Top Skills Attorneys Look For When Hiring Paralegals
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Top Skills Attorneys Look For When Hiring Paralegals

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Anytime you are job hunting, it helps to have some general skills including self-confidence, punctuality and motivation. When you are looking for a paralegal role, there are additional skills hiring attorneys will expect you to have.

Many law firms and corporate legal departments prefer candidates who can demonstrate the following specific traits:

  1. Effective communicator: As a paralegal, you will need to communicate effectively with a variety of people both inside and outside your firm or legal department every day. Successful paralegals are those who can share information with others in a succinct way, verbally and in writing.
  2. Organized: Paralegals who can successfully manage projects, along with their associated tasks and documents, are in high demand. Attorneys need paralegals who can be efficient, and who can help improve the attorneys’ own efficiency.
  3. Time-management skills: Paralegals often have many responsibilities competing for their time. Being able to multitask and prioritize your work is critical in helping ensure the firm meets deadlines and obligations to the court and to its clients.
  4. Self-starter: Hiring attorneys generally prefer paralegal candidates who can demonstrate they are self-starters, who are able to independently manage their work. Of course, you will have some oversight from a supervising attorney or supervising paralegal. Regardless, you’ll still be expected to complete your work — which may include handling a multitude of separate tasks — with minimal supervision.
  5. Team player: In some types of jobs, employees need to either be able to work well independently or function effectively as part of a team. Paralegals must do both. Law firms often use paralegal teams for legal projects. Even if you are the only paralegal assigned to a case, you’ll still be expected to work closely with (and cooperate with) attorneys, assistants, investigators and others involved in a legal matter.
  6. Patient: Being a paralegal can mean having to remain calm while dealing with frustrated — and often frustrating — people. Whether you’re faced with difficult clients, witnesses, court personnel or other legal professionals, you’ll need to demonstrate that you can keep your cool.
  7. Flexible: Sometimes, paralegals must show that they can be flexible and re-adjust their work on very short notice. If you support more than one attorney, you may need to adapt to each attorney’s needs and style. You may also have to drop what you’re doing on a moment’s notice to take care of something different.
  8. Detail-oriented: Successful paralegals are those who pay close attention to detail in their work. Whether it’s researching statutes or case law or drafting pleadings and other communications, double-checking work for errors, making needed corrections and meeting deadlines are “must-have” attributes for paralegals.
  9. Professional demeanor: Paralegals represent their firms and the attorneys for whom they work. Whether dealing with internal customers, external clients or court personnel, paralegals should present themselves professionally at all times.
  10. Comfortable with technology: Finally, law firms and corporate legal departments are increasingly turning to legal technology solutions for a range of tasks including researching statutes and case laws, filing documents with the courts, and managing documents and records. Successful paralegals are those who can demonstrate mastery with the systems and tools used on the job.

Whether you are looking for your first paralegal job after earning your paralegal studies degree or have been in the workforce for years, honing these 10 skills can help you find a challenging, rewarding position. At Generations College, we incorporate skills-based training into all of our associate degree programs. To learn more, and to explore our on-campus paralegal training in Chicago, contact us today.