Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Commentary: New Paralegals Need Focus and Strategy Toolbox in Workplace

Hiring partners are searching for candidates within a small set of parameters and something unique to the legal profession, according to Gailynne M. Ferguson on Law.com - Commentary: New Paralegals Need Focus and Strategy Toolbox in Workplace. Paralegals with newly-minted degrees and certificates are turned away as "overqualified" yet inexperienced, even though they may have acquired impressive skill sets in their prior careers. Ms. Ferguson says:

Those who are charged with the hiring process should realize that paralegals presently coming out of a certificate or degree program are more focused on their new career and anxious to go the extra mile in the workplace environment to make a statement and leave a footprint.


Ferguson goes on to emphasize what hiring managers are looking for: technological savvy and research abilities. Legal staffing firms can help paralegals put together a skill set from their previous careers that translate into the legal environment. However, in places where the value of paralegals is not realized, many firms would rather use a secretary who understands the firm's "culture," she says.

Ferguson concludes:

Employers need to look outside the box for potential and trainability of the paralegal. The paralegal needs to understand the complexities of the legal environment and its personalities. Different perspectives and experiences should not be overlooked by either, but rather embraced, because what a better resource for a firm than someone who has truly experienced firsthand what the firm may someday have to defend.

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