How to Advance on your Paralegal Career Path
Choosing the paralegal career path can be both challenging and rewarding. As a paralegal, you may assist lawyers with tasks associated with a file, or work for government agencies, insurance companies, or real estate companies. The skills you learn training for your paralegal career are transferable skills, and therefore, advancement opportunities and career development is a real possibility.
Career advancement and development look different for each Paralegal. For you, advancement might occur within your current law office. For others, advancement may be transitioning into a postsecondary educator position, attending law school to become an attorney, or joining a governmental agency.
What Does Ambition Look like in a Paralegal’s Career?
Whether you have two-year paralegal studies degree, or a four-year bachelor’s degree, there are always options for continued education and paralegal training programs. It is important that you expand your expertise in a specific area when looking to advance your career. Some areas to consider include eDiscovery, litigation, compliance, and healthcare. Having specialized knowledge lead to possibilities for advancement.
Ask for challenging assignments
Once you have additional training under your belt, let your supervisor know and ask for more complex projects. More often than not, your supervisor won’t know about your recently acquired knowledge, which means a missed opportunity for you to provide real value. Ask for tasks and/or projects that showcase your expertise and enhance your ability to advance. Try not to bury yourself in mindless tasks that will take away from your ability to perform on projects that will help advance your career.
It may come as a surprise, but the paralegal career path is a technological one. If you’re not familiar with case management software and remote software, you may want to consider taking educational some courses to get a handle on these crucial tools. More and more, offices are moving to case management systems to help organize and build within the firm. Remote software is being utilized more as offices are allowing staff to work from home. Take it upon yourself to learn the software systems. Whether you are looking to advance within your current field, or looking to transition into a new role, this knowledge will set you apart from the competition.
Understand personality types and communication styles
Take it upon yourself to truly master an understanding of how people with different personalities and communication styles impact the work environment. If you are looking to advance as a paralegal, it’s non-negotiable to communicate with other staff members in a manner that fits with their communication style. This is important for maintaining an open and respectful work environment. If this is a skill that you understand and utilize, your supervisor will take notice of how others respond to you and how well you maintain the team environment.
The Paralegal Career Path Within a Law Office
As a successful paralegal, you may seek to advance within your current law office. This may be transitioning into a leadership role, such as senior paralegal and/or managing paralegal. In this type of advancement, you may be responsible for assisting and guiding other paralegals within the law firm, training new employees, and representing your law firm within different organizations. You may also be responsible for evaluating the firm’s current guidelines and preparing information to enhance the guidelines to better fit the current file process. With the role of senior paralegal and/or managing paralegal, the projects and tasks that you complete may become more firm based tasks, rather than specific, file-based tasks.
The Paralegal Career Path Outside a Law Office
You may choose to further your new career opportunities outside a law office, working as a library technician and/or a postsecondary educator. As a library technician, you would have the option of working in a law library, academic library, museum, medical center and/or government agency. With this type of advancement, you would utilize strengths such as organization, legal research, writing, and technology skills.
As a postsecondary educator, you would have the option of working as an online educator and/or full-time faculty. This direction for a paralegal, means using strengths, such as organization, leadership, training and teaching, and more. A postsecondary educator teaches within the Paralegal Studies program and is required to have a bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies, as well as many years of experience. This is a great advancement opportunity for anyone who likes the idea of helping others understand the role and duties of a paralegal.
The career of a paralegal may be different for many, but the advancement potential is available and growing. If you are looking to advance, determine your path and seek the education necessary to succeed.