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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.

– Afsheen

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

  1. Have a good, positive, can-do attitude.
  2. Be indispensable. You want your attorney to think he/she can’t practice law without you. Be the right and left hand.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Be organized. Your attorney will rely on you for organization.
  8. Most importantly, learn from your mistakes!

–  Jan Whaley

First days as a paralegal:
Starting a new job can be stressful, no matter what kind of job it is or who you’re working for. Keep in mind though that you’ve already gotten through the hardest part – the interview. You got hired and there’s a reason why, maybe even several reasons. Show them why they hired you. If you displayed certain strengths in that interview, show them what those strengths are and that you really have them. One of mine, for example, is that I’m a quick-learner and love learning new things. By day three, I was already doing many tasks on my own, and just having my trainer check my work.
On your first few days as a paralegal make sure you take lots of notes. Each firm is different and each one wants different things from their employees. Some attorneys like you to do certain tasks a specific way so you want to be sure to note what they tell you so they don’t have to say it to you twice. So my biggest piece of advice is to bring a pad of paper or notebook and a pen or two and take lots of notes from the people training you, from the attorneys, from anybody who tells you how to do your job properly.
Also, show your personality. Don’t hide away in a shell. Your co-workers can’t get to know you if you hide away in your cubicle and don’t talk at all. I tend to be a shy person so this was kind of a struggle for me, but even I managed to become friends with several of my co-workers.

–  Chelsea Bieber

My advice to any recent graduate is to know that looking for a job is a full-time job. When I was job-hunting after graduation, I spent 8 hours a day working on my resume, filling out applications, cold-calling, and sending emails to contacts I had made in the field. Don’t be scared when it doesn’t happen immediately. I looked for 3 months before I found a temporary job, and then was hired on permanently after about a month. Take your internship seriously, if you are offered one. What you think might only be a two-week internship might evolve into your career! Even if it doesn’t work out that way, the firm you are interning for will provide your recommendation to your future employer (if you’ve earned it!).
Once you get hired, dress and behave professionally, and take pride in every assignment. Ask questions! Ask a million of them, but don’t ask the same one twice. This will demonstrate that you are eager to learn and also very attentive. Take notes on everything to show your dedication to learning new things and growing as a paralegal. Take any instruction you are given very seriously. Show that you are willing to do anything possible to be the very best at what you do. Nothing is too small of a task. Be grateful and show your appreciation to the people you work with that are giving you the opportunity to prove yourself when you have no experience; this is truly a gift.

 — Lauren Chlouber

As a paralegal, you must think of yourself as an extension of the lawyer/firm you are working for and consider the ramifications of your actions.  Always take the time and the extra effort to make your work complete and polished.  Positive feedback from clients resulting from your thoughtful work is a good marketing tool for the lawyers. Ask questions!  It’s always better to obtain a clear knowledge of what you need to accomplish before you get yourself into a mess of trouble.  Do it right the first time, and you’ll prevent headaches for you and your co-workers.  Don’t take anyone or anything around you for granted—take the opportunity to learn from those around you.  We all have different outlooks and opinions, and if you’re open to those perspectives, you might find a new and better way of doing something.  Just be observant and considerate!



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      Source: https://centerforparalegals.com/jacs-teaching-style-and-survival-tips-from-graduates/