Contrary to popular notion, the skills and effectiveness of a paralegal, and their potential for career advancement aren’t determined by how much paper work they finish in the office. These things also depend on how much they introduce themselves to communities and groups, and participate in symposiums and events.
One of the keys to the success of a paralegal is branching out and networking with other legal professionals. According to Robert Hrouda, Preesident of the National Federation of Paralegal Association (NFPA), paralegals should make it a point to connect with peers and colleagues to help augment their career progress. What are the possible benefits of networking and how can you make the most of it? Hrouda recommends the following actions when attending a paralegal event, in an article published on the Peirce Connection website:
1. Ready your elevator speech. Make sure to compose and prepare a short bio note on your head about yourself, basic professional background and previous work experience. Be proud and represent your institution– educational (if you’re still a student) or law practice (if you’re already a paralegal) well.
2. Talk to everyone. Try to reach out to a lot of people as much as you can. There are a lot of professionals from other industries, attorneys and even fellow paralegals like you who may have caught wind of opportunities in your area. Don’t be afraid to mingle, especially when you attend events hosted by the local bar or your company for paralegals in your jurisdiction.
3. Get involved. Hrouda notes that one of the great things about networking is discovering that the paralegal network is very supportive of one another. Hrouda said that alumni from his college would phone him just to let him know and other alumni of job opportunities in their current organization. The network would also be an avenue for the discussion of legal issues that are hot right now, as well as a place to get advise and mentoring.
Get out there and don’t limit yourself within the four corners of your cubicle. Involve yourself more as a team member of your company, learning as much as you can from everyday tasks and from working well with legal professionals and attorneys. Try to build your network too. It won’t hurt you and can help you gain more access to opportunities you may not hear of if you hadn’t branched out.