What Qualities Make A Good Paralegal
Maybe you’re trying to decide whether you are a good candidate for a paralegal program. You may be asking yourself, “Do I have what it takes, or do I have the capacity to learn those things that I need to learn to become a valued member of a law firm?” There are many qualities a good paralegal must possess, but during my research I found four (in no particular order) to be particularly helpful.
1. Interest in law. Many of us have either stood on the sidelines of or been directly involved in a legal issue. A legal problem causes us to seek answers, and to admire those legal professionals who are able to assist us or others in resolving an issue. We then want to duplicate that experience from the other side, as the problem solver.
2. Good communication skills. Paralegals collect and analyze facts. They have to be good at asking the right questions to get at the essential facts of a client’s legal matter. That includes being an excellent listener, detailed note taker, and evaluator of non-verbal communication. A good deal of most paralegals’ time is spent drafting documents that argue a client’s stance in a case for the court, called pleadings. A lot hinges on paralegals’ ability to communicate, not only with firms’ clients, but with paralegals’ supervising attorneys.
3. Ability to manage documents and time. Litigation usually involves a lot of documentation, which paralegals are charged with organizing, so that an attorney can locate any particular document in a flash. Document organization systems used will vary in sophistication. A great paralegal keeps apprised of the latest and greatest ways to organize documents and data, and takes responsibility for that continuous task. Besides keeping track of important paperwork, paralegals keep attorneys on track to meet critical legal deadlines and to never miss a court date or be late. Either event could have detrimental results for client and attorney.
4. Patience. Clients get frazzled when involved in their own litigation. Unfortunately, paralegals often bear the brunt of clients’ angst. And, when attorneys procrastinate, paralegals feel the stress. Those who assist attorneys have to be patient under these circumstances and not take venting personally.
Maybe you only have one or two of these qualities. Share how you attained the above qualities with like-minded people in a virtual classroom. Be part of a legal problem-solving team in a law firm, corporation, or governmental agency. Start your career training today at Community Care College!