Top 10 Paralegal Books (Yes, books!) Every Paralegal Should Have On Their Desk in 2018

You’ve likely discovered by now that there’s a lot that goes into keeping up with the pulse of a thriving career. From researching different paralegal programs to discovering leads for potential jobs—not to mention a host of obligations outside of your career like caring for your children and getting the bills paid on time—your slate probably feels pretty full right about now. Who has time to read paralegal books when we are so busy at work and at home? 

How can you be sure to uncover the rest of that coveted industry info that you haven’t yet tapped into? Don’t worry—there are plenty of industry pros who have created an array of paralegal books with people like you in mind!

It can be difficult, though, to find what you’re looking for with thousands of paralegal books at your fingertips. To save you the trouble, we narrowed it down to a must-read list. So sit back and let some industry professionals teach you everything from résumé tips to how to locate that perfect paralegal job.

1. The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style

Provides a comprehensive guide to the essential rules of legal writing. Unlike most style or grammar guides, it focuses on the special needs of legal writers. answering a wide spectrum of questions about grammar and style both rules as well as exceptions. Also gives detailed, authoritative advice on punctuation, capitalization, spelling, footnotes, and citations, with illustrations in a legal context. Designed for law students, law professors, practicing lawyers and judges, the work emphasizes the ways in which legal writing differs from other styles of technical writing. Its how to sections deal with editing and proofreading, numbers and symbols, and overall document design.

2. Black's Law Dictionary

For more than a century Black's has been the gold standard for the language of the law. Today it is the most widely cited law book in the world. Edited by Bryan A. Garner, the world s leading legal lexicographer, the 9th Edition is the most authoritative, comprehensive law dictionary ever published. It contains more than 45,000 terms and includes 2,000 more terms than the 8th Edition and 19,000 more than the 7th Edition including click fraud, Code Adam, collaborative law, ecoterrorism, environmental tort, friendly subpoena, happy-slapping, honor crime, secret detention, Schumer box, and super precedent. 

3. Managing E-Discovery and ESI: From Pre-Litigation to Trial

The legal landscape and litigation have changed markedly in the last decade.This book identifies the key issues related to ESI--pre-litigation management, preservation, collection, processing, review, production, and use in deposition and at trial--and provides clear, practical guidance to litigators. The book is divided into eight parts that follow the sequence from the pre-litigation stage through trial.

4. Paralegal Today: The Essentials

Designed for anyone considering a career as a paralegal, the 7th edition of PARALEGAL TODAY: THE ESSENTIALS provides you with a comprehensive introduction to the legal system through real-world examples, practical applications, ethical dilemmas, and hands-on assignments. With thorough coverage of the basic, key areas of paralegal studies, this text ensures that you will develop a comprehensive understanding of the laws in our society, the importance of ethical and professional responsibility, and the skills needed to thrive in the legal environment.

5. Lessons from the Top Paralegal Experts: The 15 Most Successful Paralegals and What You Can Learn from Them

The primary goal of the book is to help students and professionals learn hands-on techniques directly from paralegal leaders in the field. These top paralegal experts share the secrets that have helped them become the best of the best in their profession. The top fifteen paralegal experts helped to expand the paralegal profession and improve the efficiency of performing paralegal duties including creativity, leadership, expertise in their specialty, technical skills, knowledge, mentoring, and organization. There is a definite need to provide paralegal students with further instructions to help them become more productive and efficient.

6.  Tips for Navigating the Real World Day of a Paralegal

Of course, you should grab a copy of our own Ebook! Tips for Navigating the "Real World" Day of a Paralegal” is full of tips, tricks, and techniques to guide you in the right direction to becoming a successful paralegal. I answer those questions that weigh on a new paralegal's mind! 

What's it really like to work for an attorney?
What if I make a mistake? 
How do I handle clients? 
How do I deal with co-counsel and opposing counsel? 
What is going to trial really like? 
How do I keep up with legal technology? 
My informational ebook is here to help guide you as you start your career! Don't worry, we aren't going to rehash all that stuff they taught you in this book you will learn about the REAL WORLD of being a busy paralegal!

7. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation

An essential guide for lawyers and paralegals for constructing citations, covering the format of citations from a variety of legal sources, including court cases, statutes, books, periodicals, electronic media, and international documents

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (2018 Edition) with the full Advisory Committee Notes, selected statutes (venue and jurisdiction of federal district courts, along with removal from state courts), and all official forms for civil suits in federal district courts.  

his self-paced guide to citation form is a perfect match for any basic Legal Writing and Research course. Cite-Checker is a short, concise book providing students with everything they need to learn and master proper citation form according to The Bluebook. A readable and pragmatic guide, this valuable text offers thorough explanations of important concepts as well as self-checking exercises to help students master the concepts discussed.

Written by authors with extensive experience in placing paralegal students in successful internships and permanent jobs, Internships through Employment: The Paralegal Job Hunter's Handbook is the only text in the field to focus on internships and permanent employment.
Divided into three sections: internships, finding the right permanent job, and ensuring success in the workplace this concise handbook offers practical information with a variety of samples including cover and thank-you letters, sample resumes, and sample job-hunting portfolio pages valuable advice not covered elsewhere, such as how to quit a job without burning bridges, how to interview by telephone, how to get around the 'no reference' rule, how to respond to online job postings, as well as realistic advice on inappropriate workplace behaviors and ethical concerns.

This text is unique in that it is written from the perspective of a supervising attorney who now is a paralegal educator. It is a career guide for paralegal students and new paralegals that provides insight into what law firms really want from their paralegal staff. Real-life law office situations are described and analyzed to give students the help they need to overcome the most common obstacles. Students not only learn from the author, they also get practical, first-hand advice from paralegals themselves. 

Paralegals: Conflict Screenings and Job Mobility

How to protect client information when changing jobs?
When a paralegal has previously been exposed to privileged client information, his or her new employer may be disqualified from representing a client, if a court finds that confidential information was shared.
This disqualification rule can cause the firm to lose its client. As a consequence, the client has to spend more money and time hiring a new firm. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to switch from one firm to another for a paralegal. Conflict screenings are used to prevent potential missteps. 

paralegals and conflict of interest

The notion of attorney-client privilege is at the core of the American legal profession.
The legal obligations of the lawyers and firms involved are clearly set out in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.1
However, the mentioned legal and ethical obligations are not as well defined when the client conflict arises from hiring a paralegal who was privy to confidential client information at his or her previous firm.
—— Applicable rules for paralegals——
It is common knowledge that the normal operation of a law office exposes confidential professional information to [paralegals] of the office.” 2
Attorney standards applied to paralegals? The ABA Model Rules and Guidelines
A hiring firm must prevent a paralegal with confidential information from working on any matters that would breach this confidentiality.3 If a paralegal obtains confidential information and then subsequently shares it with his or her new law firm, "disqualification is mandatory."4
Rules of the paralegal profession
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (“NFPA”) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (“NALA”) both have codes of professional ethics that bind their members. With respect to preserving client confidentiality, the requirements of these codes are similar to those of the ABA Model Rules.
  • NALA Code of Ethics in its Canon 7 states that “[a] paralegal must protect the confidences of a client and must not violate any rule or statute now in effect or hereafter enacted controlling the doctrine of privileged communications between a client and an attorney.”
  • NFPA Model Code states that “a paralegal shall preserve all confidential information provided by the client or acquired from other sources before, during, and after the course of the professional relationship. ”5
—— Courts point of view regarding paralegals——
Some courts in deciding disqualification cases have treated paralegals just like attorneys and applied the Models Rules just as they would do to attorneys.
  • For example, in Owens v. First Family Financial Services, Inc.,6 the court presumed the paralegal had shared confidences with the current employer and disqualified the team even if there was no evidence that the paralegal had knowledge of the case or worked on the case at the new firm.
  • And in Koulisis v. Rivers,7 a Florida Court even considered that the presumption should be stronger for paralegals. It argued that because an attorney may face disciplinary proceedings if he or she were to break client's confidences, paralegals who are not subject to this discipline may not be as deterred!
  • Other courts treat paralegals differently form attorneys. In In re American Home Products Corporation,8 the Supreme Court Of Texas explicitly recognized a distinction between lawyers and non-lawyers and allowed the firm to rebut the presumption that the paralegal shared the information with the firm.
  • Additionally, courts have declined to “set … out the specific procedures to be implemented in such situations to ensure that non-lawyer employees preserve the confidentiality of information.”9and have not explicitly developed instructions telling law firms how to properly screen paralegals for conflicts.
—— What are the consequences for us? ——
We can only survive in our job if we can benefit from job mobility and create a successful career for us.
And courts have even recognized that we do not have the same level of job security as lawyers or other professionals.10
Thus, these disqualification rules can have a great impact on our ability to find employment with a different law firm. If a law firm determines that a paralegal has or may have a conflict, that paralegal may automatically miss out on a job opportunity and may have therefore a more difficult time finding new employment.
And the problem is worse for paralegals working in small or medium-sized markets, as there are fewer potential firms to move to and many firms represent opposing sides in disputes.
However, some scholars question whether the profession should be concerned with paralegals retaining this information to the same extent that it is concerned with lawyers protecting client confidences. Lawyers may be more likely to pass on the information because of their intimate knowledge of how valuable it can be for their careers. For us, we know that our new firm will not offer us a partner position, no matter what, so why break ethics rules?11
—— The troublesome state of conflict screening ——
The effectiveness of conflict screening is uncertain. Studies show that potential conflicts are drastically underreported. Many conflict questionnaires are bare-bone and lack standardization. For example, it seems that most questionnaires ask for a client list, but a lot do not require further information.
It is therefore probably time to improve this conflict screening process by shifting some of the screening burden to the former firm.
For example, it has been suggested that the former firm should be compelled to pro-actively inform the other firm of all client matters in which the paralegal would have a potential conflict based on his or her previous work.
This would be a more efficient way of dealing with the issue than relying on paralegals to devise their own methods for tracking and relaying information to their new firm for each and every matter that they worked on in the past and that may present a conflict.
—— Greater accountability? ——
With the recent economic recession, job options are more limited than usual for many paralegals, This may be the perfect time address these issues in a systematic way that would also make transitions to new jobs easier.

Paralegals as Project Managers: A Fresh Perspective on Your Career

Paralegals are definitely project managers, so why not think of yourself as one?  I am pleased that the legal industry is slowly but surely beginning to embrace Legal Project Management techniques, even if some attorneys are being forced to the table by their corporate clients.

Managing a project is like managing a case

Every case and each part of a case can and should be viewed as a project. A project is a temporary, non-routine endeavor limited by scope, time, and cost that creates a unique product, service, or result. Projects have a start and an end and they are unique. Paralegals are drafting a motion, performing research, working on discovery, or a trial –all of these are projects or sub-projects of a larger case. Project management principles will help get the work done more effectively and more efficiently.

Who’s a project manager?

Project management, defined, is the structured application of skill, knowledge, tools and techniques to organize project activities and efficiently bring about a desired outcome. Paralegals do this day in and day out as they apply their skills to casework at law firms and corporations around the world.
Paralegals and legal assistants are as much project managers as any attorney leading a case. A project manager is the person possessing the applicable skills, knowledge, and talent who is assigned by an organization and responsible for overseeing and actively managing, among other things, the scope, time, and cost of a project to achieve project objectives. A project manager, like paralegals, must manage the interests and expectations of stakeholders and ensure that the project is completed at scope, on time and within budget. Along the way, they also measure and manage risk, ensure the quality of deliverables, and manage the personnel and other resources associated with a project.
If this doesn’t describe the role of paralegals working on a case, then it’s not clear what does. From the time their phone rings and they receive a new case assignment, paralegals are helping to manage and organize as the case moves through the stages of the litigation spectrum. Drafting, filing, organizing, researching, managing documents or discovery, cite checking – each of these are projects that require specialized skills, have dependencies, and must be performed efficiently. Without a doubt each of these tasks have time constraints and cost limitations. So, lest there remain any doubt—paralegals are project managers.

What does Done look like?

But confusion remains regarding exactly how project management principles integrate with legal work. Perhaps the most important question a project manager can ask when he or she leads a project is “What does done look like?” That question, as simple as it seems, together with the answer, should resonate throughout the project. Otherwise, the scope of the project lacks definition, and when a project lacks proper scope definition the outcome will likely not be successful. When you take on a new case or assignment, it’s important to gather all the information, requirements, and parameters. Remember, successful projects have a vision, a purpose, and a goal, and they have time and cost constraints.
But scope management is just one aspect of project management. There are several components to project management that should be understood, starting with an understanding of the project lifecycle.

The Project Management Lifecycle

Projects have a life; they have a beginning and an end. The project lifecycle begins with the five pillars of traditional project management, called Process GroupsProcess simply refers to the discreet steps, actions, or operations one takes to achieve project objectives, the tools used, and an understanding of what each part of a project will look like as well as the final result. Process is identifying the inputs, tools and techniques, and the outputs required to produce results.

The Five Project Management Process Groups

To begin a project, it makes sense to have an orderly framework. The project management process groups provide that framework:
At each stage of a project, the project team should consider the following:
  • Initiating: Should we take on this project? What are the alternatives? Should we make it or buy it? Do we have necessary agreements in place?
  • Planning: What does done look like? What is and what is not included? What resources do we need? Who will lead the project? How much is it going to cost? How long will it take? What risks are involved? How will quality be maintained?
  • Executing: Project work begins and deliverables are prepared.
  • Monitoring & Controlling: Are we on time? On budget? Are we maintaining quality? How are we monitoring changes?
  • Closing: Document what was done, record metrics and perform post-project review.

The Project Management Knowledge Areas

The lifecycle does not end here. Within each process group are specific areas of responsibility that a project manager focuses on throughout a project. Known as the Knowledge Areas, these are the core elements in each of the five process groups that a project manager must manage:
  • Integration management
  • Scope management
  • Time management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Human resource management
  • Communication management
  • Risk management
  • Procurement management
  • Stakeholder management
The Knowledge Areas help to structure, categorize, and navigate the order of project work. They must be consistently integrated, managed, and monitored across the five process groups during a project.
Together, the five process groups and ten knowledge areas provide a consistent framework for project work. This framework has been time-tested and it works.

The Ins and Outs of PM

Within the framework, a project manager is responsible for the Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs in each knowledge area. The project manager first gathers information and identifies the requirements of the project (Inputs). Second, decisions are made about the equipment, methodologies, and resources necessary to achieve project success (Tools & Techniques). And third, the completed tasks and activities become deliverables and, ultimately, the final product, service or result (Outputs).
To illustrate the point, an example is helpful.
Tasked with collecting electronically stored information (ESI) from a client for discovery, what Inputs are needed before beginning the project? What information is necessary to enable the collection project to move forward? In the very least you need the location, the names of custodians, and the sources from which you will collect the ESI.
Next consider the Tools & Techniques. Is there a particular collection methodology suitable to the case? What tools are required? Are there written protocols or best practices for performing a collection? Here you need to know if you’re going to forensically collect the ESI or use other less formal procedures. Ideally, you’re going to use a trained technician who employs software or hardware that write-protects the ESI to prevent it from being altered.
And finally, what is the Output? Obviously, one output is the collected ESI. But how is it maintained? What form is it in post-collection? Are there any other requirements or documentation that is required at the conclusion of an ESI collection? The expectation when collecting ESI is that it will be in native form and all the metadata will be intact. Additionally, you are going to want a collection log and, because the ESI is potentially evidence, you will need to prepare a chain of custody form showing who handled the ESI.
This is but one example of the how the traditional project management methodology works. The project management framework above and the process of moving from inputs to tools to outputs are a proven methodology. That’s why the more than 745,000 project managers across the globe in nearly every industry, including the legal business, use this methodology to achieve effective results. That’s why paralegals should adopt these processes as well.


I began my career as a paralegal and made the move into legal technology, litigation support and e-discovery. Through hard work I built a reputation for getting things done, for educating and training attorneys and paralegals, and for managing people and successful projects. I have managed some of the largest class action securities litigations ever filed. At some point, it occurred to me that there is a better way and so I began to look at the principles of project management and their applicability to case work in the legal industry. Doing so has served me well over the past two decades. My point here is simple: paralegals and legal assistants, like anyone working in any industry, are project managers too. They perform important project-oriented work that can only improve with the use of project management principles.

About the Author
Michael Quartararo is the Director of Litigation Support Services at New York-based Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP and the author of Project Management in Electronic Discovery (June 2016), which may be ordered from: He is a certified project management professional (PMP) and a certified e-discovery specialist (CEDS). Mike also teaches, serves as a subject matter expert, and sits on the advisory board of the paralegal program at Bryan University in Tempe, Arizona. He frequently writes and speaks on topics relating to e-discovery, project management, and litigation/practice support.
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