There are many different career pathways in the legal world – you don’t have to become a lawyer. We’ve been through some of these before, but today, we’re going to have a closer look at how to become a paralegal. Read on to find out more about this exciting, demanding, and rewarding career.
What is a paralegal?
In simple terms, you are a legal assistant to an attorney, and it’s your job to make their jobs easier. Paralegals do all kinds of things, from arranging case files through to research. You could also end up interviewing witnesses and preparing trial notes. It all depends on what the attorney needs – but it is far from a PA role, as you will be involved in the legal process.
How do you become a paralegal?
There are several routes into the paralegal profession. Depending on your pathway, it can take anything from one to four years to get enough education to qualify. You might go straight to college and study for a bachelor’s degree, or you could do an on-the-job degree. Once you have finished that, it is advisable to top off your degree by doing a paralegal certification program. I found that this website offered the best paralegal advice regarding the career requirements.
What skills do you need?
While a paralegal qualification will help you get ready for your career, there is a lot you will learn on the job. You will need to have excellent organization skills – a lot of your work will involve filing. You should also have a high attention to detail, and be able to make efficient use of your time. A professional demeanor can also help – as will a friendly smile and a strong personality.
Where can you work?
Once you qualify and get some experience, there are several areas you can work in. They range from small law firms through to enormous corporate businesses. There is also a lot of paralegal work available in government – and you are free to concentrate on a certain aspect of law if you wish. For example, you could start out in a conveyancing firm, and within a few years, you might be working for a criminal lawyer.
What are the prospects?
There is a lot of potential for development and progress as a paralegal. It’s an important role, for starters. Every bit of research you do might be used in a court of law, and the filing and documentation of cases is a vital legal function. As you progress, you will find work available at bigger firms or organizations. It’s a good career for ambitious people, as the role can be so varied. Every day will be different – as will every case. Excellent criminal paralegals will spend a lot of time in court, for example.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about before you become a paralegal. It’s a job that suits a particular type of mindset, and it’s vital that your organizational skills are up to scratch. Think it could be the career for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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