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Being Sure About Yourself before Joining a Paralegal Program

published January 28, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing

( 3 votes, average: 4 out of 5)

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Many variables come into play when comparing paralegal training programs; in addition to the type and length of the program, cost, location, and reputation of the school must also be taken into account. So how do you begin to determine which program is right for you? Start by taking stock of yourself. You have to figure out what you need to get out of a paralegal training program in order to find the one that's right for you.

These are the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Education: How much education will you have completed prior to entering paralegal training? Are there areas of your education that are particularly strong or weak?

  • Choosing a specialty: Do you have work or educational experience that will make you particularly attractive to a certain kind of employer?

  • Where to get your training: Are you willing to move to a new city to receive paralegal training? Maybe you want to move; maybe you'll have to move.

  • Your schedule; your demands: How much are you wiling /able to pay for your paralegal training? Do you need other special services, such as help with transportation or childcare?
Analysis of Your Skills

Successful paralegals possess certain skills. You may have some of these skills now; if you don t, you need to seek out a paralegal training program that will teach you the skills you are lacking.

Regular skills expected of paralegals include communication skills, research skills, organization skills, prioritizing skills, independent thinking skills, analytical skills, investigative skills, computer skills et cetera.

For each skill, consider, whether, at this time, it is one you already have, one that needs some work, or one that you need to learn. It will help you get the most out of your paralegal training if you are honest with yourself now.

All of these are skills that a good paralegal program will address and give you the opportunity to brush up on. Organization, prioritizing, independent thinking, and the ability to concentrate on several projects at the same time are vital to a successful paralegal.

Legal research skills will be taught in paralegal programs, but if you feel that your general research skills are lacking, you will want to make sure your program affords you the opportunity to improve them. Analytical and investigative tasks that paralegals undertake are specialized to the law-and you'll learn them in a good program.

It will be easier for you, however, if you already have abilities in these areas. The point of mentioning these skills is for you to look at the work you need to do in order to succeed as a paralegal and make sure that the program you choose gives you the opportunities to do that work.

The two single most important components of an excellent paralegal program, in my opinion, are training in communications and in computers. It is absolutely vital that you are able to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. And in even the smallest, most rural law offices, computers and legal software are essential, and dependence on computer research is a part of everyday legal work.

Most weaknesses in your educational background can be overcome in a good paralegal training program. Be sure you check not only the classes offered in the paralegal program, but also the ones from which you can choose your electives. In addition, ask about the availability of tutoring in your weak areas.