Lawyers and paralegals have different ways of thinking, and because the paralegal profession is relatively new, lawyers often have trouble understanding how best to utilize the skills of a paralegal. The most important way for a paralegal to establish a good working relationship with lawyers is to communicate every thought as clearly as possible. Communication is even more important for paralegals than for lawyers because lawyers can assume, without being reprimanded, that all their personnel are on the same page. It’s the responsibility of the legal assistant to completely understand the information passed along from lawyers.
Another important point is a bit of general advice for any workplace. A professional relationship isn’t the same as a personal relationship. Establishing good relations with superiors in the workplace requires a much different approach than befriending those people. In fact, managers of law offices cite this mistake as being the cause of the complete unraveling of a work environment. When lawyers and paralegals have trouble separating personal interests from professional matters, the working relationship suffers.
How to Impress Lawyers With Great Paralegal Work Habits
The paralegal profession is somewhat new, and many older lawyers have trouble working with non-lawyers in their field. Lawyers have professional training, and the way they think is essentially analytical. They absorb as much information about a case as possible, and when they understand all the events and details, they break down that information into a plan of action. Paralegals, on the other hand, receive training that prepares them to support lawyers in their jobs. Paralegals don’t have the same analytical way of thinking as lawyers, but they do have the instincts to react to situations in a law office.
To gain the trust and respect of lawyers, paralegals must be able to anticipate what a lawyer is going to want. Because the lawyer is focused on the case and not thinking about what’s going through the paralegal’s head, he or she says something once and assumes that the paralegal understands what was said. At this point, the paralegal needs to speak up and let the lawyer know what part of the assignment is unclear. Otherwise, the paralegal is likely to make mistakes and be blamed for them, making it more difficult to establish a good relationship.
Responsibilities, Rewards and Challenges for Paralegals
While lawyers are responsible for the creative thinking behind court cases, their legal assistants are responsible for preparation, logistics, obtaining affidavits and other forms required for court cases, as well as general duties in a law office. The best way that you can build and maintain a great working relationship with lawyers is to perform these duties as faithfully as possible and to make sure that all of your supervising lawyers understand what your paralegal training has taught you. If you come across as being persistently thorough in your communication, the lawyers in your office will come to know you as a professional and dependable assistant.
The paralegal career choice is one in a rapidly growing field with exciting rewards and responsibilities. Not only is it a reliable source of income, it offers many opportunities to meet important people in the court system. While it’s not possible to win everybody over right away, with consistent professionalism, you can establish a reputation for being a sharp and effective employee.