Success as a paralegal will depend on the skills a person develops and brings with them to the workplace. The more they can contribute, the more effective their attorneys will be in defending clients, and the more valued they will be to the firm. The ability to demonstrate these skills will also determine a job candidate’s competitive edge. Here are some of the top traits and skills employers look for in solid paralegals.
Paralegal Skill: Organization
A paralegal must literally manage piles of information on a daily basis. Reports, communications, and various documents related to different cases have to be appropriately filed away, and in the busy environment of a law firm, that can be a challenge. Many documents are also time-sensitive and will need to be on-hand during trial and trial preparations. This is why it is also important that paralegals are able to quickly locate all the materials that pass through them.
Paralegal Skill: Research
Paralegals must have sharp research skills and be prepared to look up news stories, legal precedents, constitutional provisions, and other information that would be relevant to a case. Paralegals should be familiar with large databases and how to navigate them, such as LexisNexis and Westlaw. Verifying sources will also be required to prove the validity of a given resource.
Paralegal Skill: Computer Proficiency
Computer skills are critical in case management. Word processing and developing spreadsheets are staple tasks in carrying out a paralegal’s responsibilities. Paralegals are responsible for using and managing other tools to help facilitate daily work, such as electronic data management, shared calendars, conference calling, etc. Paralegals will also need to learn how to file reports electronically with the courts.
Paralegal Skill: Writing and Communication
Paralegals need to be excellent communicators. They will be required to quickly draft letters, summations for trials, and other legal documents. Paralegals can expect to communicate with attorneys, clients, witnesses, court personnel, and other professionals regularly on the job in writing, over the phone, and in person. Effective writing also includes the ability to self-edit and produce work that is high-quality writing with minimal errors.
Paralegal Skill: Analysis
One of the most important skills of a paralegal is the ability to think critically and analytically. Critical thinking is in part the ability to infer information from provided materials. The ability to find direction in research, discover helpful leads from the clues provided, and follow up meaningfully on research will be of great use throughout a paralegal’s career.
These are skills that will either be taught or reinforced while studying for a paralegal associate degree. Individuals aspiring for a career in the field of law can also earn part of their paralegal degree online through MTI College’s OnlinePlus delivery format. To learn more about the training for a career as a paralegal, contact an MTI College Admissions Counselor.