Being a paralegal can be an exciting, profitable and stable job. As a paralegal, you will assist lawyers with all aspects of the legal process, including researching a case, checking conflicts of interest, filing court documents with the proper court, assisting with depositions and many other legal-related tasks. You do not need a legal degree to be a paralegal, nor do you need specific legal training, though any legal experience helps. With the right set of transferable skills, you can land a paralegal job with no experience.
- Skill level:
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Begin with your previous job history. Write down all your employers for the last several jobs. Be sure to include the business's name, your title and the dates you were employed.
Write down your duties for each position you held under the corresponding employer. Without experience as a paralegal, you will want to highlight any transferable skills you have that apply to being a paralegal. Administrative experience, data entry, attention to detail, organizational skills, maintaining calendars, transcription experience and research experience are all important transferable skills to mention.
List your educational experience. Even if you have an undergraduate degree in an area you feel has nothing to do with law, such as art history, list your degree anyway. If you have any additional educational experience, such as a master's or certifications, list these as well.
List your technology proficiency skills, which is a critical skill for a paralegal. Be sure to list specific software you have used, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. If you have experience with technological devices, such as a PDA or smartphone, you will want to list this as well.
List any other skills you may have. This can include your ability to speak a foreign language, which can come in handy if an attorney needs a translation of a disposition or assistance with speaking to a foreign client. You will also want to list your typing speed, since paralegals often are tasked with transcribing audio recordings and taking notes in real time.
List any awards and honours you have received that may be relevant to the job. You will not want to list awards that may be irrelevant, such as a cooking award. But you would list an honour such as Employee of the Month. This will speak to your character and your work ethic.
Tips and warnings
- Use your cover letter to state up front that you may lack specific experience in the paralegal field but that you have a passion to learn. Also highlight the work experience you do have and how it makes you a qualified candidate.
- If you have no experience because you just graduated from college, then you will want to list your education information before your work experience information.
- Do not falsify any information on your resume. You may highlight job duties that you think will make you a better-looking candidate for a paralegal position, but they must be job duties that you have actually performed in the past.
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