The Greek prefix para has several meanings, including: “beside,” “alongside of,” and “near.” The paralegal’s role is to work beside you as an integral part of the legal team. Any law professional would tell you that they’d be lost without the critical work of paralegals. It’s a role that involves drafting pertinent documents, conducting legal research, and speaking directly to clients. It’s not a job that anyone can do well. In fact, it’s a particular job that requires refined qualities and requirements.
Is your firm currently hiring for a paralegal position, and you’re unsure of what to look for in candidates? We’ve created a list of traits that experienced legal and professional service recruiters always place at the top of their lists when hiring paralegals for law offices.
A Certified Resume
You may already know that almost anyone can become a paralegal these days by taking a quick certification course. While these programs are typically legitimate and require a lot of effort to complete, unfortunately, they’re not always standardized or recognized. Depending on which part of the country you live in, to be a paralegal requires formalized education from an official institution. While sifting through resumes, always reference candidates’ educational backgrounds. You’ll want to verify that their schools are officially standardized and certified from an ABA-approved paralegal course.
An Independent Work Ethic
Paralegals work independently with reasonable supervision from their attorney superiors. That means, while your paralegals work alongside you, they complete much of their work on their own time. An excellent paralegal will research, write, edit legal documents independently, and be a passionate self-starter.
You’re looking for candidates with a proven track record of initiating projects and tasks without needing much encouragement from other team members. They exhibit confidence and feel comfortable left to their own devices.
To be successful in the legal profession requires the ability to effectively manage significant amounts of data and documents, both digital and physical. Maintaining such massive amounts of information is often left to the paralegal department. A paralegal must be extremely organized and not feel overwhelmed by sorting through large stacks of paper or opening dozens of files in an email.
A law firm heavily relies on the paralegal team’s organizational skills, so asking about their work processes and ensuring that they’re attentive to detail is critical to do during interviews.
Play It Safe
Many firms utilize the power of professional recruitment agencies that specialize in law services to find paralegal team members. Experienced legal recruiters can find the perfect employee for your firm with ease because they’ve got their finger on the pulse of the legal candidate market. The right agency will have excellent industry insight and knowledge and be capable of matching the best paralegal candidate to your firm, based on a candidate’s experience and your needs.
A paralegal is the heart of any law firm because of the incredible support they provide to attorneys at any given time. That’s why it’s so important that such employees are certified and organized self-starters. Once you know an individual has these qualities, you’ll know they’re perfect to work beside you and the team.