Skill Enhancement for Paralegals: Legal Writing and Public Speaking

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Paralegals and their supervisors are constantly frustrated because most paralegal training courses are concerned only with the basics. Additionally, one of the constant sources of frustration is the lack of legal writing skills and non-comprehension of ‘legalese.' As paralegals have to shoulder more and more legal work, the focus on paralegal training is shifting inside law firms. For example big firms like Clifford Chance LLP have rosters listing individual trainers to enhance the skills of their paralegals. Due to the lack of training courses other than courses offered on legal writing run by law schools under extended campus programs, law firm paralegal training is gaining importance.

Planning for a Solo Practice
Legal Writing Skills for Paralegals

Even in case of initial recruitment of paralegals, today, employers want to see proficient writing samples. As stated by Nancy Caine Harbour of Eastern Michigan University, “A paralegal's inability to write a coherent sentence will undermine the paralegal's credibility and the attorney's faith in his or her work product.”

In an interview in 2009, Lynda Wertheim, then director of legal assistants for White & Case New York, made the same observation, “I think writing skills have become diluted over the years. We provide training in writing skills for paralegals.” Even major firms like White & Case now have training programs to enhance legal writing skills for paralegals, and as expected, the same courses also act as a screening process. For instance, if you succeed at the top of your training class, you have better chances, if you fail to prove your competence, whether you will continue as an employee becomes doubtful.

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