Tools for the Professional Paralegal
The paralegal career path can be full of interesting, diverse and challenging work that provides years of insight and wisdom into the legal system, helping bridge the gap between the legal system, attorneys and lawyers and the clients that are served within. Paralegals are often responsible for much of the paperwork involved in criminal and civil trials, including preparing briefs, documents, depositions and filing various papers within the court system as well as researching and keeping files and information updated.
A paralegal may work within a law firm or other organization, or may work as a freelance contractor, providing services to various agencies. The option to freelance is appealing to many paralegals as it allows schedules to be flexible, and many of the agencies that hire a paralegal may not have space in-house to accommodate the needs of the paralegal. Many of the tools that a paralegal require are specific to the clerical and administrative aspects of the job, including paralegal software that helps with word processing and time management, a printer, fax and scanner for paper documents and a phone with voicemail or an answering machine specifically for “business.”
A computer is another consideration for the paralegal. With privacy concerns, it is recommended that a paralegal have a computer that is strictly for the use of work. In addition, due to the nature of the job and its travel requirements, a laptop may be preferred over a desktop computer for ease of portability. The paralegal also needs a designated space to work, such as a home office, a locking filing cabinet for record-keeping, and a reliable means of transportation. Other considerations may include business cards, a resume and cover letter, a website or other marketing materials that help the paralegal secure new clients and keep current clients informed as to the services provided or any other pertinent information. In addition, a paralegal certification shows that he or she has met the requirements for the job.
Helping lawyers, attorneys and clients through the legal process is an exciting and challenging profession that takes knowledge, dedication and insight. Paralegals provide many of the services needed within the court system and law firms that keep legal issues private and professionally managed, enabling more favorable outcomes for those who are in need of legal services. With the right tools for the job, a paralegal is able to provide professional services to various agencies, law firms and clients, either as a full-time paralegal or as a contracted freelance service provider.