Expanding On Your Paralegal Career
2 May 2017
Last week I was lucky enough to attend the SPA conference in Glasgow, where I was able to network with some truly great Paralegals and their employers. It’s a really interesting event as it allows me to really get to grips with developments within the industry.
A common theme from the Paralegals that I spoke to was that, whilst positive changes have been made within the sector, there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of career opportunities. Interestingly, SPA is the only conference /event specific to the Paralegal sector, whilst there are several events throughout the year for other roles within the legal industry.
The legal sector has had a number of issues progression and the – largely female – Paralegal market has done its best to challenge the existing hierarchy and stereotypes. However, many Paralegals still feel that there are limited opportunities to progress their career.
This is despite the fact that many Paralegals take on a caseload and working hours that are almost indistinguishable from that of a Solicitor. There absolutely needs to be a recognition of the contribution that all these efficient and diligent Paralegals make to the legal sector.
As I have always told my clients who are looking to recruit, having a good Paralegal is at the very heart of a successful law firm. When things are running smoothly, there are no issues. But if your Paralegal is disorganised and things start to go wrong – it can cause some real problems.
There is still a feeling amongst Paralegals that they are underappreciated. This is saddening to hear when I think of the array of hard-working, passionate and determined candidates who I regularly place within Scottish firms.
Paralegals themselves may have to speak up – either at interview stage or further along the line of their career – if they wish to have a more-rounded role. If there are other elements of the business that you want to get involved in (for example, IT) then you should definitely make your ambitions known. There are no prizes for remaining silent.
If you possess skills outwith the normal remit of a Paralegal, you should let your employer or a hiring manager know that you have a desire to perform a more well-rounded role, with a better overview of the firm.
Any hiring manager or solicitor should want their staff to be continuously training and improving their knowledge in order to be a better Paralegal – taking on tasks within different elements of a firm is a part of this.
In a similar way to how the role expectations for legal secretaries are becoming blurred with those of an Executive Assistant, now is the time for Paralegals to make the crossover to other tasks beyond the conventional requirements.
If you are a Paralegal looking to take the next step in your career, I would love to have a confidential chat with you to discuss your experience and your options. I am a firm believer in matching my candidates to a firm where they can flourish. Click here to see my details and get in touch.
Written By Ashley Smith