If you are interested in a challenging career that brings you into contact with many different people, you may find that a paralegal career is something for you to consider. At the most basic level, a paralegal is a professional who is capable of taking care of advanced legal tasks at the behest of a lawyer. While they do not have the ability to give legal advice, their training means that they are far more than an office clerk or secretary. If you are curious about becoming a paralegal, you need to be aware of the training that the job requires as well as the attributes that are necessary to make you a success at this job.
This profession technically needs no training; it is up to the discretion of the hiring attorney who they choose for their tasks. While some law offices need paralegals who are simply capable of handling sensitive paperwork, other law offices require a fair amount of certification from their paralegals. Given the fact that paralegals can help their employers all the way up to the doors of the courtroom, more training in legal matters makes sense.
There are a number of different degree programs that you can choose when you want to enter paralegal work. For example, it is possible to get an associate’s degree in paralegal training from a two-year institution. However, many paralegals are coming to the field fresh from a four-year degree. With the numbers of lawyers who require paralegal assistance perpetually on the rise, you will find that the competition for spaces is very fierce.
The training to become a paralegal is extremely varied, and the more schooling that is acquired, the more detailed the courses become. There are courses that are geared towards protecting the privacy of the clients, on researching different law matters and on communication with legal officials. There may also be classes on working with laypeople and helping them connect with the attorneys that they are meeting with.
If you are interested in a career as a paralegal, you must be someone who is comfortable dealing with people on a regular basis. Consider whether you can remain calm when people are becoming very emotional and whether you can work in an environment that is rather notoriously high-pressured. If you want to become a paralegal, you must be a stellar communicator, both verbally and in written language. The more presence and calm you can bring to your job, the better.
A professional paralegal also needs to be highly organized. This job is extremely detail-oriented, and a great deal of a law office’s success relies on knowing what is going on at all times. There is no room for people who cannot stay on top of their work. In many ways, a good memory is helpful, as is a mind that can focus on minutia. Because law firms are such busy places, you will also discover that having the ability to multitask is essential.
A paralegal should always be mindful of the limits on his or her role. Although he or she might perform many duties that are identical to that of a lawyer, a paralegal’s ability to advise others in a legal matter is very limited. While the lines of this ability are determined by the state and by the lawyer’s office where the paralegal works, it is a line that should not be crossed.
If you are invested in becoming a paralegal, there are many options open to you. Many community colleges offer courses towards becoming a paralegal, and this will grant you the associate’s degree. A four year program earns a bachelor’s degree, which will put you at the top of the paralegals seeking work. Consider what you can devote to your education as a paralegal and move on from there.