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4 Reasons Paralegals Should Improve Their English Skills

Posted by Gail Armatys

Apr 22, 2013 11:20:00 AM

If you already have your bachelor's degree, you and your paralegal career will benefit by refreshing and enhancing your English skills. If you are getting an associate's degree in Paralegal Studies, English Composition is required.That's the long and short of it. As it happens, there are many good reasons to take and enjoy English and continually improve your skills in this area. Here are just four.

1. To Express Yourself - clearly!

The skills you learn in English will allow you to better express yourself in writing. From  drafting motions, completing deposition summaries, composing correspondence,  summarizing research,  recording interrogatories,  noting pleadings, taking memos,  or creating wills, there is just no getting away from writing. And what you say in print must be accurate and understandable, so that all concerned parties are on the same page (sorry about that).

And what if you want a raise? How will you write a compelling, persuasive missive? One that details the many ways you are invaluable and describes the hours and hours you spent on that rich new client's case comforting her as she sat crying in her cafe latte,  thus ensuring your boss upgrades your salary, (maybe even retroactively), if you don't know how to write effectively? English class.

2. To Assist the Lawyer

Your job as a paralegal is to aid the lawyer and help her to do her job more effectively. Clean, concise writing will make her job easier, maybe even more pleasurable,  and she won't be stressed out having to read incomplete sentences, misplaced modifiers or creatively spelled words. And, trust me; these things are very stressful to read! They can cause an average reader to pull out his eyebrow hair, scratch at his wrists, or at the very least, be forced to take deep, cleansing breaths. Also, if you can efficiently capture the salient points of any document, or present your findings in a logical, easy-to-read manner, your lawyer's valuable time will be saved and she will be appreciative. Refer back to the last point on getting a raise.

3. To Represent the Law

Even more important than that, though, is what you write may make its way to the client and there, your writing is acting for the lawyer or the entire firm. So it must reflect the highest level of clear communication in a professional, effective manner.  Excellent grammar, correct spelling and efficient prose say to the client: this lawyer (or at least her staff) knows what she is doing and I trust her. Sloppy writing, of course, has the opposite effect.

4.  To Better Yourself

Coming to and paying attention to your English skills in a class will help you to not only succeed in the legal profession, it may even turn you into a better you. Here, you will be critical of the analogized work of professional essay writers, considering how you might have done it better. Here, you will come up with new and interesting ideas, organizing and presenting them in a cohesive manner. Here, you will reflect on the work of some of the most respected writers of literature in the English language, tossing their ideas and perspectives around, trying them on for size, considering how they fit your world and your knowledge of life. Here, you can't help broadening your horizons, learning more about different cultures, places and times. And all of that is a wonderful thing.

You will take with you, out of English class, a wider knowledge of the human condition and the expression of it.  Who knows? You might just decide to add to the literary cannon and become a writer yourself!  Hey, you never know!

See you in English class.

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Joy Oden, Center for Advanced Legal Studies Faculty 

Blogger, Joy Oden teaches English Comprehension at Center for Advanced Legal Studies in both the traditional and online classroom. She writes about her students because she is continually amazed at their desire to change their lives, their ability to overcome difficult circumstances,  and their determination to help others.

Topics: career, education and training

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