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Paralegals and the Impact of Continuing Education

Posted by Gail Armatys

May 15, 2013 10:43:00 AM

 

Education doesn’t stop after obtaining a job. Most career paths require and benefit from continuing education. The paralegal profession is one of these careers. 

As a paralegal, you still need to keep learning. With different cases leading to new laws and updated information every day, you need to keep up. Attending continuing education workshops and seminars will help you stay on top of these issues and assist your attorney in completing work in a better way.

Not only are seminars related to legal topics important but continuing education subjects related to professional conduct and presentation are more than important to advancing any paralegal career.  In short, as a paralegal, such matters are crucial to your success and growth. 

Continuing Professional Development Throughout Your Career

Whether you’re currently working as a paralegal, have been out of practice for a while, or even if you are in the midst of your paralegal education, you should attend continuing education courses to keep moving forward.

In fact, your current or future employer might require you to attend continuing education seminars.  Or, if you are a certified paralegal, you will be required to maintain a certain number of CLE credits The number of required credits may vary by state and paralegal association.  

For example, National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offers two paralegal certification credentials.  The PACE Certification exam is designed to be used as a "standard to guage the competency level of experienced paralegals."  This exam requires 12 Hours of Continuing Legal Education each year to maintain certification. The CORE Certification is for entry-level paralegals and requires 8 Hours of Continuing Legal Education to maintain certification. 

No matter where you are in your paralegal career, you should be self-motivated to continue to learn.  Find topics that you have an interest in, that are specific to your area of practice, that will enhance an important skill, or that will help you develop your professional attributes.

Communication Workshops Boost Paralegal Skills

Center for Advanced Legal Studies offers continuing education in a variety of important and general areas including workshops that enhance your presentation and communication skills.   (paralegal.eventbrite.com) Topics such as communication and presentation seem pretty basic, but they are subjects that employers have indicated in our surveys to be as important or more important to them as a paralegal's legal knowledge and understanding.

 

Communications Workshop at Law Firm

Often, excellent communication and presentation skills help paralegals optimize their standing in a firm or with their employer and with clients.  As a paralegal, becoming more confident in these areas will highten an employer's awareness of your abilities and enhance the impact you will have on the growth of the firm. 

   

Combine your initiative to learn and grow with legal knowledge and professional communication skills/attitude and your value increases immediately.  That's why it's never too early to begin learning; during your education and as your career matures.

The Job Search and Continuing Education

Participating in continuing education sessions is also helpful when looking for a new paralegal job. This shows enthusiasm for the paralegal field, interest in growth, and initiative.  How? 

Changes in the Law

New bills and statutes are passed every day, changing established laws. One of the best ways legal professionals can stay updated is by taking courses and staying on top of these changes. In order to assist lawyers, it is your job to give correct and relevant information. You may even be able to inform your attorney about the status of a new law before he/she is aware of it.  Impressive!

Career Progression

As a paralegal, you have an important set of privileges and responsibilities. To progress in your career, you need additional information.  This will give you an edge over others. Specific knowledge and understanding might also be required before you’re permitted to work on some cases and/or with certain firms or corporations.  

Competitive Edge

Paralegals who are dedicated to obtaining continuing education find that increased knowledge is directly related to growth and opportunity. The more understanding gained, the greater your confidence and contribution. New skills and insight might be the difference between a favorable and unfavorable verdict for your client, an opportunity for promotion, or the chance for new employment.  Armed with a desire to continually learn and improve, and a record indicating involvement in continuing education, the paralegal competing for a certain opportunity will generally win the contest.

Lastly, lawyers are required to complete continuing education credit every year.  Good and successful employers value education and will normally encourage and often require continuing education of their paralegals.  Your participation in gaining knowledge through continuing education will not only benefit your employer, but it can increase your job satisfaction and spur the growth of your career.

Center for Advanced Legal Studies offers continuing education workshops and seminars find out more by going to http://paralegal.eventbrite.com.   For more information on our paralegal programs and to receive a free brochure go to http://www.paralegal.edu/

Gail Armatys, Paralegal School Co-Founder & CAO

Gail Armatys, Co-Founder & CAO

Center for Advanced Legal Studies

 

   

Topics: certification

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