Posted by Robert Half Legal on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - 08:00 | Follow me
Are you gearing your career development path toward becoming a paralegal? If your answer is yes, then congratulations. You’re positioning yourself for an excellent career move. Robert Half Legal’s 2016 Salary Guide reports that hiring in the legal field continues to improve, resulting in an increased demand for many legal professionals, including paralegals.
But how do you become a paralegal? Let’s take a look at four steps you need to take to improve your chances of securing the position you want.
1. Get schooled.
Unless you have years of experience working in legal roles or areas of specialization—such as real estate and intellectual property—employers will give preference to candidates with two- or four-year degrees. And while your degree doesn’t have to be from a program specific to paralegals, that certainly couldn’t hurt.
2. Keep learning.
Investing in professional development is an excellent way to further your career path, so make certain you work it into your career development plan. While not every employer will seek paralegals who possess a certificate of completion from a paralegal education program approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), many will. Additionally, completing paralegal education coursework can help set you apart from the competition when you’re applying for jobs.
Another excellent career development strategy is to obtain continuing legal education (CLE) credits. Not all paralegals are required to keep up with CLE, but earning credits shows employers you’re truly interested in the shifting nature of the legal field and are willing to go the extra mile to provide more value to your firm.
3. Know your options.
The nature of a paralegal position varies depending on the size of a legal practice and its areas of specialization. Before you start looking for paralegal jobs, you need to understand the range of roles and which positions will allow you to maximize your skills and experience. There are many options to consider, including eDiscovery and litigation support jobs, compliance and contract administration, corporate transactional work and even managing other support staff members. One great way to figure out which position is best for you is to work with a specialized legal recruiter.
4. Ask for more work.
Whether you’re already in a law office and want to transition to a paralegal position, or in another industry aiming to move to the legal field, you need to strategize when it comes to career development. Paralegals provide essential legal support to lawyers, so it will help your cause to show you’ve got what it takes to succeed in the field. Developing a solid track record of dependability, attention to detail and adeptness at anticipating the needs of others is a great way to demonstrate your ability to own a paralegal title.
These steps along your career development path will go faster and take you farther when you always remember an essential aspect of any career path: networking. Make sure you’re forging connections throughout your education, professional development and work experience so you can arrive at your goal of landing your dream job.
Also essential to making the most progress on your career development path is knowing your value as a paralegal. For up-to-date information on hiring trends and job search strategies, download a copy of Robert Half Legal’s 2016 Salary Guide.