Paralegals need to master a range of skills to enable them to gain a competitive advantage in the legal sector. The following skills will help to prove competency and to make you stand out:
Good communication is vital in gaining client’s trust and confidence. When interviewing new clients, taking witness statements, liaising with court personnel, or discussing a commercial deal, the ability to communicate effectively and clearly, using layman’s language is essential.
Organisational skills encompass all areas of the job and not just physical documents but includes mastering technology, software applications, case management systems and of course time management.
Paralegals need to master writing and drafting. Clear and concise communications both of a simple and complex nature will be required. Commercial Paralegals will need drafting skills for agreements, contracts and alike, whereas litigation paralegals draft pleadings, discovery documents, briefs etc. Writing is a vital part of a Paralegals role.
Paralegals need to be able to carry out legal research, internet research as well as the ability to use legal research databases such as Lexis Nexis, Westlaw or similar. This is a core competency for paralegals and vital to their role.
In today’s legal market, technology skills are of high value to any legal practice. Technology is playing a role in every aspect of legal practice and those that have mastered skills in the use of legal technology will be attractive to employers. There are also new paralegal roles in litigation support, e-discovery, GDPR to name but a few.
6. Attention to detail
Paralegals need to have good attention to detail. It is often a Paralegal’s role to verifying legal authority in briefs, document review, title searches, witness statements etc that require painstaking attention to detail. Paralegals who work in litigation will be preparing documents for trial and will need to ensure that numbering numbering of exhibits, checking court dates, filing deadlines are all managed
7. Team Work
To provide legal services in a timely and cost-effective manor, Paralegals need to work as part of a legal team and also to work collaboratively with outside parties such as opposing legal teams, clients and other authoritative bodies. Teamworking is a vital skill that needs co-operation, understanding of others points of view and a will to work with others even if they are on an opposing side!
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