Being a paralegal has never been as attractive a career path as it is today. The US government projects that the demand for new paralegals will only continue to grow over the next few years. Consequently, the average annual wage for professionals in this field remains at a competitive level. Indeed, when it comes to the legal profession, this is one of the most interesting routes to venture into.
As with any career option, however, the truth is that the path is not for everyone. You have to make sure that this job fits your interests and your strengths. The following is a brief discussion of the three things you will need to become a paralegal:
Attitude, interest, or drive – call it what you will, but remember that you need the proper mental preparation to become a good paralegal. Given its being a legal profession, you must have a genuine interest in studying the law. It’s also important to be driven to provide the most plausible results for each client. Without the right attitude, all other credentials would appear insufficient.
You need adequate knowledge of how legal processes work. This is where certificate programs come in, as these courses provide you a way to understand the law and its different facets. Such programs will also equip you with the knowledge about what a paralegal does on a daily basis.
Note that you can also become a paralegal without a certificate. That is, if you can find a post that will provide you an internship or on-the-job training.
Nonetheless, those who have certificates definitely have an edge over other aspiring paralegals. As The Center for Legal Studies puts it, those who take a certificate course are “able to bill their hours to clients at paralegal rates,” on top of being competent enough for all paralegal duties.
Lastly, you need the right set of skills. You should know how to organize documents and data properly, as well as conduct research as part of the preparation for upcoming trials. It also helps to be an effective communicator, as it will be part of your job to interact with clients and other parties related to the case.
These three things are what you need to become a successful and efficient paralegal. From that point forward, there’s no other way but up the career ladder of the legal profession.