A Paralegal is a person employed by an accredited legal aid provider who has completed a training course in the relevant field of study in an institution approved by the Council of Legal Education.
Paralegals have way been useful in access to justice especially for the marginalized and vulnerable groups in Kenya, since they cannot act on their own, they trade their skills through the supervision of qualified Advocates. Paralegals are easily accessible in that, they live and interact with their clients, unlike advocates. Sometimes paralegals take on cases where the alleged perpetrator is in the same neighborhood as the paralegal, which endangers their lives. Referring such matters to paralegals residing in far areas is encouraged.
Charging fees for legal services rendered has never been synonymous with the paralegal profession. This is a voluntary service. Gifts or tokens can be accepted by a paralegal, but this is discouraged as well. Where a client insists on awarding the paralegal, they are to declare the same to the leadership of the Social Justice Center they are attached to.
Paralegals are encouraged to do due diligence in representing members of the community, however, it is unhealthy for them to get attached. Whenever that happens, the paralegal is advised to take counseling courses or fundraise as a group and hire services of counselors through their respective social justice centers, to assist them with debriefing exercises. No case is worth one’s mental, physical and financial health.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) not only train but also use Paralegals in different areas they reside, to provide legal assistance and education. Unlike lawyers, this is free and continuous.
In as much as they provide legal aid where need be, Paralegal work in Prisons is loudly notable as they not only help with legal education but also with reducing case backlog via follow-ups, referrals and teaching inmates to self-represent.