5 Ways Paralegals Can Further Their Professional Development
- Join A Professional Organization
- Take Advantage Of Employer Opportunity
- Seek Outside Knowledge And Experiences
- Upgrade Tech Skills
- Learn Another Language
A huge part of professional development for paralegals is continuing education for paralegals. Continuing education is especially important for individuals in the legal field because of its dynamic, always changing and high stakes nature. Continuing education improves job prospects and professional performance, so it is worth pursuing. Here are some key tips for paralegals seeking to develop professionally.
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1. Join A Professional Organization
Joining a professional organization is a smart decision for any professional because they offer their members all sorts of continuing education options, mentorship programs, networking opportunities and more. There are two major paralegal organizations in the United States – the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) – in addition to countless smaller, local groups. The American Bar Association also allows paralegals to be members, even though the association is, overall, more focused on lawyers.
2. Take Advantage Of Employer Opportunity
Many law firms recognize the importance of professional development for paralegals and provide opportunities to facilitate that development. Paralegals who are currently employed should be taking advantage of any continuing education or professional development opportunities offered by their employer, including training seminars, classes, degree programs and more. Students studying to become paralegals can do something similar by using any resources their schools offer to give them the skills needed to find and succeed in a job.
3. Seek Outside Knowledge And Experiences
Paralegals must look outside their own firms and professional organizations to improve themselves as professionals. They need to make the effort to learn on their own time by reading books, networking with others, learning new software and undergoing other continuing education for paralegals. Doing so will set paralegals apart from others in their firms or professional organizations and make them more desirable employees. Students can seek internships if an internship is not already required as a condition for graduating their college program. Professional paralegals can engage in pro bono work that sharpens their skills and offers them a challenge.
4. Upgrade Tech Skills
Tech skills will continue to be an important part of the paralegal role as law firms and their clients continue to implement new technologies in their day-to-day operations. Tech that is starting to see regular use in law firms includes mobile apps, cloud computing, new software and other digital technologies. Paralegals also need to be able to use industry-specific software, such as case management software for law firms (Clio is a popular option) as well as word processor Word Perfect, which still sees regular use in law firms.
5. Learn Another Language
Learning another language is beneficial in many professions, as the Huffington Post confirms, and paralegals are no exception. Learning another language allows paralegals to interact with clients, witnesses and other legal professionals who may speak a different language. As America becomes a more multilingual country, it should be easy to see why the ability to converse in another language is a useful professional skill. In some job markets, this ability might even be necessary, while in others it may simply be an added bonus.
All paralegals, no matter what stage of their career they are in, need to be pursuing professional development opportunities. These opportunities make them more marketable candidates for jobs and help them better perform their duties to their firms and their clients. Professional development for paralegals and continuing education for paralegals are opportunities that should always be sought out.