When you become a paralegal, the learning does not stop in the classroom or paralegal training program you attend. In many ways, it is just beginning. The quest for more knowledge, more experience, more training, and greater achievements within the field leads or should lead you to seek out ways to stand out at the law firm, company, or legal department in which you become employed.
The desire to be one of the best paralegals where you work should push you to want to learn and gain all of the knowledge you can. The time and hard work you put into becoming a paralegal will and should drive you to achieve higher levels once you attain that degree or certificate. I can say this time and effort drove me to gain as much knowledge as possible.
When I think back to my decision to enroll in a paralegal certificate program, I was working in the banking industry as a Return Items Processor working until the work was done. At the time, I had decided to become a paralegal to gain legal experience toward my future aspirations of becoming a lawyer. I would leave work on the days I had a class, attend class, come home, eat if I had not done so at school, and study before going to bed. I did this for a year with the help of my parents who would drop me off at school or take me to the local trolley stop so I could get to school and achieve my goal. It was this time, effort, and pursuit of greater knowledge that followed me through my burgeoning legal career.
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Why Join A Paralegal Association?
I began to gain knowledge and experience in the contract legal positions I had over the years and then decided, in 2017, that I wanted to join my local Paralegal Association. I found many benefits to membership in my Local and National Paralegal Associations.
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Here are 14 benefits of joining a Local, State, or National Paralegal Association:
- Camaraderie and Social Interaction Among Paralegals
- Mentoring Opportunities
- Networking Opportunities
- Professional Development: Association and/or Affiliate sponsored CLEs and webinars
- Exchange of Information from Fellow Members with Expertise in a Particular Area of Law
- Speaker-led Events (i.e. my local association and county Community College’s Paralegal Studies Program hosts an Annual Law Roundtable Discussion focusing on topics within the industry and provides CLE credits for Attorneys and Paralegals. Attorneys, Judges, and Paralegals are the panelists for these discussions.)
- In Pennsylvania, a Discounted Rate for Members of a Paralegal Association within the Keystone Alliance Applying for their Pa.C.P. Certification.
- Member Discounts on Car Rentals, Hotels, Travel, Insurance, Office Items, Technology, and Online Service Providers like the American Bar Association (ABA). Other National Associations offer the opportunity to open a credit union account, as my local Association offers.
- Members-only Job Postings
- Contribution to the Advancement of the Paralegal Profession on a Local, State, and National level
- Volunteer Opportunities to provide Paralegal assistance or speaking engagements for events your Association may host or participate in. My local Paralegal Association has volunteered to speak for paralegal students at Sponsored colleges/programs
- Charitable Donations and Fundraising Events from your Association. My local Paralegal Association has had toy drives and item donations for our county’s domestic abuse project.
- Looks good on a resume or LinkedIn profile to show your involvement in organizations whose mission is to advance the Legal and Paralegal professions. Demonstrates a well-rounded professional who wants to interact and add value to their profession.
- Opportunities to utilize your talents in a leadership, administrative or communication role as an Association President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Regional Director, Association newsletter/magazine staff, or a Social Media Manager.
Most states or counties have paralegal associations that you can join. Do an online search of Paralegal Associations in your county or state to find them or check with your state or county bar association. Some bar associations like my county bar association work with paralegal associations on CLE events and even allowed us to use their building for our pre-pandemic in-person quarterly meetings. We have been holding our meetings via Zoom since the pandemic and continue to successfully conduct the activities of our association online. We hosted a CLE event at the bar association in May with registration help from their staff.
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Opportunities to Get More Involved
Some of the national paralegal associations that I am a member of and would suggest exploring for the benefits mentioned above are the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), NALA The Paralegal Association, and the American Bar Association (ABA) which have memberships for paralegals, provides member discounts, a career center, free CLEs, and member groups that focus on different practice areas.
I am glad that I made the decision to join my local paralegal association because it led to what I feel has been one of my greatest learning experiences so far in my paralegal career – becoming the Social Media Manager of our association’s LinkedIn and Instagram pages.
I have enjoyed being a member of my local paralegal association. It has made me feel like a bigger part of the paralegal community. I feel recognized and being a member has led me to pursue my PA Paralegal Certification (in Pennsylvania, if you have the education, experience, and other requirements, you can become a Pa.C.P. which stands for Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal through the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations). My local paralegal association is in one of the PA counties that is a member of the Keystone Alliance. It was a great achievement to become a Pa.C.P.
As a Pa.C.P., Continuing Legal Education (CLEs) is necessary to maintain your certification so the learning does not stop! I began looking on LinkedIn more to find more opportunities for CLEs and additional paralegal training which made me begin to utilize LinkedIn more and search online for further paralegal knowledge.
In that quest, I began to see how different paralegal organizations have LinkedIn pages and what might improve our paralegal association’s existing pages. In 2019, my paralegal association decided to revamp its social presence and create a new page that I was asked to manage. I accepted! It was then that I decided that I wanted to make our new page a resource, a go-to hub for people in our county and around the country to read interesting articles, listen to podcasts, attend events, earn CLEs, and network with fellow paralegals nationwide.
Managing Your Association’s Social Media
The Social Media Manager role consists of:
- Networking (making Connections Requests with fellow Paralegals that I do not know and inviting them to our group page)
- Searching websites, LinkedIn, and Instagram for relevant content for our pages
- Searching for relevant podcast providers to share on our pages
- Posting Association-related events, photos from the events, and reminders to Association members who check the platforms more than their email
- Deciding what is acceptable content for the pages
- Monitoring and reviewing the pending posts to make sure they are relevant and following the guidelines of our page and mission
- Monitoring the growth of our membership on our LinkedIn and Instagram pages
- Setting performance goals for our pages
- Reporting growth and any information about our pages and the engagement on them to our paralegal association President for monthly board meetings
I have obtained and enhanced the following skills as a Social Media Manager:
- Increased networking skills and a willingness to connect with people I didn’t know to make the page grow. This is similar to a sales technique called cold calling.
- Increased technical knowledge of the LinkedIn and Instagram platforms
- Enhanced knowledge for my Paralegal career through CLEs, coursework, and certificate programs that I found out about from the connections I made for the Association’s pages
- Creating performance goals and learning how to identify an audience and what they want
- Improving my online research skills to find content
Managing my association’s LinkedIn page has brought me recognition and respect from my association and colleagues in the industry. My association valued my input enough to pursue the idea I had to extend our reach through Instagram and create a page. We started this page in January of this year and it has already gained followers and engagement.
Read more about Social Media Ethics.
Lessons Learned in my Paralegal Career
I’d like to share the following takeaways from my experience as a Paralegal Association Social Media Manager and my paralegal career:
- Get involved in a local, State, or National Paralegal Association.
- Seek to achieve new goals, certifications, etc.
- Seek out more knowledge; there is always more to learn!
- Don’t be afraid to connect with people that you do not know; that’s what Networking is! It could lead you to various resources and opportunities for knowledge and advancement in your career.
- Utilize the opportunity to learn more about the paralegal profession through LinkedIn, courses, blogs, and podcasts, like Paralegal Boot Camp and others within the industry.
Remember that you are the master of your own destiny and career. Seize opportunities that are presented to be the best in your field. Don’t limit yourself or think it is impossible. If you are thinking of creating a blog or podcast or being active in a paralegal organization, do it! I decided to pursue this guest writing opportunity to combine my enjoyment of writing and my profession. The sky is the limit! Carpe Diem!
Meet the Author
Leatrice B. Branch, Pa.C.P. is a Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal and Notary Public. She is a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and obtained her Paralegal Certificate from The PJA School. Leatrice has worked in the Banking and Legal industries and currently works for a not-for-profit company as a Legal Associate in their Legal Department. Leatrice is a member of several professional organizations such as NALA, National Federation of Paralegal Associations, American Bar Association, National Association of Black Legal Assistants, and Paralegals, and is the Social Media Manager for the Delaware County Paralegal Association’s Linkedin and Instagram pages. She enjoys reading, writing, music, history, gaining new knowledge, communicating, and spending time with family, loved ones, and close friends.
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