5 Paralegal Skills That Lawyers Look for When Hiring11 June 2019
The need for professionally trained paralegals in law offices is growing, but those with the right set of paralegal skills have the best chance of being hired. Lawyers have a set of five criteria potential candidates should meet in order to be hired.
The Job of a Paralegal
Many people ask, “What does a paralegal do?” In short, a paralegal is a legal assistant to a lawyer. This position can work in a law firm, the government or even a corporation by performing a variety of legal duties. They cannot, however, operate as an attorney.
The right training, education, and experience provide paralegals with the fundamental knowledge to succeed in this industry. Choosing a paralegal studies program that is approved by the American Bar Association is a great way to learn the skills and abilities that lawyers look for when hiring. The following is a list of the five major skills lawyers look for when hiring.
1. Be Part of a Team
One of the first skills you need for working at a law firm as a paralegal is being a team player. This is essential because a paralegal works with many different people on a legal team, including the following:
- Legal secretaries
- Other paralegals
Being able to work with a range of different people on a case is vital. If a paralegal cannot do this, they could be detrimental to the case and the company they work for. Teamwork is crucial for a successful legal case and paralegals are the backbone of that team.
2. Research Independently
Although a good paralegal is a team player, you must also be able to work independently. Usually, lawyers do not have the time to hold your hand or look over your shoulder during every aspect of a project. That means you will have to complete work and conduct thorough research on your own. Some basic duties you may be responsible for include:
- Conducting research to help lawyers
- Figuring out where to file a claim
- Getting signatures on the documents
- Drafting documents
- Deliver copies of documents to appropriate parties
- Submitting documents to court
Teamwork is key to the success of a legal firm or court case, but a great deal of a paralegal’s work may be completed independently. Being able to work under minimal supervision and complete your duties is a valuable skill that lawyers appreciate in a paralegal.
3. Communicate Effectively
The law can be difficult to interpret. Legal jargon and understanding it is key to working at a law firm as a paralegal, but so is being able to convey a concept or meaning clearly and accurately. Besides working side-by-side with other legal professionals who understand the language, you may also be working with clients who know nothing about the legal world. That’s why being able to communicate effectively is such a sought after skill.
There is also your own legal team you will need to be able to communicate with. That means being able to convey a message to various parts of the team and clearly explain your position.
4. Stay Organized
Being organized is one of the most important paralegal skills to have. On any given case, there are documents and data that need to be stored, organized and distributed. While much of that may be digital files these days, a paralegal still needs to know the location of documents and be able to hand them over to the appropriate people when necessary.
As a paralegal, it is usually going to be your responsibility to collect and manage information for the firm. This makes a case work more efficiently without losing any of the puzzle pieces. Someone who can contribute to the firm’s organization system can catch the eye of a lawyer looking for a paralegal.
5. Be Patient
Lastly, a paralegal works with people across all stages of a case. That means both lawyers and clients. Some of these people may be difficult to work with and it is the job of a paralegal to be patient and respectful in all interactions. You may have unhappy clients, frazzled colleagues, uninterested court personnel, reluctant witnesses and even intense attorneys to deal with on any given day of the week.
It’s important to remain calm and collected no matter what happens. Rather than becoming upset, you can take the initiative and continue working on the case. This not only helps the case and your team, but it also helps legal professionals value your skills and appreciate the work you do. Patience pays off in the end.
Do You Have The Right Paralegal Skills?
Building these skills is absolutely crucial to working in a law firm as a paralegal. Lawyers know what they need from you, and all you have to do is be equipped with the skills necessary to help the law firm manage its caseload. To learn more about our paralegal studies program and to build these skills, contact us.