Five Must-Have Traits to Shine As a Paralegal

Paralegal careers are hot, with paralegal jobs projected to grow 22 percent through 2016. Despite this tremendous job growth, the best paralegal jobs are still highly competitive. Before embarking on a paralegal career, it is important to understand what it takes to excel as a legal assistant. To that end, here are five must-have traits that successful paralegals share.

1. Good analytical skills

Paralegalsoften spend a great deal of time conducting research and summarizing reams of information and facts down for lawyers. The best paralegals have good analytical skills and can do this work efficiently and effectively. They are adept at asking the right questions, finding the right information, and drawing succinct conclusions from their research. They are able to get to, and communicate, the "So what?" of their research.

2. Able to work independently

While a paralegal's work is supervised by lawyers, they still spend a significant amount of time working independently. The best paralegals are able to take some direction and then complete a task themselves. Related to this, paralegals need to be highly organized and must be able to plan ahead and prioritize their work in order to successfully meet deadlines, often on multiple cases simultaneously.

3. Resourceful

Good paralegals do not give up. They are creative and resourceful in tracking down hard to find information or expert witnesses. They often relish the challenge of completing tough assignments.

4. Strong interpersonal skills

A major component of any paralegal job is working with people -- everyone from lawyers, to court personnel, to clients and witnesses. The best paralegals have excellent written and communication skills and are adept at interacting with others.

5. Thick skinned

Being a paralegal is challenging and highly rewarding. It can also be extremely tough. At various points in your career you may be working against tight deadlines for demanding lawyers. It is inevitable that tempers will flare or you will find yourself on the receiving end of tough criticism. How you react can make a big difference in whether you love or loathe the paralegal field. Successful paralegals are able to "roll with the punches" and do not take things personally.

Do you possess these traits? Great!

And if not, don't worry. It is never too late to further develop these traits in yourself. Start today and you'll be sure to stand out and get noticed!

Tricia Carroll can help you prepare for a terrific paralegal career. Visit All-Paralegal to learn more.

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