What are the different paralegal qualities I should have? That’s a question that most aspiring paralegals ask themselves when they start school. They want to know if they have what it takes to succeed as a paralegal and stand out among other students. Paralegal jobs will be increasing by 17% in the next 10 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so students who have been considering a paralegal career will have many opportunities. There are qualities that make a great paralegal stand out from the pack.
Understanding of the Law
A paralegal doesn’t need to have as much knowledge as a lawyer, but they must have a basic understanding of the law and its basic requirements for cases. A lawyer will guide the paralegal, but the student must understand the basic principles and history behind many of the laws.
Computers are used for most research assignments. Paralegals must be able to write reports using computer software and build presentations for the lawyer or the client. The paralegal will often have to share responsibilities with the legal secretary for keeping track of the lawyer’s schedule. Electronic organizers and calendars will be used for that purpose.
Exceptional Reading Skills
When researching old cases, the paralegal will need to have exceptional reading skills. The paralegal must be able to apply critical thinking and analytical skills to the cases being researched. Mistakes or missing cases can lose a court case very quickly. A paralegal must be observant and be able to do impeccable research.
Reading comprehension is only one building block of a good researcher. The paralegal must be able to summarize important points of the research findings. He or she must be able to communicate the important points to the lawyer or the client. The paralegal has to narrow down the essence of the research into a report that will benefit the case.
When a potential paralegal student is asking what are the different paralegal qualities I should have, this should be at the top of the list. An inherently disorganized person will have difficulties being a paralegal unless they can become organized at work through practice and necessity. Cases, law books, citations, reports and files must be kept extremely organized. The paperwork for a case file needs to be kept in order. Filing procedures and deadlines cannot be missed. An entire case can hinge on the organizational skills of the paralegal.
Lastly, the paralegal must have solid ethics. A case involves details that cannot be shared outside the lawyer’s office. The paralegal can’t gossip to friends or family about a case involving a client. There are other ethical legal requirements for paralegals. Many law firms will send their employees to ethics training classes to be sure they understand the intricacies of the ethics surrounding the law.
These are the personal qualities that a student needs to understand before entering into school to become a paralegal. An education can only provide so much of the knowledge required to be a successful paralegal. The basic personal qualities of the individual must be assessed to find out whether a paralegal career is the right path. The potential paralegal student should be able to answer what different paralegal qualities should I have now.