While paralegals are found in all types of organizations they are most known to work in legal firms, government agencies, and in the legal departments of corporations that range in size. Although a paralegal may not assume ultimate responsibility over a case or business decision, their duties aid in the overall productivity of a case, decision, or task. The following resources will help you acquire the information you need to begin your career as a paralegal. Some of these resources may even help you reach new heights in your career and optimize your career related opportunities.
While looking for the program that fits you and your needs best you want be sure that your program of choice is accredited. An accredited paralegal program will feature courses meant to prepare any aspiring legal assistant in legal research, casework, compiling statistics, and preparing attorneys for court proceedings. Here are some of the top accreditation agencies for paralegal programs according to American Bar Association.
As a paralegal, you are often referred to as a practicing law professional’s “right hand.” A paralegal’s duties are expansive and can vary widely. From case prep, to research, the delegated work of a paralegal is essential to ensuring the day-to-day legal operations of a firm or corporation run as smoothly as possible.
Resources for Interacting with Clients
Since paralegals are not practicing lawyers, they are not authorized to give clients legal advice. It is important that a paralegal learns how to communicate with clients without convoluting their client communication by taking on the responsibilities of a practicing law professional. Some suggestions for avoiding this include:
Listening more and talking less
Being as clear and transparent with your client as possible
Keeping your client’s information confidential
Onelegal.com is an online resources that acts as a both a service and technology company. Their mission is to provide litigation support services that help law professionals file, serve, and share court documents within the parameters of the law. Not only does this resource help paralegals (and other law professionals) maintain the confidentiality of their clients, but it can also help them be more ethically responsible while performing the daily delegated duties of their job. Onelegal.com even has a blog that features a clear and easy to follow post about how paralegals can improve clients communication.
Research and Writing Resources for Paralegals
Another part of a paralegal’s job is to conduct research and provide write-ups for an individual lawyer, law firm, or corporation. It is important that the paralegal is collecting accurate and reliable information because this information can be integral when building a case. There are a number of resources paralegals can use for these types of duties.
Findlaw provides a number of resources for law professionals to gather information and write legal documents in their proper format. On this site you can find state and federal case laws and statutes as well as an archive of sample contracts for reference. Formatting is an important aspect of research and writing as a paralegal.
On Nolo, a broader research site useful to those just entering the field, you can find legal forms for download. Nolo also includes a legal directory and a slew of legal books and programs for sale; it’s perfect for the aspiring paralegal!
Lastly, Justia.com, is also a broader research site featuring any information you would need about state and federal laws. From injury laws to business laws, to state and government laws Justia.com has it all.
Assisting with Case Prep Resources
Case prep is another aspect of the delegated duties of a paralegal. Case prep by a paralegal helps the practicing attorney prepare for trials and court proceedings. This process is a multistep process that includes actions like conducting client interviews, gathering and organizing evidence, and completing discoveries. Lucas and Cavalier LLC has prepared a step by step guideline to case prep, perfect for the detail-oriented paralegal.
This guideline includes best practices to case management and will help you become as efficient as possible in your case prep duties. Additionally, Usa.gov, Law Library of Congress, and the Association of Legal Administration are all great resources to use when honing in on your case management and preparation “best practices.”
Resources for Being Organized as a Paralegal
One may argue that organization is important in any profession. However, a legal assistant’s ability to balance the tasks delegated to them by a practicing attorney requires a heightened sense of responsibility, accountability, and of course, organization. Luckily, there are resources out there to aid you in your pursuits as a well organized and productive paralegal.
The Paralegal Mentor is a blog created and ran by Vicki Voisin, the paralegal mentor, and is perfect for anyone seeking strategies for excellence in the paralegal profession. On her blog Voisin features organization tips and ticks as well as a host of other resources fit for the ambitious, goal-driven paralegal.
Current Tools, Research, and Industry News
Last but not least a paralegal must stay current. As the world is ever-changing, so are our laws. Staying up to date with emerging laws, codes, and contracts can help you improve your client relationships and offer new perspectives to the cases you are working on. Legal Talk Network is the home of some of the most informative legal podcasts out there.
Furthermore, you may want to check out the National Paralegal Reporter, Paralegal Today, and the ABA Journal for quick and easy access to legal news. Staying current also means having a network of paralegals available to bounce ideas, get suggestions on case management, and discuss some newly discovered “best practices” in your field.
Not only will becoming a member of the NFPA (National Federation of Paralegals Association) expose you to a network of some of the top paralegals in the field, but it is also a place where you can find up-to-date information about things such as paralegal certifications, paralegal positions and issues, and events for members to attend.