When I became a paralegal in 1984, it was very common for paralegals to sit at their desks all day with their headphones on and type a variety of documents such as motions, pleadings, and correspondence, dictated by an attorney via the Dictaphone. The role of the paralegal has since evolved from secretarial typists or transcribers to highly qualified staff members who perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.
Since the paralegal profession has evolved to include more substantive legal work, those wishing to become a paralegal usually seek formal training to gain the legal knowledge necessary to work alongside an attorney. But in order to really excel in the paralegal profession, there are several characteristics and skills that are important to possess and develop in addition to legal knowledge. After working as a paralegal, I went to law school and became an attorney and employer of paralegals, so I’ve seen first-hand the characteristics and skills that make a paralegal exceptional. Here are 5 things that every attorney expects from his or her paralegal: