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Tips for Becoming a Successful Paralegal

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Ever wonder what it takes to be a successful paralegal? Well, imagine being a 'paralegal hunter.' Penny Cierzan knows all too well how that part of the legal world works, and she knows what it takes to be a top-notch legal staff member. After all, this married mother of two has a bachelor's degree in English and paralegal studies, a paralegal certificate, and a Juris Doctor. After obtaining her J.D. from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, MN, Cierzan opted out of practicing law and decided to take a different route.

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.

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