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Center for Advanced Legal Studies Paralegal Education and Training
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Paralegal Blog

It’s a Wonderful Time to Be a Paralegal!

Posted by Katie Fridsma

Nov 26, 2013 3:01:00 PM

By Thomas B. Swanson, J.D.

Let’s take a look back in time…

During most of the history of the practice of law, legal documents were handwritten by skilled paralegals first known as scribes and later as scriveners.  Legal documents during this period were customized, and the quality of the handwriting, in addition to the content, was important.  In other words, legal documents were distinctive, in part, because the handwriting added an artistic quality.  Beginning in about 1900, this was to change in a major way with the introduction of the typewriter.typewriter for paralegals back in time

The typewriter offered not only much greater efficiency with respect to the preparation of legal documents, it also established a much greater uniformity.  The distinctive handwriting of the scrivener gave way to a new consistency in format and a greater focus on content.  The result was no less than a transformation of the practice of law, as well as the role of the paralegal.  The “Perry Mason/Della Street” era in the history of law practice had begun, and the legal secretary became the primary non-lawyer presence in the law office. 

A change in skill-sets…

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Topics: online classes, career, paralegal skills, education and training

5 Things All Attorneys Expect from Paralegals

Posted by Katie Fridsma

Nov 20, 2013 12:05:00 PM

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:

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Topics: career, paralegal skills, education and training

6 Things Every Paralegal Needs to Know about Trial Notebooks

Posted by Katie Fridsma

Nov 13, 2013 11:03:00 AM

By James I. Wiedemer, Attorney at Law and Center for Advanced Legal Studies’ Real Estate Law Professor     

I really don't want to go to trial without a litigation paralegal.  It's just too hard to stay organized and fight hard without one.  One of the key things a litigation paralegal does is "man" the trial notebook.  It's sort of like manning the main gun on a tank.  It's a key weapon at trial.  I’d like to share a couple of thoughts on good trial paralegals and good trial notebooks— the two, in my book, are virtually synonymous.

Winston Churchill once said of one of his key staffers:  "He knew everything.  He could lay his hand on anything.  He said nothing.  He had the confidence of all."  Paralegals need to be a lot like Winston Churchill's staffer.  Although they don't get to testify or present at trial in a verbal sense, nevertheless they are key fighters in the case.  They know everything, and they can lay their hand on any paper.  Here are 6 tips every paralegal needs to know about the trial notebook.

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Topics: career, paralegal skills, education and training

Why So Many College Graduates Are Underemployed...

Posted by Katie Fridsma

Oct 30, 2013 2:31:00 PM

...And One Possible and Practical Solution

According to a survey conducted by Reuters, “More than 40 percent of recent U.S. college graduates are underemployed or need more training to get on a career track.”  

The survey also discloses that more than 25% of these graduates have already enrolled in a Master’s degree program.  The perception that a master’s degree will satisfy the need for more training is valid provided the degree is skill-based; otherwise, if the degree is more philosophical in nature, the graduate might still need more training to gain a career.graduates choose paralegal school for practical skills

Another public opinion survey that was released by Northwestern University and published in The Chronicle of Higher Education stated that “American adults and employers want colleges to produce graduates who can think critically and creatively and can communicate orally and in writing.” 

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Topics: paralegal certificate, paralegal degree, career, education and training

3 Simple Steps to Build Your Paralegal Network

Posted by Katie Fridsma

Oct 23, 2013 12:21:00 PM

Having a network of professional contacts and colleagues is a huge advantage in today’s working world.  It gives you a support system full of people who do the same type of work you do.  It provides a group of knowledgeable people to contact if you have any questions, concerns, or need to refer someone or obtain a reference.   And we all know it’s easier to find employment or grow in the position you have when you “know people.”how to build your professional network for paralegals

But how does one build their professional network?  At Center for Advanced Legal Studies, we want our students and graduates to thrive in their paralegal careers, and that includes growing their professional network and always sharpening their knowledge and skill-set.  But that’s not always easy.  Maybe you’re like me, and networking doesn’t come quite as easily to you as it does to some of our more extroverted colleagues.  But everyone can make the conscious decision to pursue building his or her network.  Here are 3 simple steps to help augment your career with a strong network of legal professionals.

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Topics: seminars and CLE, career, education and training

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