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How to Be a Paralegal

published June 22, 2009

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( 7 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
What Does it Take?

Before you jump right into the field, consider the responsibilities that may be asked of you. You may be called upon to summarize legal documents, or to do research on records or on legal precedents. You may also be put in charge of coordinating research, as well as checking legal forms for their accuracy. In many cases, you will be asked to prepare reports and correspondence for attorneys. This can add up to a lot of paper work, so strong typing, grammar and writing skills are important.


Positive communication skills are also necessary to perform this job. Not only will you have to interact with the people that you are working with, but you will need to be able to talk to clients, and witnesses as well.

As most legal cases deal with tight deadlines, it is also important that paralegals perform well under stress. Other skills that paralegals need to posses include: basic computer skills and knowledge of legal terminology and principles, as it is important to understand the law that a paralegal works to uphold.

Training and Education

It is not necessary to receive formal training in order to become a paralegal.  Some attorneys and law offices prefer to train their paralegals themselves, and will hire a candidate with little training or no education.  However, with that said, in today’s economy, and with the job market the way it is, the more education that you have, the better chance you have to be hired.

There are hundreds of paralegal training programs offered by colleges and universities in the United States. About a fourth of these programs are backed by the American Bar Association (ABA).  While it isn’t required that your education be in a program that is approved by the ABA, it can be beneficial.

University and college paralegal programs can include two-year associate degree programs; Bachelor degree programs; and certificate programs that can be obtained in as little as a handful of months. Each college or university’s requirements will vary, so be sure to understand the requirements specific to the school you are considering. 

A Career as a Paralegal

While the economy is suffering right now, it can be difficult to find employment as a paralegal. However, the outlook for paralegals may be improving as employers are realizing that paralegals can perform a great deal of the research that many attorneys will do for cases, but at a fraction of the cost.

published June 22, 2009

( 7 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.