Paralegals are critical to the success of legal teams, and their roles continue to expand. Today, paralegals are responsible for supporting everything from legal research and trial preparation to contracts, patent filings, regulatory matters and eDiscovery projects. This opens up a world of professional development opportunities to advance your paralegal career, whether you’re working remotely or in the office.
If you’re a paralegal looking to climb the ladder, here are four pieces of career advice that will help drive your advancement to the next level:
Keep learning to move up
Today, most law firms and corporate legal departments seek paralegals with a bachelor’s degree and a certificate of completion from an American Bar Association-approved paralegal education program. Even those paralegals who’ve achieved this level of schooling can enhance their credentials with continuing legal education (CLE) courses, seminars and paralegal training programs.
If this career advice prompts you to return to school, focus on expanding your expertise in hot practice areas, such as compliance, corporate law, litigation and real estate. Having specialized knowledge in these areas will help enhance your paralegal career advancement opportunities. Be sure to ask your employer whether they offer financial assistance for legal education; many firms do, in order to help employees further their education and expand their skill set.
Look for paralegal jobs in your city — or search for remote paralegal jobs.
Take on challenging assignments
One of the quickest ways to advance your paralegal career is to successfully tackle complex assignments. However, your supervisor isn’t going to hand over challenging projects unless you have relevant expertise. This is where continuing education comes into play. If you’ve recently completed a training course or have been studying up on a particular practice area, let your supervisor know, and mention you feel you’re ready to take on tougher, more specialized assignments.
Get technical and build skills
According to the Salary Guide from Robert Half, employers are seeking paralegals with expert technical skills, including advanced knowledge of Microsoft Office and proficiency in litigation software, online document management, e-filing and billing systems. If you haven’t yet mastered these skills, consider signing up for a training program or an online course. Once you’ve learned a new program, let your boss know. It could open the door to more challenging paralegal assignments and even promotional opportunities.
Specialize in a hot practice area
These days, legal employers are increasingly seeking paralegals with expertise in a specialized practice area.
What are the most in-demand practice areas right now? Commercial law, litigation, real estate and intellectual property are yielding the most job opportunities at law firms. In corporate legal departments, skilled professionals are needed to support increased workloads related to compliance, contract management, corporate transactions, labor and employment, and mergers and acquisitions, according to the Salary Guide.
Curious about paralegal salaries?
Paralegals with specialized knowledge in these areas are not only extremely attractive to employers right now, they’re also earning higher salaries and often receiving multiple job offers.
The Salary Guide will show you paralegal salaries by years of experience, including salaries for advanced roles like supervising paralegal and paralegal manager.
These days, there are countless career advancement opportunities for educated, experienced and driven paralegals. For those who continually expand their knowledge about new technologies and hot practice areas, the sky is the limit.