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Blog: Five Things to Learn During (and After) Paralegal School

Writing is refreshing.

As often happens, the article that I just finished writing not only introduced me to some new concepts but also reinforced what I’ve already learned. Funny how that happens, even when writing in a familiar niche. That’s what I like most about writing – it provides continuing “life education credits” that everyone can use once in a while, no matter what their profession is.

The article I’m referring to, entitled “Choosing the Right Path: Get the Most out of Your Paralegal Education,” was just published in the January/March 2012 issue of Paralegal Today magazine. Through my research and interviews with industry experts, I found out about some current trends in paralegal education. Here’s what I learned, or was reminded that I already knew, but hadn’t thought of in a while:

  • Think big-picture. Get a well-rounded education, not one that focuses entirely on a particular area of law. Look specifically for courses that will develop your critical-thinking, computer competency, communication, and organizational skills.
  • You’re a work in progress. Don’t expect to finish school and know everything you need to about the paralegal profession. Continuing education is essential in keeping up with industry trends, and should be a priority for all paralegals.
  • Social media is for you. It isn’t just used by college students and moms who want to post pictures of their kids. For example, LinkedIn is a great resource for many industries, including paralegals. There are many LinkedIn groups geared toward paralegals, including one called “Paralegal Network” that was started in 2008 by a paralegal I interviewed for my article, Peter Buckley. If you’re looking to network with other paralegals or ask a question about the industry, LinkedIn is a great place to go.
  • Technology is moving at the speed of light. We all know how hard internships can sometimes be to find, and in response to this, schools are starting to offer “virtual internships” through vendors. Because virtual internships are not limited by location, interning virtually can be a great opportunity for both attorneys and paralegals.
  • Be flexible. Paralegals who are willing to learn and have good basic skills will be positioned well for changes in the legal landscape. As Scott Hauert, president of the American Association for Paralegal Education told me when I interviewed him for my article, “Just know that the legal job you have today may not be the legal job you have in 10 years.” Learn accordingly.
  • Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will. ~Vernon Howard

Jan Hill is a paralegal and freelance writer. She writes website content, news and features, magazine articles, blog posts, video manuscripts, career reports, ghostwriting projects, and Ebooks.

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