Starting As A Paralegal? Remember These Fourteen Tips
Starting as a paralegal means many lawyers will rely on your expertise and experience to win their cases. This career may seem exhausting to some, but it can improve your legal know-how in the long run. Some paralegals decide to become attorneys, but many choose against switching careers. No wonder several experienced paralegals have well-established careers now and are happy within this profession. We’ve gathered some beneficial tips for students who wish to start practicing as a paralegal:
- Start planning earlier
Some ambitious individuals begin planning their legal careers since college. You should get familiar with your institute’s career counselors to receive their germane suggestions regarding your options. They’ll advise you on which employment opportunities are available for you in the job market.
- Remember your grammar
You should polish your grammar skills and sharpen your linguistic capabilities. Some people don’t approve of grammar mistakes in normal conservations. However, almost all legal documents must contain no spelling mistakes or incorrect grammar. You should be able to write in perfect English.
- Start networking
Networking helps you find a foothold in the paralegal profession. So, maintain a healthy relationship with your colleagues and join any paralegal association you desire. You can also pursue your dean’s or professor’s suggestion and find the right career opportunity. Networking with other students will enable you to start your job hunt before finishing school. You should also seek internships right after graduation. As an intern, you can make strong connections with people whose help you need.
- Hone your education
Your education shall constitute the foundation of your legal career. As a paralegal, you must pursue quality learning from some reputable institution. Many aspiring paralegals prefer seeking a Bachelor criminal justice degree for getting initiated in this profession. However, your major depends on the area you intend to specialize in. You may also consider continuing your education by seeking even higher qualifications as a paralegal. These qualifications elevate your chances of getting hired.
- Learn to conduct research
Paralegals should teach themselves how to perform legal research & law-related investigations. Also, it will help if you educate yourself on different research techniques needed in this career. You will find several online research tools at your disposal, and it will be a wise decision to learn how to use some of them.
- Don’t misfile documents
Paralegals must be organized and detail-oriented. They’re supposed to remember where every vital document is located. Losing or misplacing an essential piece of work can ruin your case preparation and reputation in the firm. So, concentrate on your responsibilities and don’t embarrass yourself with tardy work.
- Prepare your resume
It’s better to keep your resume traditional and stick with the conventional Time New Roman font on cream/white paper. Don’t have your resume riddled with spelling/punctuation errors or grammar mistakes. Keep it concise and relevant for maintaining the application’s effectiveness. Mention your past experiences clearly to highlight your worth as a suitable candidate. Don’t forget to read the resume and the cover letter – in the end – to ensure they’re conclusive, pertinent, and mistakes-free.
- Try going online
Nowadays, you don’t even have to leave the confines of your home to find the perfect paralegal job. Since many business-oriented institutions seek recruits via social media, you can create your profile on LinkedIn and rummage for different employment opportunities. It’s essential, though, that your digital avatar appears astonishingly well-prepared and over-qualified for possible employers. This profile shall attract many full-time and freelance options for you in this career.
- Get yourself certified
Many institutions offer voluntary certifications. Employers prefer hiring paralegals who have passed these examinations and have received some of these certifications. Paralegal associations – such as NALS and NALA – let you continue your education and even pursuing employment opportunities.
- Avoid calendaring errors
Calendaring errors often “out-do” missing a deadline for paralegals. Beginners in the profession must avoid this minefield, which you can escape only with experience. Scheduling clients’ appointments is a task that requires delicate handling and teaches paralegals the art of client management.
- Don’t avoid a position
The paralegal industry is riddled with competition, so you shouldn’t decline any opportunity to enter this profession. Are you waiting for the perfect employment option to turn up? Well, you must think about climbing up the ladder by starting from entry-level positions. You need experience; therefore, it’s reasonable acquiring it even with unpaid opportunities. Since this experience helps you expand your resume and furnish it with further qualifications, try to be humble with the initial job offers.
- Remember the deadlines
The American jurisprudence couldn’t become infallible thanks to missed deadlines! Journalists have found several cases where lawyers disappointed their clients by failing to find important documents before the deadline expired. People suffered from the carelessness of their attorneys, who relied on showing up with the required evidence at the last minute. As a paralegal, you must avoid neglecting deadlines since you don’t wish to be held individually accountable for the firm losing a lawsuit!
- Don’t give legal advice
Paralegals tend to be pressured by friends/family to give legal advice. Beware of this trap since the fresh legal acumen you possess isn’t ripe enough to be shared with the laypeople. Don’t let any half-baked, casually thrown-away consultation come back to bite you in the rear and harm your legal reputation.
- Don’t violate confidentiality
During your career, you’ll come across many hilarious characters whose stories shall amuse you. But it would be best if you did not ever repeat these stories – no matter how entertaining they may seem – outside the office. Keep your lips sealed since violating confidentiality can have severe legal repercussions for you. It might even get you banned from legal practice for good!
Paralegals have often been portrayed as a bunch of hardworking young graduates constantly bullied by their superiors. It isn’t easy to have an adventurous profession Rachel from SUITS enjoyed. But the career of a paralegal sure is tiresome and demands practice. You must be prepared to work long hours where you can’t survive with a 9-5 mindset. Just be mindful about the gossip groups and abandon the habit of relying on guesswork or intuition. The legal realm functions on rock-solid facts and verified evidence. So, wire yourself as per your new environment, wait for your time to shine, and keep practicing.