Posted by Lisa Hamilton on Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 00:00
Looking for a new paralegal job or legal assistant role? When it comes to hiring for paralegal positions, the majority (66 percent) of lawyers we interviewed said knowledge of a specific practice area is the most desirable attribute. Technological proficiency ranked second with 13 percent of the survey response.
Lawyers were asked, "Which attribute makes paralegals the most marketable?" Their responses:
- Practice area knowledge (66 percent)
- Technological proficiency (13 percent)
- Length of employment (7 percent)
- Associate or bachelor's degree (7 percent)
- Paralegal certification (4 percent)
Source: Robert Half Legal survey of 200 lawyers at the largest law firms and corporations in the United States
Since today's market favors specialists over generalists, highlighting in-demand practice area expertise should bring your resume to the top of the stack. Be sure to call attention to the specific skills and expertise that make you the ideal fit for a legal job opening so that a prospective employer will know that you can hit the ground running if they hire you.
Following these career advice tips can help enhance your marketability:
- Conduct a legal career assessment. List your actual accomplishments and current skills. Determine what may be holding you back from advancing professionally.
- Fill in the gaps. What skills do you need to develop? Are your law office technology skills rusty? Is project or case management a weakness? Take classes or online courses to address these shortcomings.
- Stay on the cutting edge. Enhance your potential value to prospective employers by regularly attending local legal networking events or bar association conferences. Attend seminars to stay abreast of developments in the legal profession and also to make new contacts.
- Consider project or pro bono work. Gain exposure to a variety of law firms, corporations and practice areas by taking temporary assignments. Don't overlook volunteering with nonprofit or legal aid organizations -- pro bono work also can help you gain experience and expand your skill set.
- Tap others' expertise. Mentors and other professional colleagues can help you identify any gaps in your skills or experience, make professional introductions, and may be able to provide legal job leads.
What characteristics do you think are most important to employers when they are looking to make new hires and fill paralegal jobs?