After doing some research on what qualities an attorney should look for in hiring a paralegal, this is what I found. They want a person with excellent organizational skills, who is detail minded and able to multi-task. They want good communication skills, both oral and written, are essential. They want a paralegal with a genuine interest in law and empathy with clients’ problems and they will be a valuable member of the legal team.
Here is the top 5 list of the best attributes top attorneys look for in their paralegals:
- Be Trustworthy. If you can’t trust a person, there is no way they can make that person an extension of themselves.
- Develop ESP. A great paralegal does not just wait for assignments to be handed to them; they have already thought ahead for the next step, completed the task, and already has it all prepared and ready for a signature.
- Establishing a Macro-managed relationship. Have a conversation with the attorney about your work relationship and let them know that you don’t need to be micro-managed. Pay attention to the little things- margins, spelling, grammar, etc.
- Serving as a barrier for chatty clients. Every attorney has chatty clients. Serve as a barrier for those chatty clients, and your attorney will work less hours and everyone will be happier as a result.
- Commit yourself to “problem files”. By purposely injecting yourself into these files, not only do you keep files moving, you become an indispensable paralegal. This is the best job security anyone can have!
What makes a great paralegal? I have been asking myself this for quite some time. So, I did some research so I can be the best paralegal out there on the market. Communication is number one on the list. Much of a paralegals work is spent interacting with others. Writing skills is number two. Hiring a paralegal who cannot write is like hiring a maid who cannot clean. Writing is absolutely essential to being a good paralegal. Research skills is number three. Being a paralegal is like being a private investigator for your attorney. Multitasking is number four. It is important that a paralegal be able to prioritize and manage the demands of multiple projects at the same time, as well as handle the accompanying stress. Computer skills in number five. Paralegals spend a lot of time preparing documents, and the faster you can pull together the information, the better. Knowledge of Microsoft Excel and how to conduct an internet search are also helpful skills to have. I have all of these qualities. Any attorney in their right mind should not have a problem hiring me!
When I start my career, I would like to work with a criminal prosecuting attorney. Though the work may be pretty routine from a legal perspective, I will definitely find a great amount of excitement working for the District Attorney’s office. As a paralegal in this area, I could be performing legal research, interviewing witnesses, their family, and victims themselves. It may be difficult to get inside a District Attorney’s office without previous experience but I am willing to keep trying until a position opens for me and they actually hire me! I could find an open position within the courthouse and when a position opens for what I am looking for, I could apply. I will already have my foot in the door so maybe that would help. I will want the actual attorney to train me instead of some other paralegal unless they are not available. I just want to be trained right the first time. I want to be the absolute best paralegal an attorney could have.
I would really like to know what an attorney wants in a paralegal. Do they have to be pretty and wear skirts all the time? Do they have to be aggressive? Can they make mistakes and not be fired for them? The reason I ask is because I want to be a great paralegal for an attorney. I want to be able to take a load off of them whenever I can and do a sufficient job. I want them to teach me things that I do not already know without them thinking I know nothing about the career I chose or that I didn’t pay attention while I was in school. I know that a lot of attorneys want paralegals with several years under their belt, but in my opinion, the paralegals that are just getting out of school are ready for the career and want someone to give them a chance to get experience. You never know, that student just getting out of school, could be your long time partner. Just getting out of school, you don’t have any certain way of doing things so an attorney could teach them exactly how they want their job done. There is no breaking old habits.