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9 Paralegal Skills For Students Who Want To Excel In Their Career

Posted by Gail Armatys

Oct 23, 2012 10:45:00 AM

Gail Armatys, Co-Founder & CAO Gail Armatys, Co-Founder
Center for Advanced Legal Studies

Honing and improving your paralegal skills will benefit you today, as well as in the long run. Improving and practicing your abilities and proficiencies isn't just for working paralegals. In fact, as a paralegal student you will want to continually acquire and develop skills that improve job performance. Now, and in the end, it's about making yourself crucial to the success of attorneys.

Here are some of the most important skills paralegal students who want an excellent career should develop:

1. Prioritizing

The ability to multitask is a skill paralegals must hone. This makes prioritizing is vital. Paralegals typically have a lot of assignments that need their attention simultaneously and multiple clients who need a course plotted for their needs.

2. Thinking Ahead

Anticipating all road bumps and problems that may arise is a skill that helps paralegals flourish throughout their careers. Paralegals also need to add instinct and common sense to their assets for career success.

3. Communication

Whether you interview clients, contact people for research, write statements for witnesses, or schedule court appointments, most of a paralegal’s duties include talking and communicating with others. You are a liaison, you are the lawyer’s right hand, and expressing your thoughts clearly is essential.

4. Writing

Most paralegals are responsible for drafting pleadings, documents, and briefs both straightforward and complicated. Because writing is integral to the paralegal career, those who perfect it often find their jobs more lucrative.

5. Researching

Investigating legal research methods make paralegals adept at mastering internet research and learning to analyze case information. Paralegals need to track down records and investigating skills go hand-in-hand with technology skills.

6. Technology

Perhaps the most sought-after skill is the technological talent that is essential to the modern paralegal. As technology changes, so must the paralegal’s ability to master spreadsheets, databases, e-filing, presentation software, and more. If you are designated to make technology decisions for your lawyer’s firm, the right choices can bring a competitive edge to your marketability.

7. Organization/Flexibility

If your paralegal job is document intensive, it is vital that paralegals can classify and catalog, categorize and organize everything a lawyer needs. However, organizing well is time-intensive. Successful paralegals set aside great amounts of time to make their work flow smoother by organizing and making detailed duty lists. To stay organized, paralegals must be able to change priorities at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, being organized means managing different personalities at once and going outside of your comfort zone to fulfill all aspects of a job.

8. Teamwork

Not all paralegals work alone. Working under a lawyer may involve collaborating with a larger legal team like associates, co- workers, legal secretaries, partners, etc. It is vital to realize that groups like these may include people of more and less experience than a paralegal may have. Also, working with experts, clients and opposing lawyers peacefully is an indispensable skill.

9. Professionalism

Above all, the most important characteristic of an ideal paralegal is professionalism. Paralegals everywhere and paralegal associations both local and national have moved to have the profession formally recognized. As a paralegal, it is great to know your skill sets are in demand and valuable. Professionalism serves as a firm foundation to an excellent paralegal career. Understanding the importance of professional and ethical sets of skills allows a paralegal to excel in performing his or her functions.

Finally, just as it is a paralegal’s responsibility to understand the professional ethics and rules of the industry, he or she must also expand the skills and knowledge that supply successful, professional accomplishments of the paralegal workforce.


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Topics: career, technology, education and training

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