Successfully becoming a paralegal requires a certain degree of education as well as a strong desire to work in the legal field. For those interested, there is an abundance of material available to the public from countless venues, helping to guide the way in this process. However, despite so much available knowledge, there are factors that often go unrecognized and not widely discussed on the topic. Here are five things nobody tells you about becoming a paralegal.
Paralegal work is all about research and the preparation of legal materials for the supervising attorney. A day in the life of most paralegals is spent referencing legal codes, preparing documents, and performing other similar duties. This work is done continuously, case by case.
Those who bore quickly in such matters of unceasing research and typographical work are best advised to consider this when pursuing a paralegal career. It is often assumed that the paralegal is at the forefront of operations and regularly encounters excitement and intrigue in their daily work. Although at times this can be true to an extent, the reward offered by this career more often lies in the satisfaction of playing an important, yet low-key, background support role.
All attorneys are inherently driven to take on the largest volumes of cases possible before quality representation becomes an issue. Generally, the more cases an attorney takes, the more their firm is payed in the end. This undoubtedly has an effect on all staff, especially the paralegal.
When becoming a paralegal, one should be aware that the work demand can become quite high and there is no way around it except through hard work. As a result, the paralegal may need to put in much longer hours and a higher degree of themselves overall for the good of the firm and clientele. Though generally a quiet, calm vocation, the paralegal can certainly take on plenty of pressure when these busy times come.
More Knowledgeable Than Attorneys?
The attorney and the paralegal play two distinct and separate roles within a legal firm. One is a public face of representation, appearing in court and at public events. The other is slightly less heralded and more of a private, unseen function of the whole process. This sometimes gives way to a perception that attorneys are much more knowledgeable and intelligent than paralegals.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Attorneys rely heavily on the works and knowledge of their supporting paralegals. In fact, it is a regular occurrence that the paralegal’s knowledge on a particular subject far surpasses that of the attorney. At the American Bar Association website, this exact topic is covered by writer and attorney Paul D. Edger. Edger writes directly of his respect for the paralegal, stating that “paralegals actually know more about everyday tasks and rules than attorneys”. Any good attorney knows and acknowledges this.
Networking Skills Crucial
Today’s paralegal must be able to derive quality information in all sorts of ways. The faster and more credible the result, the better. Being able to exceed here requires an ability to network.
Even while preparing for becoming a paralegal in the future, you are well-advised to work on sharpening your networking skills as a whole. Foster and build relationships with peers and teachers. Learn all of the ways that these people harvest and apply information in the field. In the end, these relationships and the ability to network will greatly boost the paralegal’s ability to be successful.
Multiple Avenues to the Job
Becoming a paralegal is not a process confined to some singular set of requirements. There are several ways to become qualified. One popular route is through directly earning a college degree majoring in paralegal science. An Associate’s or Bachelor’s will typically satisfy educational requirements.
Another route to qualification can be taken through a combination of past education and a new paralegal certificate. Perhaps you have an Associate’s in some other, irrelevant major, but now want to work towards a paralegal degree. The paralegal certification allows the inclusion of this past education into consideration for the paralegal requirements. A paralegal certificate can then be sought so as to complete the entire history of educational accomplishments and redirect it back at paralegal science in particular. Directly pursuing a paralegal degree is not required here, contrary to popular belief.
These are five often overlooked factors in becoming and working as a paralegal. Despite any shortcomings though, this career is an outstanding choice for those well-suited to the work. For more comprehensive information on working as or becoming a paralegal, visit the American Bar Association at.