Soft Skills Are Just As Important As Hard Skills In The Paralegal Profession

Each company looks for a mix of skills and experience when interviewing potential hires. Being an expert in a particular subject is not enough. Companies look for the perfect mix of core competencies and soft skills. With so much emphasis on research, technical, and writing skills, paralegal students may forget that key soft skills are equally important attributes an attorney looks for when searching for the perfect paralegal.
Soft skills are personal qualities, habits, attitudes, and social graces that add to a person's practical skill set, making him or her a good employee and compatible to work with. Paralegals who have both hard and soft skills have a competitive edge in today's legal market. Having the right soft skills can also help paralegals become successful in their profession. There are a few key soft skills that are specific to the paralegal profession.
Organization is oftentimes considered a personal attribute, which it is. It is also a skill, and a rare skill at that. Lawyers rely on paralegals to take charge of their cases by bringing order and implementing systems that result in easy access and availability. Paralegals are tasked with vast amounts of documents and data. Therefore, their ability to sort, index, categorize, and organize physical documents, exhibits, and evidence is paramount.
Paralegals are rarely given assignments one at a time. In the legal world, paralegals must attend to multiple projects, while simultaneously balancing competing priorities. Therefore, multitasking is the norm for the paralegal. For example, a paralegal might train a co-worker, research a legal issue, and interview a witness all within the same hour. The most successful paralegals are those who are flexible thinkers, astute at prioritizing assignments, and masterful at balancing the demands of multiple attorneys and clients.
Attorneys typically focus on the big picture, which means the small, yet equally important, details fall to the paralegal. Attention to detail is essential because mostly everything associated with law requires detailed work. Cite checking, document review, title searches, and exhibit management all require meticulous attention to detail. Coordinating the logistical intricacies of trial preparation requires a careful concentration to complete the multitude of details including filing deadlines, tracking court dates, and preparing exhibits.
Being a team player is another valuable paralegal soft skill. Law offices are made up of nothing but teams, so being a team player are a must for individuals working the paralegal profession. Paralegals are subject to work under the supervision of a lawyer and sometimes several lawyers at a time. They also collaborate with fellow paralegals, secretaries, clients, opposing counsel, and other outside parties, so teamwork is an integral part of the paralegal experience.
Being nice is an invaluable soft skill and excellent character trait for paralegals. When recruiting, some attorneys look for "nice" traits like those who smile and have a genuine desire to help people. Employers recognize these traits are beneficial to the firm, staff, and internal and external clients.
Although core competency skills are certainly an important part of the paralegal profession, soft skills are complementary and can augment professional performance. A combination of competencies, both hard and soft skills, can contribute to being a successful paralegal. Those who wish to ready themselves for a job in this field can do so by enrolling in paralegal programs online where they can take online courses.


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