Paralegal Skills

Some personalities and particular skill sets are better suited to the paralegal profession than others.

Today’s paralegal needs to be computer savvy and be able to stay on top of new programs and technologies as they come out.

An effective paralegal needs to be outgoing without being overly chatty.

Being highly organized and attentive to small details is an absolute must for paralegals A good legal assistant doesn’t overreact under pressure. A good paralegal will quickly be able to find flaws in documents, assist with billing and other functions, to keep the law office on track and profitable. They are expected to catch errors made by others and to make sure everyone who needs to know, is aware of important dates. Excellent spelling, grammar, and the ability to check these is a must. Paralegals are expected to be good writers and editors.

Common Mistakes Paralegals Help Lawyers With

With such an emphasis put on paralegals to be detail oriented and efficient, one might think that lawyers are meticulous about these. The reality is that both lawyers and paralegals make mistakes. Some lawyers make more mistakes than other lawyers the same way some paralegals make more mistakes than other paralegals. A difference though between the mistakes of paralegals and those of lawyers is typically, paralegals need to clean up their own mistakes even if means staying late and working long hours. When lawyers make mistakes, paralegals are often the ones charged with cleaning them up which often means staying late and working long hours.

Failing to Appear

 
Paralegals tend to be responsible for tracking meetings and deadlines but ultimately, a lawyer is responsible for everything that happens on their case. A paralegal cannot make a court appearance for a lawyer but a lawyer might still try to blame a paralegal for their own failure to appear. Lawyers can also be the cause of paralegals missing deadlines if they fail to communicate or provide necessary information in a reasonable amount of time. Many paralegals have felt like they spent entire days in a row trying to get one signature from one lawyer, all the while trying to keep up with the rest of their job.

Legal Hyperbole

Good legal writing is clear and concise. Lawyers and paralegals often work as a team on legal briefs, passing them back and forth to one another to write and edit each other’s contribution. When a lawyer is not a very good writer, especially when they try too hard, their writing will probably not hold up very well in front of a judge. Even though a lawyer is a paralegal’s boss, the paralegal is often the one that needs to put a lawyer’s bad writing someplace where it won’t ruin their case.

Poor Hiring Choices

Making good hiring choices takes skills that not every lawyer has. A problem when a lawyer hires poor staff is that the staff that are doing good at their jobs, get negatively impacted by poor choices in hires. Inept lawyers, administrative assistants and other paralegals, can prevent a good paralegal from being able to do their job with the speed and efficiency they normally can.

Failing to Keep Up With Accounting

 
Billing for law firms is complicated and unfortunately, paralegals often shoulder the burden of billing mistakes that they were not responsible for. While lawyers are usually concerned about money and their firm making a profit, they often do not realize how very important it is to have someone managing their accounting on an ongoing basis- and it most likely should be a hired professional rather than for lawyers to try save money by doing their accounting themselves.
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