5 Key Traits of a Successful Paralegal
- Interpersonal Skills
- Excellent Communication
- Computer and Tech Skills
- Research Talents
- Strong Organization and Time Management
A paralegal performs a wide variety of tasks to assist lawyers, and these five characteristics of a paralegal are essential to professional satisfaction and doing well in this type of work. While these skills can come naturally to a person, it may also be necessary to practice or work on them to keep them strong. Each of these five key characteristics of a paralegal is important, and understanding them could help a person decide if this type of work is well-suited to their skills and personality type.
1. Interpersonal Skills
A paralegal will need to have a strong working relationship with many different people. During an important court case, a legal team may be under a lot of stress. Some people become quickly angered, frustrated or short-tempered when they are under stress. A paralegal will need to handle these situations with grace and be able to deal with different personality types. Lawyers often have strong personalities, and a paralegal will need to navigate around them respectfully and professionally.
2. Excellent Communication
Paralegals may need to communicate with different people daily. They might have to talk with a client of the law firm, speak with the legal assistants and lawyers. In some cases, they may need to converse with court administrators, law enforcement and others related to the legal system. Paralegals should be able to communicate clearly and concisely orally in person and over the phone. They should also be clear and concise in their written communications.
3. Computer and Tech Skills
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals also need to have strong computer and technology skills. They need to use computers to research laws and litigation details. The computers and specific software packages are also used for documenting the research and litigation processes. A paralegal may use software or apps for organizing important documents for a court case, and they will need to know how to quickly access those documents.
4. Research Talents
Much of a paralegal’s time will be spent researching. They may have to look up some past court cases that set the precedent for a current one. They may also have to research laws related to a case that their supervising lawyer is working on and provide the lawyer with the specific information related to the case. A paralegal will need to document where and when they found the information. Paralegals also prepare drafts of legal documents and give them to attorneys for review and approval.
5. Strong Organization and Time Management
One court case or client could involve hundreds of hours of research and hundreds or even thousands of documents. The paralegal will need to keep all of this organized. They will also need to prioritize their time in accordance to the next steps in the legal process. To support the supervising attorney, the paralegal will also need to adapt quickly when a deadline changes or is unexpectedly imposed by a judge.
Related Resource: 15 Affordable Online Associate’s Degrees in Paralegal Studies
These are not the only five characteristics that a paralegal should have, but they are important. Recognizing what they are could help a person decide if this is the right career, and it gives them a chance to hone their skills or work on certain aspects of their character. Becoming familiar with these five characteristics of a paralegal could help a person have a more satisfying and successful career.