Post Paralegal Certificate Success:
Survival Tips for New Paralegals
You learned how to become a Paralegal, obtained your Paralegal Certificate, and are now ready to take on your next challenge as a new Paralegal in the workforce. In this post, Paralegal graduates from the Center for Paralegals who have recently started their careers in the legal field share advice and survival tips for new graduates. Paired with the knowledge gained from Blackstone Career Institute, the following insights will only add to your success!
The Center for Paralegals: Advice for New Paralegals
If you will be working in a firm that handles various areas of the law, it is a good idea to always take notes when you are working on something new because you will find that you will work in one area and complete the project, and not work in that area again for a few weeks. It is good to have your notes to look back for the next project. Understand your cases. Always double check your work. I like to check my work on printed paper as opposed to checking it on the computer screen before finalizing. Always click that spell check button, even on inner-office e-mails. When calling the courts for information, be courteous and friendly. You never know when you’ll need a favor. Sometimes you may talk to someone at the clerk’s office that may give you wrong information, so use your intuition; if they sound like they don’t know what they’re talking about, ask more questions to make sure you are getting correct information.
– Esther Bishop
Even if you don’t have any experience as a Paralegal, it is OK. It really is all about the way you sell yourself, play up your good qualities, work ethic, and work experience. It was really hard for me to finally find a job I really like and there were times where I was extremely frustrated and wanted to give up. Finding a job is a full time job, so I’d also like to say don’t give up that easily if you can’t find a job initially, it will happen. But also don’t just take any job because it’s a waste of your time, as well as the firm’s.
I would say the best thing to do when starting as a fresh paralegal is to make friends with other paralegals the receptionists, even baby lawyers. They serve as great references since attorneys give you a list of tasks they want completed and sometimes I have no idea what it means and being able to ask someone who knows, besides having to keep going back to the attorney, is a lifesaver. They show the quick ways of doing things and don’t mind reviewing your work before you turn it in. Also making lots of notes on how to do little daily things so they just have to show you once, EXAMPLE how to send certified mail or forward telephone calls.
– Christina Lara
Have a good, positive, can-do attitude.
Be indispensable. You want your attorney to think he/she can’t practice law without you. Be the right and left hand.
Never go into your attorney’s office without pen and paper. The one time you are just dropping off something is when a new assignment will be rattled off.
When you are given an assignment go one step further than what is asked of you. For example, if you are asked to research something and print out your findings – do a little more, highlight the areas applicable, and prepare a short memo explaining your findings and any questions you have.
Think outside the box. If you are given an assignment stop and think about how you would want the assignment done. A lot of assignments do not come with instructions. That is when you have to stop and think about what you are doing.
Always be willing to learn. Do not turn down an assignment because you do not know how to do it. Figure it out or ask for guidance.
Be organized. Your attorney will rely on you for organization.
Most importantly, learn from your mistakes!