There is no question that the job market for paralegals is very competitive and there are no signs to indicate that this competition will slow down. Some paralegals will view this competition as a threat and shrink back into mediocrity, but others will view it as a challenge and take the necessary steps to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate their value to their employers. If you have already arrived at this enlightened state of paralegalism kudos to you, but if you have not let’s get started with scrapping your mediocre paralegal existence and replace it with a higher level of paralegalism. This will be the first in the series “How to Become an Indispensable Paralegal”. This series will include information to assist you in becoming an indispensable paralegal. So grab your Starbucks® or whatever you drink and notepad because I guarantee that if you implement these steps you’ll become an indispensable paralegal. And if you want to be even more exceptional consider registering for Paralegal Rainmakers Summit on July 26, 2013, on-line at 9:00 to 2:00pm PST. Ready, set, let’s get started ya’ll.
First you have to scrap your cookie cutter view of a paralegal’s role and replace it with a new one. This cookie cutter view hinders a paralegal from owning their paralegal role and demonstrating their true value to employers and the legal community. It is critical to a paralegal’s success to own the paralegal role. Without ownership a paralegal will always be mediocre, never transcending from a job focused mindset to a career focused mindset. This type of a paralegal’s actions will always mimic that of the countless other paralegals that are just doing what is necessary to keep a job, and never perform at a level that is needed to sustain a successful paralegal career. An employer can find hundreds of paralegals to draft documents and conduct research, but finding a paralegal that performs these functions while understanding that performing these functions efficiently has a direct impact on their career is like finding a rare jewel. Taking ownership allows a paralegal to look beyond the bounds of one particular employer and see the impact that their actions have on their career and the legal community overall. This view ultimately results in a better work product and job satisfaction.
Following are some questions to ask yourself to determine where you are right now on your path to becoming an indispensable paralegal:
- Do you volunteer for additional assignments on your job?
- Do other co-workers come to you for assistance?
- Have you received any new job assignments within the last year?
- Do you subscribe to any legal publications?
- Do you belong to any paralegal associations?
- Do you network with any paralegals outside of your job?
- Do you write for any legal publications?
- Do you do any pro bono work?
- Do you have any attorneys in your professional network?
- Do you have any mentors?
If you answered yes to questions 1-4 you are an asset to your employer, if you answered yes to questions 1-7 you are an asset to your employer and a contributor to the paralegal profession, and if you answered yes to questions 1-10 you are an asset to your employer, a contributor to the paralegal profession, and a contributor to the legal community.