The Association of Lawyers (The Association of Lawyers and Legal Advisors limited by guarantee) was formed on 25th April 1996 as a ‘professional accreditation society’ of members who operate in several defined, but narrow, area of law, called a discipline. Such as Conveyancers, claims specialists, company formation agents and professional willwriters.

Members also include professionals whose day to day work involves them in understanding and applying generally high levels of narrow areas of law. Such as Police officers, medical professionals who handing drugs or deal with mental health act patients, and care home managers.

Accreditation of members has been almost always been performed by barristers who have special understanding of the discipline, though in some areas of law, there are other types of accrediting officers.

This accreditation, by an established expert in the discipline, enables the member to satisfy questions from their client about their qualification to practice, and to give security to their clients regarding their level of expertise, in so far as that narrow area of law in which their accreditation applies.

The Association's accreditation decisions are covered by professional indemnity insurance, making it safe to rely upon.

JOINING

Members join the AOL in the first instance on the basis of a self declaration (as regards that aspect of their life that involves them providing legal services or legal advice).

A new member must be able to justifiably certify that they have undertaken relevant workplace study, workplace learning and practice, and/or have attended formation education leading to the levels of knowledge and practice and experience they posess today.

New members must apply for accreditation within a reasonable period of time after joining the Association.

GRADES

Most members have many years of experience in their field of expertise, through their employment or business, which has given them knowledge and expertise that can be accredited at one of the key levels.

Student members are those who are in the midst of a formal course of study in a subject, such as graduate engineers, architects etc., that involves a significant level of legal knowledge. Members joining in this situation are either recognised as Student (Student.LLA) members in the process of pupillage or study) who wish to be a member of the AOL during that period. Accreditation, subsequently then combines their successful graduation with a period of work practice.

Or if a member who is studying is also working or practising whilst studying, they join as an Associate (Assoc.LLA) members.

An Associate member (Assoc.LLA) is someone who is already providing some level of legal service (i.e. work or a service that involves or relies on giving legal advice). An Associate is self certifying that he is sufficiently knowledgeable to be safe in his or her narrow area of law, but has yet to be put to the accreditation test.

ACCREDITATION

When an Associate or Student feels they are ready to be accredited, they fund that process, which will involve them dealing with a barrister operating in that area of law from the Association’s accreditation panel.

If a member is aware of a barrister or other appropriate person who is prominent in their field, then the Association seek to arrange for that prominent specialist to conduct the accreditation - who then signs off the resulting accreditation certificate.

Following successful accreditation the member is elevated either to Licentiate (LLA) or Fellow (F.LLA).

The test for accreditation as a Licentiate (LLA) is that a client receives the same level of knowledge and practice from the member - in that specific area of legal activity or legal advice, as they would reasonably expect to receive from a general Solicitor.

The test for accreditation as a Fellow (F.LLA) is that a client is likely to receive a greater level of knowledge and practice from the member - in that specific area of legal activity or legal advice - than they could reasonably expect to receive from a Solicitor.

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