Posts Tagged ‘skills’

Top Qualities of a Great Paralegal

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

A recent post on the NYCPA LinkedIn discussion board linked to an article entitled “Top 10 Qualities of a Great Paralegal.” The article lists and explains these ten items:

1. Analytical Skills
2. Communication Skills
3. Detail Oriented
4. Ethical Judgment
5. Great Writer
6. Interest in the Law
7. Interpersonal Qualities
8. Organizational Qualities
9. Research Skills
10. Tech Savvy

I agree that all of these are attributes that every good paralegal has, but I’d likely not classify all of them as “qualities,” but as “skills” as some of them are listed. And it is likely that my “top ten” list would be different. Certainly I would add to the list. In terms of skills I would at least add the basic skills of time, workload, calendar, client, and attorney relationship management to the list – the basic set of skills that form the basis for The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional. For example, even the best writer and the best researcher are of little value to a law office if she cannot get the work done on time. In terms of attributes I consider qualities, those such as integrity, reliability, and the other components of professionalism come higher up the list than some of those in this list. Again, a great writer and researcher is a problem rather than an asset to a firm if he is unreliable or lacks integrity. In the end a law firm can teach improved writing and researching skills if necessary to a reliable paralegal with integrity but can do little to improve the reliability of a person with little integrity.

What is a Paralegal? More than just a skill set.

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

One of the categories here is “What is a Paralegal?” It’s a question that has received many answers on this blog. Lisa DiMonte provides a link on the KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals Linkedin Group discussion board to a good statement by Neal Huffman on the Aurora Community College Faculty and Staff Blog pointing out that the paralegal is more than just a person with a particular set of skills”

Then in terms of a career, three things about being a paralegal which transcend skill are the professional attributes, specialization possibilities, and life-long learning a paralegal enjoys in their vocation. These elements heighten the feeling of belonging in a meaningful, satisfying career path, as well as, exemplify a rewarding, challenging job that evolves accordingly.

Neal deals with each of these three areas more fully in the post, so check it out.

Ad: Professionalism is a must

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Our local paper (yes print media still exists) carries this ad:

Law firm seeks paralegal that can handle additional secretary and receptionist duties. Ideal candidate will have ability to organziae, prioritize and complete tasks under time constraints. Must be multi-tasked oriented and able to work in a fact paced envrionment. Excellent writing, verbal and communication skills. Professionalism is a must.

Of course, this ad interests me because it confirms my contentions that (1) those paralegal who demonstrate professionalism with control the market, and (2) professionalism is more than a set of skills. Thus, the empowered paralegal is one who is effective, efficient and professional.

This leads to the real challenge – determining just what professionalism is. In some ways it is like art and pornography – you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it. In this blog and in my book I attempt to shed some light on its primary ingredients.  It is, quite clearly, more than simply a manner of dress. I frequently point out to students that the very phrase “I dressed like a professional” implies that there is something more to professionalism than a good suit, clean hands, and a haircut. If one can “dress like a professional” and still not be professional, then dress alone does not make a professional.

As discussed in The Empowered Paralegal and throughout this blog, the ingredients of professionalism include reliability, trustworthiness, work ethic, honesty, attitude, self-reflection, standards, personal integrity, the ability to think ahead, and inter-personal skills especially in dealing with clients and attorneys.

Initial results of the Professionalism Anthology are encouraging and I hope that publication will ultimately lead to a better understanding of professionalism in the paralegal profession. In the meantime I will contact the firm that place this ad to see what it means by “Professionalism is a must.”