Skills Needed to Excel as a Litigation Paralegal
To succeed as a litigation paralegal, you need to be part detective, part counselor, and part magician. In addition to the obvious skills, you must be able to approach a problem with creative ideas and find new ways to query the Internet for information. Problem-solving skills and creative thinking are key in finding your way through a maze of issues.
Being able to juggle several things at once and keeping your cool are also necessary skills. I often have six or seven projects going at the same time and new ones constantly arrive that need immediate attention.
Advice for Those Considering the Litigation Field
Working as a litigation paralegal can be a very rewarding career or it can be a horrible job. The law office is not for everyone. Sometimes a paralegal has to work in several areas in order to find the area of law that best suits them. If litigation does not feel like a good fit, then think about trying another area of law. Once you find your area, then dig in, learn as much as you can, spend time with other paralegals, volunteer for activities and join organizations available to you.
One of the best things I did personally was to become involved with the New Mexico State Bar, where there is a wealth of support and information available to me. We are very fortunate in New Mexico to have a state bar that embraces paralegals.
Most Memorable Moment as a Litigation Paralegal
One of the funniest things I remember happened when I volunteered to answer phones on a free Law Day call-in. People in the community could call in and get free advice on how to deal with various legal problems. As a paralegal, my function was to forward the call to the volunteer attorney who specialized in the area of law in question.
I will never forget the woman who wanted to sue the person who had messed up her eyebrows. She had gone to a beauty parlor that applied permanent dye cosmetics. Unfortunately, the eyebrows had come out uneven and she was now going through life with one eyebrow furrowed down as if in anger and the other eyebrow arched up high as if in perpetual surprise. I think I forwarded that call to a personal injury attorney because I was not sure who could help her! I learned that legal issues come in all shapes and sizes, literally.
We use CompuLaw for calendaring and Summation for document management. The firm also uses Hummingbird as the data base management system. With 13 offices across the country, these programs allow us to easily transmit work between offices when help is needed.