We are super excited to partner with an industry leader in placing legal professionals in the legal industry. The Morton Group a Scottsdale, Arizona based company owned and operated by Sue Morton is someone we are proud to partner with as her company has been placing legal professionals in the industry for over 32 years. Her experience, industry knowledge, ethics, and professionalism makes us fortunate to have an opportunity to partner in a way that will help our students.
Both Paralegal Institute and The Morton Group are passionate about helping those who want a successful career in the legal field as our goal is to further develop a Paralegal or Nurse Paralegal Pathway that includes opportunities for students/learners with no experience to take advantage of entry level (i.e. receptionist, Paralegal Assistant, Legal Project assistant, etc.) opportunities in law firms which is a great way to starting a legal career.
Over the next few months we will be sharing opportunities to learn more about what it takes to start a career in the legal field. Students attending the Paralegal Institute will have an opportunity to hear about this growing industry directly from Sue Morton. She will be conducting webinars on many topics, the first one in May 2021 will address the importance of “Treating your job search like a project”.
Again, we are honored to work with The Morton Group on our quest to help our students gain important employability skills.
We were excited to hear ParalegalEDU.org named us one of the top entry-level, pre-degree paralegal certificate programs in Arizona. We are very proud of the fact that our program will prepare you to be a paralegal assistant, legal assistant or legal project assistant. Their contributors at ParalegalEDU.org and staff have worked hard and their efforts represent a joint effort of up-and-coming paraprofessionals in the field of law, experienced paralegals, and an independent team of web developers that brought the two together to achieve their mission.
When you compare our program one of our main differentiators is that we really try to focus on three (3) key areas: Legal, Paralegal Technology and Administrative Support. As is the case with our paralegal studies certificate the core of the program is around legal research/analysis/writing and litigation and trial practice. Students receive a formal introduction to law by examining sources of American law, the court system and alternative dispute resolution, substantive law in its various forms, as well as administrative law and government regulation.
Paralegal Technology is a topic that is gaining speed even offered with some Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs in high school. Due to the growth of this field its important learners are exposed to software (i.e. Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, etc.) and other office applications (i.e. document systems, Outlook, CRM’s, etc.) that are required to successfully support office staff.
Business communication skills are another key requirement and a growing skill set that needs to be established early in one’s legal career. We are excited to begin offering a specific online business communication skills course with this program effective May 1st, 2021. We see the demand for this a certification program tied to communication skills for other career pathways as well.
Once again, we are humbled by this acknowledgement as our goal is to continue to get better with our paralegal certificate program offerings, so our learners have the best online learning experience.
Paralegals play an integral role in the smooth operation of a law office. For many, including Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorneys at Tyler Allen Law Firm, the delivery of legal services to clients depends upon the work of a strong and effective legal team made up of attorneys and paralegals working together.
At Tyler Allen Law Firm, we believe building that team begins by hiring the best paralegals. The problem faced by employers is choosing the best person for the job. When there are many applicants you want to find the one person who will turn out to be a truly great paralegal.
Here are some of the things our attorneys look for, or want, in a paralegal:
Excellent communication skills
The ability to communicate with others is probably one of the most valuable skills a paralegal can possess. A person could be an effective researcher or have the ability to grasp complex legal principles, but the best paralegals know how to convey that information using excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Able to work independently
Legal and ethical guidelines require that paralegals work under the supervision and guidance of an attorney. The way this works in most busy law practices is for an attorney to assign a task to a paralegal who is expected to work independently and take whatever steps are necessary to complete the assignment with oversight from the attorney.
For example, a paralegal might be asked to research the legal significance of a document which is part of the basis of the lawsuit against the client.
The paralegal is expected to work independently to:
- Research the law
- Investigate the facts surrounding the document
- Identify any defenses that might be available to the client
- Prepare a memorandum of law for the attorney
Flexible and capable of adapting to different work styles
It is common for paralegals in a law office to work for different attorneys from time to time. A good paralegal can easily adapt to variations in the way each attorney works. Some attorneys work at a different pace than do other attorneys. Personalities, practice areas and work styles often differ from one attorney to another.
An attorney representing clients facing criminal charges might need research or motions completed quickly and on short notice due to court imposed deadlines.
An attorney engaged in estate planning in the same law office might be less demanding as far deadlines go. A paralegal must adapt to the style and requirements of the different attorneys within an office.
Precision and attention to detail
Accuracy and precision are important in a law office. Filing papers with a court a day late can have devastating results for a client. Missing a statute of limitations deadline for starting a lawsuit on behalf of a client injured in an accident could lead to the dismissal of the claim. This, in turn, could result in a malpractice claim against the attorney for whom the paralegal works.
- Double check their facts and pay careful attention to details.
- Check the filing deadline when asked to prepare papers for a case even though it was not part of the assignment.
- Proofread for spelling and grammatical errors and make sure headings are correct.
Honesty and integrity
A paralegal owes equal responsibility to the client. Clients put their faith and trust in attorneys and the paralegals who work with them. Paralegals are held to the same standards of confidentiality and integrity as the attorney.
Multitasking and working under stress
Rarely does a paralegal have the opportunity to work on a single task at any given time. A typical day for a busy paralegal usually involves performing multiple tasks, such as:
• Talking to clients, witnesses and attorneys on the telephone or in the office
• Conducting legal research in the office or in a law library
• Going to court to file papers
• Preparing motions, documents and pleadings
• Scheduling court appearances
• Helping the attorneys prepare for hearings
The number of things that must be done may feel overwhelming at times, but a great paralegal can manage and organize time. Time-management skills can be learned, but a person must be willing to do so.
Capable of working as part of a team
The ability to work independently is an important skill for a paralegal, but it is just as important to be able to function as part of a team. The attorney typically leads the legal team, but it may also include secretaries, investigators and others in addition to one or more paralegals. Achieving the most favorable legal result for the client requires all members of the team working together.
A pleasant and client-focused personality
Clients want to feel confident that their legal matter is being handled properly. A paralegal should be professional, compassionate and understanding of the needs of each client the office represents.
If you are considering a career as a Paralegal, The Paralegal Institute at Brighton College can help. Contact us at 800-354-1254. We offer a Paralegal Studies Diploma and Paralegal Associate Degree. Fill out the form today and get more information on this exciting career.
About Tyler Allen:
Tyler graduated from Arizona State University Law School and was admitted to the Arizona Bar in 2009. He represents clients in Employment Law, Estate Planning, Criminal Defense, and DUI & Traffic Defense matters at Tyler Allen Law Firm in Phoenix, AZ.
Admitted: Arizona, U.S. Dt. Ct. of Arizona
Law School: Arizona State University College of Law, J.D.
Undergraduate: University of Utah, B.S. Political Science, cum laude
The Perfect Personality for Paralegals
The role of a paralegal is fantastic for many people. If you possess these personality traits, it might be the perfect job for you.
Take a look at some of these traits:
There are a lot of details to take care of when you are a paralegal. For people with high organizational skills, this comes naturally.
The work done by paralegals is all about helping their clients. Empathy will go a long way in motivating you and reminding you why your job is so important.
Reliable and Patient
These traits are almost a mix of the ones listed above. Being trustworthy and calm allows you to help others through practical means.
Solving problems is rarely a rigid process. Out-of-the-box thinkers will have an easier time connecting dots that others may miss.
If you have a passion for using your practical skills to help others, it shows and it’s perfect for being a paralegal.
Good Practical Skills
Practical people know that in order for their desire to help others to mean anything, it needs to be put into action, even if the actions themselves are mundane.
Does this sound like you? Channel your personality into a rewarding career as a paralegal. Train through the online courses available at The Paralegal Institute today!
Deciding to become a paralegal opens up a wealth of choices, one of which is whether you want to be a professional career paralegal or you want to see if the legal world is suited to you before you sign on for the time and expense of law school. Either way, paralegal work is demanding, challenging and rewarding.
Just like lawyers, paralegals can choose a specific area of the law that interests them. You may be the kind of person who is passionate about the environment or someone who understands and empathizes with difficult family law and custody issues. You may choose to go into the booming field of intellectual property or decide that you’d like to become part of a large corporate law practice. Or you may decide that the world of high profile criminal law is what really interests you, in which case you probably want to go to work for a defense attorney.
What Does a Paralegal Do?
The paralegal is responsible for researching, preparing discovery, interviewing, and supporting the lawyer(s) on the case with efficiency and knowledge. In a high profile case, you will help the attorney with pretrial work including interviewing clients about their personal history, their career, education, family and any previous legal problems. You will also help with the investigation of the case facts and the people involved peripherally.Other responsibilities can include searching records, getting hold of proper documentation and drafting new documentation, and sometimes even strategizing with the lawyer about the approach to the case. The paralegal may also put their own abilities to assess people to good use and assist in jury selection. In any and all actions, the paralegal is expected to reflect the ethics of their firm.
Role in High-Profile Cases
Probably the most famous case involving a paralegal is, surprisingly, not criminal. The Erin Brockovitch case is famous partially because it was made into a popular film, but even more because Brockovich, while actually still only a file clerk in a law firm, became an activist who helped build a successful case against Pacific Gas and Electric for having contaminated local drinking water and causing serious illnesses to occur.
But it’s more likely that a high profile case will be a criminal case, especially one which – like the Jodi Arias or O.J. Simpson trials – fascinates the media and the public. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “three-ring circus” applied to some high profile cases. If that’s an accurate description of the high profile trial atmosphere, then the paralegal is definitely one of the ringmasters. What Skills do Paralegals Need?
Having an inquisitive mind is a great tool for success as a paralegal; the paralegal who becomes curious about why some small fact in one document is missing completely in another, or why there are contradictory explanations about the same incident from two different sources can keep on digging and may even turn up new evidence. With some courtroom experience, he or she should recognize and identify strategies being used by opposing counsel and perhaps even gauge the direction of the judge.
Paralegals need very good people skills, and this is especially true in high profile cases where it’s expected that there will be a lot of temperament and drama on display. The good paralegal will be able to deal skillfully with everyone – including clients – who is a part of the legal team; that means quickly recognizing certain personalities and knowing how to handle them. This can be very stressful to handle, so it pays to know what kind of person you are and how you function under pressure before deciding to work for a lawyer or firm that handles a lot of high profile cases.
According to Online Paralegal Programs, which provides an overview of the profession and its requirements, paralegals earn, on average, about $51,990 a year, with some jobs paying more (the top ten percent of paralegals make around $75,000 a year)and some less. The field is open, with the number of paralegals expected to increase up to 17% by 2022.
In order to get to those high profile cases, you will need a degree and experience. The Paralegal College at Brighton College offers two paralegal degrees – a Paralegal Diploma, which is a one-year course, and a Paralegal Associates Degree, which is a two-year course. They also offer continuing education classes, which is a great advantage in a field that deals consistently with changes and new laws.
No matter how talented they are and how little sleep they get, lawyers cannot run their own firms and still do justice to their clients’ needs without skilled help. A lot of that help comes directly from legal secretaries and paralegals, and although many people get the two jobs confused or believe they are nearly identical, there are important differences between them. Salary potential and education requirements are just two of the areas in which paralegals and legal secretaries are considerably different, and even when job requirements seem almost the same, the paralegal will become far more involved in the actual legal work of a case, while the legal secretary takes care of the more administrative responsibilities.
There are no mandatory educational requirements to become a legal secretary. Most have completed high school or earned a GED, and many go on to earn legal secretary certificates or associate degrees. A top legal secretary who wants to remain at the top will often take individual courses at colleges to learn more about the law and legal practices, but this is done to increase their skills and bolster potential advancement in the field. Some of these courses might teach how to produce legal documents, memos and complaints, maintain docket systems and schedule witnesses.
Most paralegals, on the other hand, have completed a four-year undergraduate college and hold a degree before enrolling in a paralegal school and attaining a second degree in this specific field. This classification is further divided by the fact that new paralegals may have earned their paralegal certifications or degrees by completing a one year course, two year course, or in some instances, a complete four year program.
For the most part, paralegals earn quite a bit more money than legal secretaries do, and this is undoubtedly due to the education levels required for the two different jobs. Most legal secretaries earn in the $40,000 range annually, and there aren’t many options for advancement in the workplace. Paralegals enter the work force with a significant body of legal knowledge already under their belts, and they are compensated for it. Most paralegals now make between $52,000 and $60,000 a year, and the salary increases impressively for paralegals who work at large law firms and are in management. While there aren’t a lot of advancements a paralegal can make in title, he or she may well be one of the people who will use this job as a way to decide whether or not they want to go on to law school.
Work on Cases
There is a great deal of preparation that needs to go on before a case ever reaches the courtroom, and both paralegals and legal secretaries play significant roles in this pre-trial phase of the case. Legal secretaries are expected to stay on top of managing the office while organizing the files in the case and the documents the lawyer needs for review. The legal secretary will also be responsible for creating and maintaining office and court schedules for both attorneys and paralegals.
Paralegals are expected to be more deeply involved in case preparation than a secretary. Paralegals are trained to do legal research and must be extremely accurate and detailed in this work; they are often also involved in interviewing witnesses in the case, which requires certain skills in handling people may already be experiencing some distress at being part of a case or lawsuit. Paralegals with proven track records may also help prepare statements and arguments that will be presented in court – each task requiring knowledge and concentration. So while both are members of the support team for the attorney, the work the paralegal performs is usually more involved in the legal aspects of the case while the legal secretary creates order in a sometimes chaotic atmosphere and then maintains that order even under extreme stress.
Working with Clients
In this aspect, the role of the legal secretary is usually confined to administrative work. They will be responsible for scheduling and rescheduling meetings, taking messages from clients and keeping track of the paperwork that clients are required to fill out. While paralegals may also function as administrators, legal secretaries rarely do paralegal work. Paralegals are involved in cases on a more one-to-one level, since they often conduct client interviews. This is a delicate position that requires tact as well as skill, since while paralegals can draft documents and help the client understand exactly what each document means in the context of the case, they are never supposed to provide legal advice to clients.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal, we offer great programs for both diplomas and Associate’s Degrees in Paralegal Studies. Find out which one is right for you and get started with us today!
Many people don’t really understand what it is that paralegals do, which can be a bummer since paralegals are so indispensable. Being a paralegal is a great way to work in the legal field without having to commit yourself to law school or pass the bar exam. It may not surprise you to find out that The Paralegal Institute at Brighton College offers online paralegal training. This way, you can study for your new career at a pace that works for you. We have two different options for online paralegal training- a diploma program and associates degree. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal, request some more information from us today!