Paralegals play a very important role in law firms all over the country. They do so much more than you would imagine – everything from administrative duties, to research for important cases. Working in law at any level requires an exceptional amount of knowledge. So, if you are considering an online para degree from George Washington University, be prepared for a large workload. Here are some of the skills you’ll need to be a great paralegal at a top law firm.
Organization is a big part of a paralegals job. There will be general office admin work you need to organize and keep on top of, but there is also the research. For some cases, you’ll need to research file upon file. All of the relevant research will need to be kept organized and well presented.
Attention to Detail
During the mountains of research, a paralegal is able to pick up on the tiniest of details, and decide whether they are relevant to the case they are working on. You’ll need to use these skills to detect patterns in evidence, which may sometimes be less than obvious.
Law firms must work to an exceptionally high ethical and moral standard. To be a paralegal you must show huge levels of integrity to your firm, the law and, beyond all else, to your client. Sometimes, the best decision for the client is not best for the firm, so the client must come first.
Paralegals play a key part in a client’s representing team. You must be a team player. Paralegals work under the supervision of a lawyer, completing tasks assigned to them for the good of the team. You will be the person that passes information between the lawyer, client and other members of the team. Often, at least publicly, the lawyer will receive most of the credit when a case goes well. You have to be OK with this.
The Ability to Work under Pressure
Close deadlines, huge amounts of research, and sometimes a client’s life, is in the hands of you and your team. The pressures on a paralegal can be huge. Successful paralegals thrive under this pressure, and do their best work when it matters the most.
Some level of IT skill seems to be essential in most industries today. Law is no different. You’ll need to be an expert researcher, using books, files and the internet. Then you’ll need great skills with programs like word, excel, databases, communication software, and presentation software.
You will need to think logically, to be able to communicate your findings in a concise and easy to understand manor. The way you explain something to a lawyer, or another member of the firm, can’t be the same as you would explain it to a client. You will also need great written and online communication skills.
If these are areas you consider your own strengths, and you are interested in pursuing an online paralegal degree, do some more research on the skills all successful paralegals need.