Are you an Employer?    Attract the Best Candidates with Smart Job Postings! Search Legal Resumes
Legal Jobs Board for Attorneys, Law Students & Legal Staff | Serving USA & Other Countries | LawCrossing

Need Help? Call (800) 973-1177 

Job Seeker Login   Employer Login 

Job Seekers?  Try it Now  

ATTORNEY JOBS
LAW STUDENT JOBS
LEGAL STAFF JOBS
See Law Jobs We Have Recently Researched and Located for You
What Where
Show Recruiter Jobs  

Show Refreshed Jobs  



Search in Job Title Only
Job Type:
Employer Type:

+ Browse Legal Jobs     + Advanced Search     + Search Tips     + Upload Legal Resume
Legal Jobs >> Legal Articles >> Feature >> Tips for Becoming a Successful Paralegal
  • Feature

Tips for Becoming a Successful Paralegal


by      

Tips for Becoming a Successful Paralegal
Penny Cierzan has been a ''paralegal hunter'' for nearly four years.
"You don't have to practice law if you go to law school," she said. "I had attended a seminar put on by Deborah Aaron entitled '1,000 Different Things You Can Do with a Law Degree,' and she inspired me to think outside of the box...I loved law, learning, and helping people."

After teaching paralegal and pre-law students for many years, Cierzan has now spent nearly four years recruiting paralegals as the paralegal placement director at The Esquire Group in Minneapolis, MN. She gave us some tips on what clients look for in efficient paralegals and how efficient paralegals should be:

Why do individuals choose to be paralegals rather than practicing lawyers?

Law school is a heavy financial burden and requires a significant time commitment, so it is a very good option for people who cannot provide for that. Not everyone has the luxury to go through all that schooling. It is a good way to be involved in law without going through those struggles. Paralegals can sometimes even make more than some attorneys.

What tips can you give for a paralegal starting out in the industry?

You need to make sure you have a good resume, great communication skills, outstanding interpersonal skills—and be patient. The desperate job search is never good! Also, always remember every job counts; skills are always transferable! If you were a sales associate in a retail department, you likely managed money, interacted with clients, etc.

What do you need to do to become a paralegal?

In the market that I work in, it is becoming even more important that you have a bachelor's degree and a paralegal certificate. It does vary in every state you are in. Also, more and more employers are requiring that paralegals have paralegal certificates from ABA-approved programs, as they are questioning the online programs, etc. However, since the state has not implemented or required any specific training, anyone could really call themselves a paralegal if they have the experience to support the title. This is something that I suspect will change in the near future.

What kind of personality fits best with a paralegal career?

I would say a "type-A" personality fits best. They should be introverted and extroverted and highly organized. They can't really be an "idea" person only; they have to be somebody who completes tasks. The [average graduate] right out of school has the least amount of success and has a harder time, so life experience helps in being more successful.

What is the average entry-level salary for a paralegal, and how high can a paralegal's salary go?

The entry-level salary starts around $30,000 to $35,000. It can go upwards to over $100,000, though. I cannot disclose specific names or companies, but I've had clients get positions worth that much or more.

How should you approach an interview for a paralegal position?

Interview Dos:
  • Most importantly, you should bring with you a clean copy of your resume and references!

  • Be on time!!!

  • Dress appropriately...many make the error of being too overdressed.

  • Research the firm/company.

  • Have questions to ask about the firm/company.

  • Be able to give examples of your work or work ethic (anecdotal answers).

  • Establish rapport—the 80(them)/20(you) rule.

  • Save nuts and bolts for the right time.

  • Always be honest.

  • Don't forget to tell them you are interested in their position at the end of the interview.
Interview Don'ts:
  • Don't be late.

  • Don't wear a lot of perfume/cologne or scented lotion.

  • Don't dress casually, even on Fridays!

  • Don't complain about former employers.

  • Don't hide gaps in your work history.

  • Be careful not to exaggerate your work experience.

  • Interviewing is like a presentation. You need to prepare and practice; don't just wing it.
Where do you hope the paralegal industry will be 10 years from now?

I suspect the paralegal profession will be regulated by a state-by-state basis and there will be more federal regulations. I think there will be (and should be) standardization of the profession, educational requirements, and utilization requirements. Also, I hope that there will be more laws on certification and [that] people who have a rich education will obtain [prominent] jobs based on degrees and experience.



Related Article
Tips for Being a Successful Summer Associate

Now that you have been through the grueling recruiting process and have found a home for the summer, you are ready to jump on the law firm bandwagon as a summer associate. There are worse ways to spend a summer. My father always said that if he could be reincarnated, he wanted to be a summer associate in his ....

Five Tips for Becoming an Opportunity Maker

On-campus interviewing is over, and now the real fun begins. Whether the process was successful or not, here is a secret: you have more control over your career destiny than you realize. The key to success in the law is using your time in law school wisely because you will not have a similar chance again. ....

Becoming a Certified Paralegal

The field of law is exciting, demanding, and rewarding, but you don't have to be a lawyer to get in on the action. The paralegal profession offers challenges and opportunities, allows you to be an integral member of a legal team, and gives you the opportunity to choose from a variety of specialties, as well a ....
Rate This Article
   Current rating: 7   |   View top rated articles

Printable Version    Printable Version PDF Version    PDF Version Email to a Friend    Email to a Friend
Comment    Post A Comment View Comment    View Comment Discuss    Discuss

Featured Testimonials

LawCrossing has a good combination of small and large firms. That's something that I haven't seen in other sources.
Karina Y.

Facts

LawCrossing Fact #140: Add our site to your “favorites” list and check back daily for updates!

"We want to hear your thoughts. Please comment on this article (below)!"

Comments


Article ID: 3379    

Article Title: Tips for Becoming a Successful Paralegal

Comment not found for this article.

Comment Comment

Facebook comments:


total jobs
50,019
Upload Your Resume
New Legal Jobs in Last 7 Days
13,116
Facebook Twitter
job search tip
Can you list your own features and benefits? You'll need to sell' them in an interview.'
LawCrossing



The Job Search Program that Guarantees Success.
Our career counselor creates a tailor-made job search strategy for you and walks you through every step of the process.
Create your unique brand for just $2,495!
2014 Most Influential Legal Recruiter Rankings
Get the ranking

Your privacy is guaranteed. We will never give out, lease, or sell your personal information.


Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.