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The Top Skills Of Every Successful Paralegal
If you want to become a paralegal, completing your associate degree is a great first step. Look for a Paralegal Studies program that offers a mix of hands-on learning and substantive coursework. When you graduate from an accredited and approved degree program, prospective employers will recognize that you are prepared for the rigors of the job.
You can further improve your chances of finding career success by working on the following seven skills:
- Organization: Being able to multitask is key for a paralegal. You’ll likely have competing priorities and will need to find methods to determine what needs your attention most and what can wait while you address higher-priority projects. Organizing your work and your time will help you be more efficient and more in demand in the workforce.
- Communication: Look for ways to hone your verbal and written communication skills. Much of your job as a paralegal involves back and forth with clients, attorneys and others. Law firms and corporate legal departments seek paralegals who are able to communicate clearly and precisely, and who are comfortable communicating with different audiences.
- Legal Research: For many paralegals, conducting research for attorneys represents a significant part of their job responsibilities. You will need to understand how and where to look for relevant information using traditional law libraries as well as technology tools designed specifically for legal research.
- Technology: Legal employers expect paralegals to be comfortable with a variety of technology tools. In addition to knowing how to use traditional office software including word processing, spreadsheets and databases, you will also need to know how to use technology solutions commonly used in the legal field.
- Strategic Thinking: If you are able to think strategically — exploring various approaches to a given task, analyzing and deciding on the best way to proceed — you will be well-suited to handle the demands of the paralegal profession and even to manage the work of other paralegals. Strategic thinking takes practice, but it can be invaluable in making you more productive and effective at your job.
- Collaboration: Some of your job responsibilities will involve solo projects and tasks. However, paralegals often work on teams with other paralegals and attorneys. If you are able to collaborate and work well independently and as part of a team, your efforts will likely be recognized. Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and leveraging other team members’ strengths can help the entire team succeed.
- Professionalism: Finally, the most successful paralegals are those who comport themselves professionally in the workplace. Professionalism is about more than just the way you look and dress — it also involves respecting deadlines, recognizing when you need assistance with something, and doing your best work on every task or project.
These skills all take some practice, but mastering them can help you thrive as a paralegal. At MacCormac College in Chicago, our Paralegal Studies Associate of Science degree program was designed to help students polish these critical skills. To learn more about our programs and to take the first step toward your future success, contact us today.