Thanks to its recognition as a highly-skilled and hugely helpful profession, the paralegal career is gaining in popularity and becoming more in-demand. A significant number of people are setting their sights on becoming paralegals because the job is rewarding and the career outlook is sunny. Many people desire a legal career without the time and cost of law school. Others desire to use a paralegal career as a helpful stepping-stone to becoming an attorney.
No matter what your motivations are, if you are considering a career as a paralegal, it’s important to get a clear understanding of what the job may demand. It is also critical to develop the skills necessary to both excel and ensure a successful career in the industry. Do you have these skills? Are you strong in some areas but want to develop others? Read on!
Skill #1: Organization
The legal profession relies heavily on the ability to effectively manage a significant volume of documents and data—both physical and digital. Many lawyers look to their paralegals to take charge of gathering, sorting, and storing all of the firm’s case files and documentation. Most law firms generate a substantial amount of documents, and paralegals should have the ability to filter through all these items, locate, sort, and categorize them as needed. This is a major responsibility and makes a law office run smoothly, ensuring efficiency when it comes to handling of cases and other business. The organizational skill of a paralegal has a direct impact on the productivity of an attorney, and is critical to the overall operations within a firm. In order to be invaluable to their firm, paralegals must have outstanding organizational skills.
Skill #2: Research
One of the responsibilities of every paralegal is to take the lead when it comes to trial preparation and research. Being successful in the paralegal profession requires that you know precisely where to go for any necessary information. Do you love the thrill of the hunt when searching for information? Then the paralegal career is for you! Note: Don’t worry if you don’t already know how to do legal research or how to find legal information, that is something you learn in paralegal training. Center for Advanced Legal Studies teaches its students how to be excellent legal researchers.
Skill #3: Computer Proficiency
Nowadays, paralegals go beyond standard word processing and spreadsheets. Technology is constantly evolving, and the legal field is making more and more use of technology in many areas of law. Strong computer skills are priceless for a paralegal, where often an attorney relies on someone else to be their go-to technology help. The field of law is growing ever-reliant on the use of computers, software, and digital devices, and sharp skills in this area could make you a highly sought-after paralegal. These skills can also be developed and refined in paralegal school and as you gain externship/job experience.
Skill #4: Communication
More than anything else, a successful paralegal is one with exceptional communication skills. The job requires interaction with people on a daily basis— interviewing clients, conducting meetings, and working with the attorneys and support staff within a firm. Paralegals need to communicate well and be precise to avoid misunderstandings or confusion. While excellent communication skills come naturally to some, others have to hone it through practice. Written communication skills are also very important. Employers seek paralegals who have strong writing skills, especially business/legal writing. Whether you already possess these skills or need to sharpen further, good oral and written communication skills are critical to your success as a paralegal.
To sum it up
All 4 of these skills—organization, research, computer, and communication—can be refined and developed as you receive paralegal training and gain experience in an externship or on the job. Be proactive and sign up for workshops that sharpen your skills and make you a more efficient and effective paralegal or paralegal candidate. If you possess these skills and also continually work to improve them, you will be a successful and sought-after paralegal!
Develop the skills you need to succeed as a paralegal at Center for Advanced Legal Studies. Contact us with any questions about our paralegal programs or career workshops by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800-446-6931. www.paralegal.edu