THE PERSONALITY OF A SUCCESSFUL PARALEGAL
Paralegals are a hardworking and dedicated bunch—they are organized, independent, fairly introverted, and creative in a way that most people never expect. They research, synthesize, document, and interpret facts to form coherent stories for their clients to use in court. It’s a rewarding profession with high stakes; people with the following qualities embrace this profession the most.
LOVE THE DETAILS
You need to do the legwork for lawyers and make sure that all of the facts sit before them—like a dashboard that contains the case’s story, context, major “plot points,” specific details that Sherlock Holmes himself would catch, and thematic threads to tie them all together. No stone should be left unturned—you never know what detail could alter the entire context of the case!
It should also be said that paralegals are champions of organizing their schedules. This goes beyond fact collection and basic organization; paralegals need to meet clients on a regular basis and attend court sessions with their supervisors to win cases for their firms. These kinds of events are not optional, of course!
INTROVERTED OR EXTROVERTED
It’s not that simple, as you’ll need to do things that are suited to both archetypes. But that’s true of every job, really—it’s all about finding what broadly suits your interests best. Yes, you will need to interact with clients and outside parties on a fairly regular basis—but that isn’t the bulk of what a paralegal does. Paralegals spend most of their time conducting research and documenting case files for senior lawyers. Naturally, this involves a lot of independent time at a desk or in the archives.
The supervising lawyer might only have time to give basic direction on a case, so independence is a huge selling trait for paralegals. Self-direction is a huge boon to busy lawyers, and it shows when they see a case laid out before them, ready to be interpreted. It takes a lot of solitude and an introverted work style to put that together.
LOGIC AND CREATIVITY
The stereotype goes that cold, hard logic trumps everything in the law, but that is not always true. In fact, it’s rarely ever about a forensic scientist finding that “smoking gun” piece of evidence that wins the case. The best paralegals and lawyers interpret the facts creatively rather than just reciting the relevant set of laws. It is crucially important for paralegals to know if or certain facts can mean different things in particular contexts.
It is true that effective paralegals need to know the technical mechanics of the law—that’s the case with any profession—but the best paralegals also interpret the facts to their clients’ advantages. For example, a small claims case revolving around failed payments could be attributed to a company’s inherently difficult payment structure, or broken communication practices. Winning cases goes beyond regurgitating facts and veers into the realm of interpretation.
LET'S GET STARTED
Paralegals truly are dedicated professionals, and it takes a certain kind of tenacity to stand among the best of them. If you share any of these traits, then take a look at the Paralegal Program outline. Classes start sooner than you think!