The paralegal profession is a hot career choice with many job opportunities. Many law firms are looking for paralegals, and their job responsibilities have expanded more than ever before. In the demanding legal world, it is important for upcoming paralegals to make themselves attractive to the best firms and ensure they find a position they enjoy.
Get a Good Education
Many people interested in a legal career look to the paralegal profession due to its easier education requirements. There is no need to deal with the time and expense of law school. It used to be that paralegals, sometimes called legal secretaries, could be hired based purely on experience or informal relationships with law firms or lawyers. They were considered not much different than any secretary.
This position has shifted dramatically in the modern employment landscape. Firms are demanding much more from paralegals these days, and they often hire paralegals in place of additional attorneys to save on costs. As a result, the legal knowledge and skills of a paralegal must often be on par with that of a junior attorney if they are to get the best positions. This can only come with a solid investment in education. While certificate programs are offered, it is better to get as much of a degree as time and budget allows, a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is preferred by most firms.
Find a Specialty
The law is a complex and broad field. Just as a criminal defense attorney focuses their studies on criminal law and litigation, a paralegal should also choose a specialized field if they want to excel. This goes together with education. Look for paralegal study programs that allow for specialization in fields of law or research interested fields independently. Employers will be looking for paralegals with detailed knowledge of the types of cases the firm handles.
The law is an ever changing and evolving field. Just as attorneys must keep themselves informed of recent legal changes and new laws and precedents, paralegals should strive for the same goal. Attorneys will expect their top paralegals to be aware of changes and possibly even research these changes ahead of the lead attorney. A paralegal can stand out in a firm by demonstrating they are always on the cutting edge of the law.
Get Familiar with the Technology
The legal field is becoming less and less about ponderous piles of heavy tombs and law libraries crammed to the gills with texts an army of lawyers and paralegals must sort through. The majority of important legal information is now offered through technology and databases. Firms may also have their own databases and systems for tracking case information and legal knowledge. Since legal research is often a primary responsibility of paralegals, knowledge and skills related to using this tech is vital, and employers will expect it.
Armed with the right knowledge and education, an upcoming paralegal can find a rewarding lifelong career. There has been no better time to step into this profession. Forget the stress and expense of law school, a rewarding legal career is within the grasp of anyone with the passion to pursue it.