It’s a good time for paralegals and legal assistants, according to Bureau Labor Statistics data. Despite the heavy workloads associated with the job (legal support professionals bear the research burden for attorneys and are depressingly known to bury themselves in paperwork throughout the workweek), paralegals financially and psychologically compensated for their hard work.
The BLS reports that legal assistants take home an average median pay of $46,680 annually, with a job outlook that grows 18 percent on average. If that still isn’t news enough for you, Forbes also ranks the job of a paralegal as one of the most underrated jobs in America for its relatively low-stress and low turnover rate.
Fortunately, you don’t need to have a law background to become a paralegal nor do you have to have work experience in a similar line of job. As for educational background, you only need an associate’s or GED diploma to qualify for paralegal training.
Do you want to become a paralegal? Are you planning on switching to the legal support field? Meditec rounds up the skills and qualities that you must possess to make your transition easier.
Communication and People Skills. Paralegals should practice their communication (i.e. speaking and listening) skills as they are expected to interview potential clients and different type of people for their research. At most times, they may be asked to speak on behalf of the attorney they work for. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s job profile of paralegals, paralegals may also perform litigations and coordinate with various departments in larger law firms.
Research and Writing Skills. Devouring tons of information makes up much of a paralegal’s job scope on a daily basis. That said, paralegals should be adept at researching and creating written reports, research papers, documents and contracts for legal cases. This also means they should be trained in business and legal writing to able to express themselves clearly and in a concise manner, and to know cite sources appropriately.
Analytical Skills. Paralegals should be naturally inquisitive and should take things they hear or read with a grain of salt. They do not just collect and organize data; they also make meaning out of them. Thus, it is important for paralegals to develop and exhibit highly analytical ability for tasks concerned with legal research, review and interpretation.
Tech Savvy. More and more law offices are gearing towards paperless environments, thus requiring paralegals to understand key technology and new record keeping concepts and software. Paralegals should know how to operate the latest computers and mobile devices, and should be able to navigate legal databases without trouble. They should also know how to make use of office programs, and electronic forms of communications like chat and email.
The job of a paralegal is perhaps the best career option for people who wish to build a vibrant legal career, but do not want to handle much of the notorious pressure of having one. Being a paralegal is also a good stepping stone for aspiring lawyers.
Meditec, a premiere leader in career training programs for professionals across America, offers paralegal training to interested students. Meditec offers a career guide for professionals who are seeking to find a portable career at home. Download our free career guide or call our sales force for more information on your courses of interest.