A paralegal should serve customers effectively and efficiently with an aim of creating time for the attorney to do their job smoothly. They offer integral and critical support to lawyers through carrying out a wide range of legal, administrative and secretarial work such as research and providing legal information to clients. Thus, this career may be demanding and requires specific skills and personality traits that are discussed below.
Legal Assistants are the face of the business. They interact with the public, clients, and court clerks. Thus, they should be in a position to handle different types of people and deal with different situations without being rude or inconsiderate. They should be creative, tactful and able to control their emotions.
A paralegal should be more organized than the lawyer. This is because, they are entrusted with duties such as keeping important dates, making phone calls to clients, maintaining customer files, sending letters among others that require top notch organization.
Since legal assistants are at the front end of a business, they should be loyal to their employer and clients. They should be devoted, trustworthy and faithful to their employers. They should not criticize their employer even when things are not right.
They should be strong enough to follow ethics and refuse to do wrong things such as signing an attorney’s name to documents. Comprehend trust accounts rules and adhere to them.
In the legal sector, communication is key. Up to 70 percent of a paralegals’ day is spent communicating with people. Communication is vital especially when interviewing witnesses, talking to new clients and contacting experts. They should know how to ask appropriate questions and keep the conversation on the right track.
Writing is an integral part and crucial skill to any paralegal position. They draft all sorts of documents from witness statements, legal memorandums, pleadings, agreements, and contracts to motions. Thus, to excel, a paralegal must master the art of persuasive, clear and concise writing communication.
Legal assistants also act as private investigators. Thus, an aptitude for research and investigation defines a great legal assistant. They should know how to use internet search engines and legal research databases like Nexis and Westlaw to gather relevant case details.
Attention to detail and multitasking
Paralegals handle a lot of work from communicating with clients, scheduling meeting for lawyers and research. Thus, they should be in a position to manage multiple demanding projects at the same time accurately.
Though the above are the main skills and personality traits that a good paralegal should possess, there are other intangible skills such as determination, self-motivation and love for law that are crucial. For more information about being a paralegal please see the Paralegal Job Description: A Day In The Life article.