While top notch research and writing skills are essential for a good paralegal, Kimberly A. Grabbe described a number of other qualities that can make or break a paralegal’s career. Ms. Grabbe described such soft skills in the January/February 2016 issue of the magazine Facts and Findings published by NALA (National Association of Legal Assistants).
According to Ms. Grabbe, employers are looking for a range of less tangible skills. In particular, getting along well with others and being easy to work with are highly attractive to employers. So are having leadership skills and a good sense of humor. In fact, she claims that being a better team player or being able to wear many hats may make the difference in being chosen for a paralegal position.
Good customer skills are imperative, and Ms. Grabbe stated that “you are expected to act to a higher standard…than the average businessman or woman.” She wrote that up 80% of your day is spent communicating with clients, potential clients, experts, vendors, or your attorney.
Grabbe stressed the importance of being well organized and pointed out how time-intensive that can be. However, this skill is particularly vital if your job is document intensive. For instance, you will need to classify, categorize, catalog, and organize everything that your attorney needs.
According to Grabbe, a successful paralegal sets aside a large amount of time to organize and create detailed duty lists. Doing so will make his or her workflow go more smoothly. Successful paralegals must also be able to quickly adapt to “change priorities at the drop of a hat.”
Being aware of the importance of these skills before you apply for a paralegal position can help you to better position yourself to land one of these key jobs.