July 24, 2018
What Are Important Discovery Skills For Paralegals?:
Paralegals are in high demand right now and will become in higher demand as time goes on. According to the Department of Labor there are currently about 280,000 practicing paralegals in the US and that number will grow by at least 8% over the next decade alone.
While the need for such professional is hardly surprising, what many people do not realize is the vast array of talents and qualities that it takes to be a true paralegal who performs their job to the highest standards. The demands on paralegals are quite vast and it is believed that the expectations of what a paralegal is capable of will only grow in the coming years as practicing law gets more and more complicated and varied.
So, after reviewing 100s of different ads for paralegals, what are the most common and sought after skills employers want when they are interviewing a prospective paralegal?1 These skills are important to take note of for anyone looking to hire in the paralegal field so that they are finding the right people with the right talents to stay competitive in the ever-increasingly competitive world of law in the decades moving forward. Moreover, a quality paralegal ensures that a law firm's clients are done thorough justice in cases that they are bringing to the company, many of which have had life-altering effects on not only them but their entire family.
So, after our search was wrapped up, the following are the skills that we found are most often sought after by companies who are hiring prospective paralegals:
- Is Comfortable With Technology: A strong paralegal will be using a lot of technology in their work and therefore will be comfortable using that technology to their advantage. The technology skills required by a paralegal are vast and can range from an understanding of Microsoft Office to using PDF Software or knowing how to work an email program all of this will help a paralegal do their job effectively and efficiently as possible. Moreover, many paralegal professionals will also be required to run software that helps categorize and store electronic information. The most commonly used programs for this purpose include NextPoint and CloudNine.
- Writing: This is essentially a "package deal" needed in any paralegal whether you are writing statements for your witnesses, drafting pleadings, or working on other documents writing will be a vital part of the job of any paralegal. Writing is one of the main forms of communication used in the legal business, especially when everything "must be in writing" as they always say. So focusing on strong writing skills to communicate is essential to a paralegal documenting clearly what is happening and being able to share that with others during the trial process.
- Communication: Communication is a vital part of being a paralegal as well. Whether you are holding a phone conversation with someone or writing an email, knowing how to communicate with other people is essential to being a strong paralegal. Most paralegal duty will require you to communicate with others, after all you're a lawyer's right hand so you will need to know how to communicate clearly to ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands what will be occurring throughout the entire legal process.
- Knowledge Of Court Rules & Procedures: Considering that virtually everything a paralegal does in some way impacts what happens in the courtroom, the paralegal should understand the process of what goes on a court room fairly well. This includes all of the rules and procedures of the court as well as how they effect the clients who are on trial. Moreover, the rules and procedures in courts are constantly changing and evolving, so understanding how they change and how that impacts the paralegal's job will be essential to someone in the paralegal profession staying current and up-to-date on their job duties as possible.
- Abilities To Prioritize & Organize: There are many activities that a paralegal will be required to participate in on a regular basis. Being able to prioritize these required activities to meet the needs of working on multiple cases at once will help a paralegal remain "on top" of things as possible, even if several trials are happening at once. Being able to move from one case to another is also important as most paralegals will handle more than one case in a given business day. Finally, being able to organize papers and evidence for all cases without mixing any of them will further assist a paralegal in being able to give the attention to each case it deserves without "mixing up" evidence or documentation for each individual case with that from another case.
- The Ability To Solve Problems: Finally, a paralegal must be someone who can solve problems. Paralegals will get information in that does not meet their needs or information will be missing or simply unavailable in certain cases. Being able to use what you have on hand to the best of your ability will be key to being able to be the most successful paralegal possible for your company. Solving these problems for your case can help the legal team spend more time and energy on the client's case rather than making them worry about doing the "background" work that can be done by a paralegal who is able to solve problems for them.
These are just some of the most important skills that a paralegal can bring to the table when they are applying for jobs. As the industry grows and gets more competitive, getting the "top-notch" jobs will be more and more challenging and a paralegal that possesses strong skills in these categories will likely often get first dibs at the top-rated jobs in their field.
These traits are also things that companies want to look for2 when seeking to hire the best paralegals to join their team. Seeking these specific traits on job resumes is also another great way to sift through piles of applications to find paralegals who will bring you the strongest skills of the trade that are needed to help them (and your firm) succeed at the jobs that lie ahead.
For more information on how to hire the top paralegals for your law firm, please feel free to contact us.