Some paralegals may hold the mistaken belief that if they have all of the right experience, credentials, and work ethic that being successful is just a matter of time. Although, these are definitely needed to be successful, a paralegal’s true value may never be known unless it is demonstrated in some way. Demonstrating value as a paralegal can be accomplished in some very specific ways. One of the best ways to demonstrate value as a paralegal is to show your employer that you are responsible. This may seem to be a given because everyone likes to think that they are responsible, but the level of responsibility needed to demonstrate value as a paralegal goes beyond showing up for work and completing tasks on time.
In order, to demonstrate value a paralegal must be responsible in the sense that they take responsibility for the outcome of every case or matter that they are assigned to. This is where the rubber meets the road in paralegalism. Since paralegals typically only work under the supervision of an attorney, they in essence function as intermediaries between the attorney and clients. For some paralegals this will cause them to view their job duties from the perspective of an intermediary. An intermediary is just a go between with no real stake in the outcome of a matter. The attorney has a stake in the outcome of every case or matter that they work on because their standing as a licensed professional and the reputation of their firm or organization is at stake. The customer has a stake in the outcome because it is their livelihood, finances, or freedom that is being held in the balance. A paralegal has no real stake in the outcome of a case except for the impact that it will have on that particular job, which for some is not enough motivation to incorporate a higher level of responsibility into their jobs.
To demonstrate value a paralegal must view responsibility as taking ownership for the outcome of every case or matter that is worked on. This requires more than doing job functions from the standpoint of what is assigned, but requires doing what needs to be done to bring a case or matter to a successful conclusion. For example, let’s say a paralegal is assigned to prepare motions, but someone else is responsible for obtaining supporting documents, and another person is responsible for filing the motion with the court. Once the paralegal prepares the motion they are technically done, but if a paralegal takes ownership they will assist a co-worker who may be having some issues obtaining the supporting documents so that the motion can be filed on time. A team focused mindset and understanding that all pieces of a puzzle are needed for the puzzle to be complete is necessary to demonstrate responsibility as a paralegal. If one person has one piece and someone else has another piece the puzzle will never be finished if all pieces are never brought together.