To excel in your career as a paralegal it is often helpful to seek out advice from experienced paralegals and learn what things can lead to success or what mistakes to avoid. The following article from Practical Paralegalism is a guest post by senior paralegal Tausha Major and provides some excellent advice for paralegals who are just starting their career.
Tip #1: Find a Mentor.
Mentors are a great tool and often overlooked. A mentor can answer questions, give great feedback and help you develop. Ask your school if they have a mentorship program or contact your local paralegal association for help in finding a good one.
Tip #2: Admit Your Weaknesses.
Everyone has an area that needs improvement. Be honest with yourself. What do you need to learn or do better? Once you acknowledge that need, make a commitment to fix and master it.
Tip #3: Ask Questions.
I am afraid of people who never have questions. A new paralegal should have more questions than answers. They serve as a pathway to growth. If you are in an environment where questions are not welcomed, consider making a change.
Tip #4: Stay Current.
Always keep track of new industry trends, laws and regulations. To be successful, you must know what’s going on around you.
Tip #5: Continuing Education RULES!
Always seek professional development. Many opportunities (within and outside of the profession) exist for those who are vigilant in continuing education and operating outside the boundaries of their chosen profession. Knowledge is power!
Tip #6: Seek Win-Win.
A win-win situation is defined as one that creates a positive outcome for both sides. Salary and health benefits should not be the only criteria for accepting a position. For instance, if you value professional development, does the company encourage and pay for it? Do opportunities to advance exist? Think about it.
Tip #7: Be Proactive!
A successful paralegal is proactive. He or she is able to anticipate needs and can provide exactly what is required at the right time. This takes time, effort and awareness, but the attorney will love you for it!
Tip #8: Be Indispensable.
This goes hand in hand with being proactive. How important are you to the success and profitability of the office?
Tip #9: Politics “Schmolitics”.
You cannot escape office politics. Know the culture of the office (i.e., how things are done) early on to avoid unnecessary pitfalls. Learn how to navigate through conflict. Do not get involved in office gossip!
Tip #10: Network, Network, Network!
Many times, it’s not what you know but who you know and who knows you. Join associations, attend meetings and circulate! Don’t have a company business card? Make your own and highlight your abilities. You just never know…
BONUS: Never Say Never!
Never accept the limitations placed upon you, your abilities, your gifts and your desire to succeed. Who do YOU think you are?
Tausha Major, MBA, is a senior paralegal and owner of The Administrative Link, a New Jersey firm which provides paralegal and administrative services. Her LinkedIn profile may be viewed at http://www.linkedin.com/in/taushamajor
Reprinted with permission of Lynne J. DeVenny, Author/Blogger at Practical Paralegalism, http://www.practicalparalegalism.com.
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Page updated on August 6, 2010.