At Brown and Crouppen, paralegals are critical members of our team. Our personal injury attorneys rely on their honed research skills, sharp insights, and herculean work ethic as we all work for our clients’ success. Every positive outcome we achieve is the direct result of many hours of collaboration and teamwork between our paralegals and attorneys.
What Do Paralegals Do?
At a high level, paralegals support the work of attorneys in specific cases. This can take the form of researching case precedence, preparing legal documents, monitoring schedules, jury selection, and much more. In addition to ensuring that documents are researched and prepared properly, they’re often in charge of organizing everything so people can find exactly what they need as quickly as possible. Their ability to thrive under pressure and multi-task without sacrificing quality is a huge asset to our firm. They also do a lot of writing to support our cases.
Outside of their formal duties, our paralegals also lean on their interpersonal skills. Working with many different attorneys under the deadline of a trial means being quick to discern and react appropriately to how each person likes to operate and communicate. They also communicate with the courts, as well as working with opposing counsel, to make sure everyone knows what to expect in each courtroom and jurisdiction. Planning ahead, being flexible, detail-oriented, critical thinking—these are all vital skills that help paralegals contribute to courtroom wins or positive settlements.
How to Become a Paralegal
There are many paths to becoming a paralegal—and various areas of specialty. Once you’ve decided that you’re the kind of meticulous, hard-working individual who would be well-suited to this career, there are several ways to get started. You can pursue either a two-year or four-year degree, but that is not always necessary. As with many careers, some employers may have specific preferences. It’s possible a degree could open doors for you, many people also get started by working at law firms in other positions and demonstrating a solid work ethic and willingness to learn. A relevant work history can be just as valuable as formal education.
At Brown and Crouppen, we make our hiring decisions based on several factors about the applicant. We take note of formal education on resumes, but we have many successful paralegals on staff who do not have a paralegal degree or certificate.
If you decide to pursue a degree or a paralegal certificate, be sure to research programs thoroughly. Use LinkedIn to see where graduates from different programs end up working. Also, you can check out organizations such as the American Bar Association, which has a formal accreditation process for paralegal and legal assistant educational programs. Pursuing a career as a paralegal is a big decision, so be sure you find the best school for your needs.