We asked paralegals and attorneys if paralegals need to specialize in two or three areas before being hired by a law firm. They responded with their opinions, which varied greatly. We hope you enjoy their responses.
This is an excellent question. Unfortunately, the answer depends on the law firm that requires the services of a paralegal. Many firms will want to train their new paralegals in their way of undertaking the multitude of tasks that they have. Other firms will want some level of specialization before considering an applicant for employment. Thus, paralegal studies students should take classes in all of the areas offered in their programs to determine what area of law they want to specialize in. What skills are you best in? Paralegal students should find ways to talk to hiring firms, practicing lawyers, and their teachers about what the various jobs entail, what a typical day looks like, and what skills the other paralegals have that work best. It is well worth the time to find a congenial firm.
This is always a plus, but not always necessary. Paralegals tend to
specialize in one area of the law, but can easily learn new areas of law
that they may be unfamiliar with to best serve the firm and their clients.
Knowledge is power and with time comes experience in any field. It all
depends on what the firm is looking for in a paralegal to best build an
effective work team to serve its clientele in the very best possible
Andrea D. Hills represents The Law Firm of Michael B. Brehne in Orlando, Florida.
No. While it may help to have experience or a basic understanding of a
couple of areas, they would not need to specialize in any specific area
before being hired by a law firm. Assuming that the paralegal is
intelligent, a quick learner, and able to do basic tasks such as word
processing, he/she can be and will be hired by a law firm. The big key is
taking your skills and applying them to the area that the law firm
Hickey & Turim
Being willing and able to work in different practice areas makes a paralegal more valuable to a law firm and its clients. As a real estate paralegal
who also assists corporate and health care attorneys, I enjoy the challenge of learning new areas of law and being able to help outside my practice group when needed.
Amy Stephenson is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal
at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP
in Raleigh, NC.
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