Succeeding as a paralegal

Paralegal work is one of the fastest growing fields in the legal community and is crucial to the functioning of any law firm. So what is a paralegal? Paralegal is the title given to someone who assists a lawyer in their practice of law. A paralegal doesn’t have to be formally qualified, and usually helps with legal research and the preparation of documents relating to litigation. A paralegal, although often not formally trained, is a great way for those studying law – or those who don’t want to study law but are interested in the legal system – to enter this work sector.

If this sounds appealing to you, and you’re considering a job as a paralegal, having these skills and attributes will help you secure paralegal jobs.

–          Organisational and multi-tasking skills. Most law work is document intensive, and keeping all written, digital and online communications in order and organised is essential to a structured and successful case and office.  Also, paralegals will be called on to do a variety of jobs, so juggling different types of tasks that will need doing at the same time is essential.

–          Research skills. A large part of paralegal work involves legal research, whether that be into past cases, case facts or background information. Having competent computer and internet skills are essential, as is the ability to use legal databases.

–          Written and communication skills. It is essential that paralegals are able to write in a clear, concise and persuasive manner as they will be called upon to draft a number of different legal documents. Other interpersonal communication skills are also key, as paralegals will interview clients, talk with experts and spend a large part of their day organising and communicating.

–          Attention to detail. Paralegals are often called upon to do fact checking, document analysis and a number of other ‘double checks’. Attention to detail, therefore, and meticulousness are sought after characteristics in a paralegal.

Paralegal work is diverse and varied, and there are a number of different avenues that those interested in paralegal work can go down. A majority of paralegals are employed in law firms, but there are a number of other government, business and non-profit corporations that also employ paralegals on their teams.

Also, while it is difficult to transfer many qualified legal careers across borders, because there are no formal qualifications required of paralegals, paralegal work is easily undertaken in a number of countries. Those with paralegal experience in Sydney, for example, will not lack the qualifications to apply for London law jobs in the paralegal field.

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