Paralegal Skills to Keep You Sharp & Marketable
Even if you are already employed at a firm or organization that you love, keeping your paralegal skills sharp and keeping yourself marketable is important.
You work in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment that requires continuing education specific to the legal profession. In order to continue to be a valuable employee, you need to continue to expand your skillset throughout your paralegal career. Even more importantly, you want to continually find training for paralegals that will advance your paralegal career.
Those who believe that education stops when they graduate from college will likely hit a wall in their career growth.
If you want to progress in your paralegal career, you are going to need to invest in advancing your paralegal skills on a regular basis. And we’re not just talking about meeting those annual paralegal CLE requirements. Instead, look at this as an investment in your career, regardless of whether you get CLE credits or not. Here are just some of the other reasons you should invest in learning new things and refreshing your paralegal skills:
1. You’ll make yourself more valuable to the firm.
The more knowledge you have, the more skills you have, the more valuable of an asset you are going to be to your employer. If you want to take on more responsibilities, you should work on building your paralegal skills and acquiring new knowledge.
2. You’ll be more confident.
The better you are at your job, the more confidently you can do it. This will also make you better at fighting stress. So even in high-intensity, high-pressure situations, you will be able to stay calm and get your work done. The attorneys will notice that you work well under pressure and they can rely on you, even when the going gets tough. When you are more confident in your knowledge of your practice area and your ability to do your job, work becomes more enjoyable.
3. You will learn about tools that make your job easier.
Technology is changing the face of the paralegal profession. If you are able to learn new technology skills, you will find your job becoming much easier and you will become more efficient. E-discovery is one of these technologies that has made a paralegal’s job easier – if you are comfortable with the technology. But what is going to be the technical skill that will make your job easier in the coming years? Whether that is AI or some other technology, set aside time to research what paralegal technology skills you can add to your skillset to keep you sharp and marketable into the future.
4. You can branch into a new practice area.
Many paralegals find themselves stuck in an area of law where they found their first job, simply because it is the area of the law they know the most about. If you want to branch into family law, for example, continuing education is an opportunity to train for that practice area and become knowledgeable about this area, before you even start to look for a job in that area. This can also be extremely helpful to the lawyer you work with if they are also trying to branch into a new area.
5. You can stay on top of changes.
With technology now, there is an app for just about everything, including apps that can make your job easier and more efficient. Even if you work at a small firm that does not have expensive case management technology, you now have access to those things at an affordable price. If you have not had exposure to some of this technology, it is worth looking into. When you attend events focused on paralegal skills, whether live or online, you are bound to learn at least one new technology tool or tip.
6. You will become a better communicator.
Communication is a huge part of a paralegal’s job. You are required to communicate with attorneys, clients, the courts, witnesses, experts, co-workers, etc. Expanding your communication skills will only ever help you as a paralegal. Here’s a recent blog article we published on the 7 C’s of Paralegal Communication Skills.
7. You will stay competitive.
It can feel difficult to stay competitive as more paralegals enter the job market. If the new paralegals have more training and more paralegal technology skills, they might start to look like a better option for some employers. A good example of this is when graduates come out of school with a background in technology. A paralegal who graduated 10 years ago didn’t have access to the hundreds of online courses on technology. However, if you’re the experienced paralegal who is also the go-to technology person for your team, you become an indispensable paralegal.
A quote from Stewart Brand sums it up.
Just like the annual performance review that you receive from others, try setting an annual performance goal for your paralegal career. Training for paralegals shouldn’t stop after you get your paralegal degree. Ask yourself, what paralegal skills do I want to work on this year? How much time can I invest in advancing those skills? How much will it cost?
Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.