselves in the thick of a complex legal world.

Given the nature of the work, paralegals are often responsible for navigating through a broad range of tasks, but like solicitors, most paralegals specialise in particular practice areas. The work assigned to a probate paralegal, for example, can include anything from estate and tax planning, document management, proof-reading and research to fulfilling the wishes of a client's last will or directly assisting an attorney with the provision of legal help.

As an important member of the legal team, a probate paralegal might also be responsible for talking with family members, assisting clients with completing bank requests and insurance forms, meeting with charitable beneficiaries, conducting estate inventories, reviewing bank information concerning assets of the deceased, as well as placing Trustee Act notices in the London, Edinburgh or Belfast Gazette and ensuring proof of publication of those notices according to appropriate legal requirements.

With so many tasks and responsibilities to manage, and with other members of a firm depending on the paralegal to provide solid legal and administrative support, it is almost always required for a probate paralegal to have good resources, excellent organisation skills and a good working knowledge of all aspects of the probate process in order to be successful.

One terrific digital aid for paralegals in the UK today is the new Wills and Probate service offered by The Gazette.

Many people may know of the London Gazette as the official newspaper of record, and as the official journal of publication for deceased estate notices (under the Trustee Act 1925). The Gazette is where, as an executor, personal representative, administrator or trustee, you need to place a section 27 notice in order to ensure by law that you have made sufficient effort to contact all relevant creditors. The purpose of these notices is to ensure good practice, offering peace of mind for the client and protection for the firm.

Now The Gazette offers a comprehensive Wills and Probate service, which includes a range of features and functionality to support the busy probate paralegal. Features include online checklists, explanatory content, 'useful tools', and improved notice placement options– all of which will help navigate the paralegal through all aspects of probate.

The new Wills and Probate service also features the ability to register for a 'My Gazette' account, enabling you to: view all the notices that you have placed, all the notices that you have drafted, manage administrative privileges, save your favourite searches to your 'My Gazette' profile, and more. The Gazette is now also considering providing additional services for paralegals and probate specialists, potentially around missing wills, will trusts, other statutory publishing, and even workflow software. If there is anything that you would like to see on the site, please contact us at