Are you looking to know how to become a paralegal? Did you know that Paralegals are the backbone of law firms all across the country. Their tireless work is what allows lawyers to be fully prepared to go into a courtroom and fight for their clients. A good paralegal is the first line of defense. Firms are always in need of those who are up to this task.
How To Become a Paralegal
People are asking themselves how exactly they can become a part of the legal profession, and specifically how to become a paralegal. This desire may come from a legal background, a love of the law, or a deep affinity for shows like The Good Wife, Law and Order, or SHe-Hulk. Regardless of the genesis of a vision of yourself as a paralegal, it’s important to know that there are steps you can take to further this goal.
What is a Paralegal: Breaking Down The Job
The job of a paralegal is to support staff for the law firm for which they work. They focus more on legal duties and research than the trial aspect of a case. Paralegals are the ones that assist the lawyer in the firm with the planning, development, and management of cases. They conduct legal research on behalf of the clients, gather facts, review information, conduct administrative work, and even go to court at times with the attorney. Most notably, paralegals go to court in matters of divorce and child custody.
Additionally, it is demanded of everyone working as a paralegal, that their writing and time management skills be superb. Attorneys rely on their paralegals to track their caseload, and effectively manage it so that the attorney may focus on the details of the case itself. There is always an overflow of paperwork associated with any case, and even more so for the ones that go to trial; paralegals are the ones to navigate this overflow. One step of how to become a paralegal would certainly be to perfect some of these skills.
It’s also important to note how a paralegal differs from a legal assistant. These are not the same positions and should not be treated as such. While Legal Assistants may perform administrative duties, they are also tasked with performing legal tasks. This is not the case for a Paralegal. On average, a Paralegal makes just over $50,000 a year which is slightly less than a Legal Assistant.
Requirements Needed to Become a Paralegal
Technically, there are no licensing hurdles for paralegals, but that does not mean there is no process. Law is a complicated field, and many paralegals are working towards becoming lawyers themselves. It takes years of hard work and dedication to properly prepare and educate yourself for this kind of job.
Paralegals must fulfill education requirements before they will even be considered for the job. Arguably this is the most critical step for someone wondering how to become a paralegal. Many states require a Bachelor’s Degree in a paralegal studies or related field. Along with this comes 6 months of in-house training before you can become a paralegal.
However, it is important to remember that paralegal requirements can differ from state to state; and you should check what your general requirements may be.
You’ll want to complete a Paralegal Certification, and make sure that you meet your state’s requirements to hold the position. Although, this is optional depending on the state. It can take anywhere from 2 to 7 years to become a full-fledged paralegal, depending on where you are in this process.
It will be important when submitting yourself for job opportunities that you have a resume that is accurate, and grammatically correct. As well, and perhaps most importantly, a resume should clearly showcase you, establish your goals, and highlight what you bring to the table. Don’t be shy presenting any accomplishments you can bring to the forefront of an employer’s mind.
Take the First Step Towards Becoming a Paralegal
Now that you know how to become a paralegal, perhaps you can see how paralegals are vitally important to any successful law firm. They are essential to the winning strategies of any firm. Good paralegals, with comprehensive writing and administrative skills, are always in high demand.
Becoming a paralegal can also be a stepping stone into more demanding roles in the legal profession. If you so choose. You may also choose to reach out to a local attorney in order to gain their wisdom and insight into what makes a good paralegal.