Ideal Paralegal Skills And Personality Traits

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.

Emotional intelligence

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.

Organization

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.

Be Loyal

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.

Incorruptible

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.

Communication skills

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 skills

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.

Research skills

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.

Sample Paralegal Job Description For Resume

590-3100

john_stilton1@gmail.com

P.O Box 1158, Ontario, Canada

John Stilton

QUALIFICATION

A person who is qualified through education and training to perform efficient legal work. The job of a Paralegal is a demanding one, requiring knowledge of law procedures. They form an integral part of the legal team. Solicitors rely upon Paralegals for their support staff within the legal profession, without which they cannot function effectively. They play major roles in the legal process. Their work ranges from the courtroom, office, conferences, as well as the law library.

SUMMARY

  • Profile : Male, 30, Married
  • Nationality : American
  • Current location : Ontario, Canada
  • Passport Number: PP038121
  • Visa Type : Family Visa

REQUIREMENTS

An associate degree in Paralegal studies should suffice with a bachelor’s degree. A certificate program in Paralegal studies after graduation is required. These programs are for a duration of a couple of months and introduce the student to this field intensely. If the internship program is completed along with this certificate program, it is more beneficial. Paralegals tend to have greater expertise and are qualified to carry out considerable tasks within the law firm. They might also take over their job as a lawyer when the lawyer is not present. They carry out the work of a legal assistance, in that they carry out basic secretarial tasks. These tasks may include organizing documents and drafting correspondence.

  • Contact clients and interview them
  • Carry out legal investigations
  • Complete legal tasks before the deadline
  • Perform legal research and prepare legal documents under the supervision of a lawyer.
  • Giving advice on consumer law protection
  • Giving advice for immigration law to clients
  • Working as part of the RSPCA prosecution team and prosecuting people who have been inhumane towards animals.
  • Paralegals also defend and register trademarks for food companies as well as working on family law, such as cases of divorce in a solicitors’ firm.

WORK EXPERIENCE

May 2010-June 2012 Paralegal at The American Alliance of Paralegals Wilmington, Delaware

  • Carried out legal investigations
  • Performed legal research and prepared legal documents under the supervision of a lawyer.

September 2012- May 2013 Paralegal at the National Paralegal Association Ontario, Canada

  • Worked as part of the RSPCA prosecution team and prosecuting people who have been inhumane towards animals.
  • Gave advice on consumer law protection
  • Gave advice for immigration law to clients
  • Defended and registered trademarks for food companies as well as worked on family law, such as cases of divorce in a solicitors’ firm

What Are Some Of The Top Paralegal Firms In Toronto?

The Paralegal field is expanding rapidly in the county of Canada.  Here are a few of the more desirable places in the city of Toronto to obtain a job in the paralegal field.

  1. Stikeman Elliott
  2. LCB Paralegal Services
  3. Spectrum Paralegal

Strikeman is based in Toronto and has the desire to become the top Canadian business law firm, both domestically and internationally.  Strikeman looks to hire both students and associate paralegals and has locations in Calgary, New York, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal.  In 2015 the firm was named one of Canada’s most diversified and greenest employers.

Stikeman Elliott LLP | 5300 Commerce Court West | 199 Bay Street Toronto, ON  M5L 1B9 | Phone: (416) 869-5500 | Toll-Free: (877) 973-5500 | Fax: (416) 947-0866

LCB Paralegal Services has been based in the greater Toronto area since 2008 and has quickly became one of the go to spots for aspiring paralegals.  The firm is always in search of “new talent and experienced paralegals”.  Resumes can be sent to info@lcbparalegal.ca.

LCB Paralegal Services 2300 Yonge Street | Suite 1600 | Toronto, Ontario  M4P 1E4 | Phone: (416) 479-0912 | Fax: (416) 479-0913

Spectrum Paralegal are not hiring at this time but paralegals are encouraged to check their Paralegal career page weekly as this is ont of the better Paralegal firms in the city of Toronto to work for.

Please read a day in the life of a Paralegal (Paralegal Job Description) if you are on the fence on whether or not a paralegal career is right for you.

 

Paralegal Job Description: A Day In The Life

Being a paralegal means working in a law office, handling the more mundane tasks that the attorneys generally don’t do, like transcribing interviews and conducting legal research. But that doesn’t really capture the essence of the experience. So, what’s it really like to work a day as a paralegal? It turns out that’s not so easy to answer. There are just about as many different ideas of what a paralegal does as there are paralegals! The only way to be sure what you will be doing as a paralegal is to work as one.

paralegaloccupation.com

The law firm you work for, the specialization or area of law you focus on, how long you’ve worked there, your level of education, and even your location can affect the exact kind of work you’re asked to do. Since that’s the case, paralegals need to be very open to what they’re asked to do, and they have to be adaptable on a daily basis. Too much rigidity isn’t helpful, and it’s not going to give you the opportunity to do the job to the best of your ability. Instead, be ready for change and embrace it, so you can keep growing in your career.

Here are the main categories of work you might be asked to do on a typical day, to give you a good idea of what a day in the life of a paralegal is really like. No matter what you think about being a paralegal, though, one thing is clear: it’s not like any other job you’ve had before. Everything you’ve been told about being a paralegal is probably right for some people, and it’s certainly wrong for others. Expect to do a lot of different things, expect to be bored sometimes, and expect to have some really exciting moments.

Some of It is Administrative

Sure, there are going to be boring times, or tasks that aren’t that interesting. There’s a reason that some people call paralegals “legal secretaries” or “law clerks.” In some instances, it might feel very much like you’re just a glorified secretary, and that you aren’t really getting to exercise everything you’ve learned when you trained to be a paralegal. Where are all the late nights, working on exciting cases of intrigue and espionage? Be patient. They may come along eventually.

It can be frustrating when those kinds of cases don’t materialize right away, but the administrative requirements of the job are far from the only thing you’ll be doing each day. Answering phones, scheduling, filing, paperwork, and answering correspondence are all just part of the job, but there are more interesting things to do, too. In between all that administrative stuff is the real “meat” of the job – the actual legal work that will have you delving into cases, talking to people, and researching what happened in the past.

paralegal job description

Creating Legal Documents

If your writing skills aren’t the best, you’re going to have a hard time as a paralegal, because you’ll be doing a lot of legal writing. You’ll be asked to draft legal documents, and then you’ll be asked to make changes after the attorney looks them over. Expect to make more than one round of changes on some of them, as well. Want to set yourself apart? Learn how to create legal documents the right way, the first time. Doing that means you’ll get noticed for all the right reasons, and that’s important.

It’s both easy and hard to create legal documents. Many of them contain a lot of “boilerplate,” which is all that fine print (or “legalese”) that you see in contracts and all types of other legal documents. That information isn’t exclusive to that particular case, and it’s not going to change. However, a lot of the other information around it will be different, depending on the particular case you’re working on. By using the boilerplate effectively and taking care with the information you have to put in manually, you’ll have a better chance of getting your legal documents right on the first try.

Do You Like Playing Detective?

A big part of working as a paralegal is doing some detective work. While you aren’t going to get to skulk around, solving mysteries like Sherlock Holmes, you can find some pretty interesting things if you know where to look. Finding witnesses, looking through public records, and doing a lot of investigative work are all big parts of being a paralegal. That’s good news for anyone who’s very interested in learning about other people, and also a good choice for people who like to dig for knowledge.

There are limits to the information you’ll have access to, of course, since you’re not a police officer, don’t have a warrant, and don’t work for the government. Still, tracking down a witness to get further information, digging through public records to find property someone owns, or looking through old newspaper information to spot a past transgression that could affect the current case can all seem pretty exciting – especially if you’ve been answering phones and filing paperwork all morning! There are plenty of detective options for you as a paralegal, so don’t be shy about digging into information to locate what’s needed.

Don’t Forget the Legal Research

If you’ve become a paralegal with the idea that you’re not going to be stuck in the back room, looking through old legal books, you might have gotten into the wrong profession. While it’s true that a lot of what you’ll be doing can probably be handled over the internet, there will still be times when you’ll need to spend some quality time with big legal books filled with statutes and case law. There will also be documents to look through, background checks to run, and other methods of determining how to proceed with a case.

While it’s ultimately up to the attorney to decide the case’s direction, what you tell that attorney based on your legal research findings can have a big impact on how things play out over time. If you’re not sure about a particular “fact,” make certain you check into it before you provide it. You don’t want to give the wrong information to the attorney, as that could lead to problems for both the attorney and the client when it comes to the value of the case. Legal research is one of the top tasks you’ll be involved in, so it’s time to get comfortable with it and consider this a key issue in the paralegal job description realm.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Interviews are part of detective work, and they’re part of the investigative work you’ll be doing as a paralegal. If you’re not comfortable talking to people and asking questions, it’s time to get comfortable, because that part of the job isn’t going to go away. Especially if you want to stand out as a paralegal, your interviewing skills have to be good. The more information you’re able to get from witnesses and clients, the more you can put in your report to the attorney. With the right interviewing technique, you could uncover something crucial to the case.

That would be exciting, and could lead to a big breakthrough that will make all the difference to the client and the attorney. Don’t underestimate how much value you can bring to the table by collecting the facts from clients and witnesses. Ask the right questions, and be prepared to ask follow-up questions. It’s a good idea to have them all written down, so you don’t forget anything. You don’t want to keep calling a client or a witness back because you forgot to ask them something. Avoid Columbo’s “just one more thing…” and ask all your questions the first time.

paralegal job outlook

Help Get That Case Ready

You thought the attorney was going to be responsible for the case preparation, didn’t you? Well, surprise! That’s your job, too. While the attorney definitely has the last word on how the case should be handled, most of the prep work of that case is going to be handled by the paralegal. Attorneys work on a number of different cases at once, and one of the things that allows them to keep up that pace is to have good paralegals that are relied on to handle the case prep and other concerns that come up throughout the process.

Legal arguments, opening statements, and everything in between is going to fall squarely on your shoulders, and will often eat up a big chunk of your day. Don’t forget the closing statements and the court motions, while you’re working on that particular case. It’s easier to do as much of it as you can at one time, while it’s still fresh in your mind. You’ll have to fit other activities in during the day, but a lot of your time will be devoted to making sure the attorney’s case is ready when the attorney is, so the process doesn’t get delayed.

The Value is in the Variety

Why are paralegals so valuable? Because they do just about everything! There are a few things they can’t do, of course, or they would be equal to lawyers in their legal capabilities, but almost all of the behind-the-scenes work in a law office is handled by paralegals. They are the glue that holds the legal world – and each individual law office – together. If you decide to be one, you can expect some down times where things aren’t very exciting, and some “wild ride” times where you wonder if it will ever slow down again.

That’s part of the reason people choose to become paralegals. There’s always something different, and if you wait a few minutes, you’ll be asked to do something different than what you’re working on at that moment. In the morning you might interview some witnesses and file some paperwork, while your afternoon could consist of legal research and the preparation of documents. Then you get a phone call that changes everything, and suddenly you’re putting your documents aside to do something unexpected. While not everyone likes that level of uncertainty, it can definitely keep things from getting boring or mundane for a paralegal.

Paralegals Aren’t Lawyers – and That’s a Good Thing

A paralegal isn’t a lawyer. Some of them may feel like lawyers, with as much legal work as they do, but they can’t go to court, try cases, or actually advise clients. If you’re a paralegal and you’re caught dispensing legal advice, you could get into a lot of trouble. Even if you think the attorney is wrong, or the client asks what you think about something, keep it to yourself. That’s not always easy, but it’s important. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a suggestion or ask the attorney a question about the case, but you want to be sure you’re presenting facts and doing what’s asked of you.

It can take around seven years of schooling to become a lawyer, but you’ll need considerably less than that to be a paralegal. In some cases you can get on-the-job training, and don’t need formal education at all. Most paralegals, though, either get a certificate or a two-year degree. Depending on the level of education you get, you may find that you paid pretty well even when you’re just starting out. No matter how much education you have, though, you’ll be doing the grunt work for the attorney, so they can take on more cases.

In that way, you’ll be helping a lot of people with your day-to-day activities. A day in the life of a paralegal may not always seem glamorous, but it’s definitely valuable and can improve lives. People who are involved in court cases are generally already stressed and upset, so handling their worries and the facts of their case efficiently is among the best ways to help them mitigate that stress. While you can’t “fix it” for them, you can use your knowledge and skills to make sure the attorney working for them has the right information – and that’s worth more than you might realize. All in all, it makes for a pretty good day.

 

 

 

What Do You Think Makes A Paralegal Successful?

What makes a paralegal successful?

The intricate and at times complex nature of the legal profession requires well trained and highly coordinated teams. Lawyers rely on dedicated legal assistants to ensure every case proceeds smoothly. Paralegals form a critical part of a legal team, doing legal research, interviewing clients, and drafting legal documents.

A paralegal will therefore need specialized training and experience. This includes a bachelor’s or associate degree in paralegal studies, on job training under a qualified lawyer, and paralegal certification by a professional body. However, working as a paralegal requires much more than qualifications. There are essential skills that are indispensable in this profession.

Here is what makes a paralegal successful:

Passion for the law

Every accomplished professional has a profound interest in what they do. The same is true for paralegals. An appreciation and passion for the workings of the legal system is important if you want to be the best. Paralegals and the lawyers they work for have a deep interest in helping others seek justice through the legal process. This passion drives them to learn more and be better at what they do every day.

Attention to detail

Paralegals are the detail specialists in any legal team. Legal work involves numerous documents, many of which are extremely complex. Drafting, analyzing, and organizing such documentation requires a diligent person who pays attention to detail. Paralegals must be able to catalog, sort, and index paperwork arising from complex litigation and business transactions.

Many cases are lost on seemingly obscure technicalities and facts. It is the work of the paralegal to ensure this never happens. A paralegal who takes care of the details allows the lawyer to focus on the bigger picture when trying a case.

Good writing skills

Paralegals spend a lot of time preparing and drafting motions, discovery, wills, deeds, and numerous other legal documents. This type of work will demand very good writing skills with perfect grammar. You will also need to master legal jargon and write accurate, concise and highly persuasive pleadings. Written correspondence with opposing parties, clients, and others involved in a case, will have to be of the highest calibre.

Excellent communication skills

Paralegals spend most of their time communicating with other people. They are the primary contact between lawyers and clients, opposing counsel, witnesses, experts, and everyone else in a case. They keep clients up to date on the progress of their cases, and advise them on non-legal matters relating to their cases.

Paralegals also interview experts and witnesses when gathering facts about a case. You will need to be good at asking the right questions so as to get the right answers. This will require great oral communication skills. Working in a legal team will require good interpersonal skills as well.

Ability to multitask

Paralegals are the work horses in any law firm. Researching, drafting, filing, interviewing, and coordinating teams is all part of a paralegals day at work. You will be required to track court dates and manage budgets at the same time. This type of workload can be stressful for anyone who cannot handle different projects simultaneously. Being able to juggle multiple case loads and prioritize assignments from several superiors will come in handy when working as a paralegal.

Computer proficiency

Technology plays a big part in everything we do today. Legal work relies on information technology including legal research software, spreadsheets, databases, and word processors. Cases such as patent disputes will usually be related to technology. Researching and interviewing experts on such cases will require a basic knowledge of technology. A paralegal will need to master these skills in order to be more efficient at work.

Research skills

A lot of the legal research that goes into building a particular case is done by paralegals. This requires combing through countless case precedents, statutes, and other legal material. Paralegals also investigate the facts of a case by crosschecking witness statements, police reports, and camera footage among others. This demands an aptitude for analytical thinking and good reading skills. Only then can you ensure that you have collected every piece of evidence to be used in court.

These skills are highly treasured by law firms, corporations, and government departments that employ paralegals. An assertive, authoritative, and highly presentable character will also set you apart from your peers. This is not a job for anyone; it is meant for those ready to take on the exacting demands of the legal profession.