Top 15 Paralegal Skills to be best on the Job
To be best on your job as a paralegal you need to have certain skills and qualities. This post shows the skills to develop to be a good paralegal and succeed in your career.
But first …
Who is a Paralegal?
A paralegal or a legal assistant is an individual who is academically qualified, trained or experienced to assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services.
Paralegals perform various duties including handling confidential information, preparing legal documents, interviewing clients and witnesses, conducting research, and more. See detailed paralegal job description.
They work in different environments, helping attorneys with paralegal services.
To be best on the paralegal job, here are fifteen skills and qualities to develop:
1. Teamwork: Paralegals should associate with colleagues, legal associates, law partners and other professionals. They may also need to come in conjunction with people outside the law firm, such as clients and witnesses. This will help them a lot in their profession if they can consider continual interaction with others.
2. Communication Skills: Paralegals should be effective in their communication, especially when it involves written and verbal works. They should be able to interpret complicated legal issues and take them to people who could not understand the jargon. Understanding a specific language and precision in the law firm will help reduce the rate of wrong communications occurring between paralegals and lawyers.
3. Interpersonal Skills: Top-notch interpersonal skills may be needed to enable paralegals work competently with many professionals in the field. Those professionals may be fellow paralegals, lawyers, and different kinds of clients.
4. Good Judgment: Paralegals with patience skills have a better chance of making good judgment because of what they passed through many years trying to learn it the right way. The humble paralegals have a stronger ability to endure and at the same time learn from their mistakes.
5. Reading Skills: to be good on this job, paralegals should have a high level of reading comprehension. The ability to accurately sift out major points out of their reading is greatly needed. Paralegals should be able to quickly go through a document and understand the points therein to be able to communicate important issues to clients, lawyers, and experts that this may concern.
6. Computer Skills: When paralegals have a case they are managing, computer skills may be very critical. They need to know their way around Word Processing and spreadsheets to be able to carry out responsibilities efficiently. Other tools used and managed by paralegals to help facilitate daily work are shared calendars, electronic data management, and conference calling tools. They also need to learn how to file reports electronically with the courts.
7. Organizational Skills: For a law office to run effectively, the attorneys must be highly organized. Not all of them are organized, because even some of them do not care if they are organized or not. Therefore, it is the duty of the paralegal to always keep the office organized. This cannot be an easy task because some attorneys do not realize how disorganized they are, and it becomes hard for a paralegal to convince them to change the way they believe is the best. It is only paralegals with great organizational skills that can handle such a situation and make more money for the firm while they (paralegals) become happy.
8. Writing Skills: Paralegals are editors and proofreaders for attorneys, so they need excellent writing skills to excel. Litigation paralegals have the responsibility to draft legal memorandums, motions, pleadings, briefs, discovery, and more. Paralegals who master the art of vivid, concise, and persuasive written communication will definitely differentiate themselves from the others.
9. Cleverness: For paralegals to be clever, they need the ability to understand complex situations that may occasionally occur. They also need to be able to analyze and decipher many various facts and work out possible meanings from those facts.
10. Professionalism: This is very important because it signifies the whole aspects of paralegal profession. Many paralegals have come to gain reasonable recognitions from the profession. For paralegals to have a successful career, they need to understand the importance of professional and ethical sets of skills.
11. Research: Paralegals must become familiar with internet research and legal research databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. They need solid investigative skills in criminal, civic, and transactional contexts so as to help them to track down evidence, witnesses, documents, and medical records.
12. Problem Solving Skills: Paralegals should be able to find out complicated problems associated with their job, so they can explore alternatives and then implement possible solutions.
13. Litigation Skills: The present day paralegals in the litigation practice area take on the responsibilities of past junior level associates which include conducting legal research, interviewing witnesses, and preparing trial presentation. Paralegals must also be competent with legal research databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis.
14. Self Confidence: Paralegals should believe in themselves and their abilities. Their comportment and actions should inspire others to have confidence in them. They need the guts to be able to express their views and also ask questions at appropriate times.
15. Time Management Skills: Paralegals should be able to prioritize their work and make use of their time wisely. The skills will help them to be able to multi task a number of projects at a time.
If you are a paralegal who wants to be best on your job, then you need to work on developing the above skills and qualities.
Also, employers needing good paralegals to hire can include the above qualities and skills in the job requirements for applicants to meet.
This way, you will be able to separate those with the needed skills from the rest. Then you can pick the best applicant for the job from those with the required skills.
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