The paralegal profession is evolving at breakneck speed. Only influencers, SEO writers, and a short list of other hyper-modern occupations outpace paralegals in the way the scope of their required skills has grown. To anyone who’s been paying attention, this is no surprise. After all, the term “paralegal” didn’t even exist 50 years ago. Since the profession’s inception, paralegals have rapidly evolved from secretarial workers to the technicians, organizers, and information experts required to keep any top firm running smoothly. Paralegal job training has thus become fundamental.
In light of the profession’s rapid transformation, it may seem natural to refresh your staff with young graduates already up-to-speed on latest practices and expectations, and yet this is not necessarily the right approach. The skills needed of a successful paralegal will continue to evolve, meaning you are better-served over the long term by nurturing the foundational skills needed for continued growth amongst your existing staff. By providing paralegal training to trusted team members, not only do you save on recruitment and onboarding costs, you also boost employee retention by offering sought-after professional development opportunities.
Five Foundational Characteristics of Today’s Top Paralegals
The internet is overflowing with articles touting paralegal job training advice. Most focus on such traits as organization, flexibility, precision, and communication skills, amongst other learned abilities. What they overlook is that these are all the product of deeper drivers which not only support these abilities, but also represent the pretext necessary for their acquisition. In order for organization, flexibility, precision, and so forth to become second nature, a person must have a character that thrives on the outcomes these skills provide. This means taking your training for paralegals to a deeper level.
Today’s best paralegals are not necessarily the young and tech-savvy (however valuable those assets may be); rather, they are curious, strong-willed, logically-minded, patient, and they display good judgement. These five characteristics both provide the foundation for and motivation behind all the others. Here’s why:
Curiosity is the root of ingenuity. It is that characteristic which leads a person to uncover inventive solutions while on their morning run and it is that which nurtures flexibility because you cannot be an agile thinker without also being open-minded.
Curiosity is nothing if not backed up by a strong will. After all, a good paralegal not only crafts inventive solutions, but implements them even when the going is tough, or unforeseen complications arise. A strong-will is also needed to receive and assimilate constructive feedback. It takes deep strength of character and an iron desire to succeed to meet corrective direction with motivation.
Logic is another pillar that supports a curious and strong-willed character and gives rise to other essential traits. The ability to order and evaluate key facts is essential to clear communication, and organization is only valuable when underpinned by some sort of logic. Lastly, a paralegal capable of cutting through the fat and grasping the heart of a matter has the potential to save your firm tremendous time and resources.
A paralegal’s job is not easy, and it is only made harder if a person lacks the ability to stay calm in the face of adversity. To master this, patience is needed. In the legal world, solutions rarely come readily and, without patient resilience, sometimes they do not come at all.
5. Of Good Judgement
A final foundational characteristic of a good paralegal is the ability to meet complex situations with sound decision-making. Not everything needs to go through a lawyer and what’s more, not everything should. This said, some details demand attorney attention, and it is good judgement that allows a paralegal to determine when this may (and may not) be the case.
You’re not alone if you read this list and thought, “no amount of paralegal training can accomplish all that.” And if we were talking about outmoded, workshop style trainings, you’d be right. We’re talking about law firm overhaul, though. The 66-Day Law Firm Turnaround program does not just spray platitudes about how to nurture patience or good judgement, it draws on data-driven solutions to reform your firm and ensure you instill and nourish these qualities on all levels of your operation.
Want to learn more? Schedule a qualifier call with me, Molly McGrath, to determine if your firm makes the cut.