How to Get an Entry Level Paralegal Job
It’s no surprise that a lot of people want a career in law. The National Jurist details that enrollment in law schools rose by 8% in 2018, indicating an uptick in those interested in entering the profession and, with a lot of hard work, there will be more law professionals in the coming years. But considering that the American Bar Association reported a drop in the first-time bar pass rate last year, one has to ask if there are other options in the field of law aside from being a lawyer.
Enter, the paralegal profession. Paralegals are involved in almost every aspect of the legal process: They draft motions, summarize reports, and aid lawyers in their day-to-day activities. This gives paralegals the opportunity of hands-on involvement in legal proceedings. It’s no surprise that CNN Money lists paralegal work as their 27th best job in America — a full 10 steps above lawyers at 37th — as the former entails the same level of stress and flexibility as the latter, but with less difficulty. Moreover, many paralegals cite the work as engaging, fulfilling, and rewarding.
So, how do you land a job as a paralegal? Follow these tips to increase your chances of beginning your career in law.
Obtain a Paralegal Degree or Certificate
It’s a general rule that potential paralegals possess some form of formal education. And while it isn’t unheard of, it would be rather difficult to land the job without at least a two-year degree or certificate from a paralegal program. Although, it would be important to note that companies are starting to favor candidates who possess a four-year degree in paralegal and legal studies. If you do opt for the certificate route, make sure that it is a program approved by the American Bar Association to improve your chances of getting hired, as being in an approved program as opposed to one that isn’t could be the determining factor in whether you get the job or not.
Optimize Your Resume
Take a page from our playbook in How to Get an Entry Level IT Job : Leveraging your relevant skills will be of the utmost importance. And while your competitors will probably have similar certificates or diplomas as you, one way for you to stand out is to highlight your soft skills. The testimonials on Special Counsel highlight how legal firms look for a candidate’s ‘creativity’ and ‘competitive drive’ when screening, as job candidates that come from similar educational backgrounds tend to offer the same or at least similar technical skills. It’s also important to take note of all the different types of paralegals.
Make sure to optimize your resume by showing why your specific skill set matches the type of paralegal role you’re applying to. If you’re applying for a position as an immigration paralegal, for instance, it would help to mention your educational experience in the immigration process and your adept knowledge on immigration law. Keep these things in mind when preparing your resume for that next job application.
Job Experience via Internships
We can’t stress how valuable an internship will be to the whole job application process. Internships will give you a glimpse of what it would be like to work as a paralegal, on top of giving you firsthand job experience. In fact, the American Bar Association recommends that paralegal students spend a significant number of hours interning, as it gives them practical knowledge in the field that they wouldn’t have learned within the classroom.
Another advantage that interning gives you is learning how to be a part of a team. A paralegal’s job is mostly collaborative, as you’ll be assisting lawyers every step of the way. The job requires a significant amount of collaboration, which is something that can be practiced during your internship.
Ace the Interview
Your job interview, along with this last tip, is a culmination of all the previous pointers mentioned above. One important thing to remember is to answer all the questions in relation to your firsthand experience with the subject matter. This is where those internship hours come into good use. This is also where you’ll be able to showcase your familiarity with the field you’ve chosen. Avoid catch-all answers and be as specific as possible when answering any of the interview questions, as this will help you set yourself apart from other candidates.
Empire Resume Can Help
Empire Resume has helped thousands of students transition into the workforce. A stellar resume can help you breakthrough into the career of your dreams. We can showcase your achievements and skills into an expertly written resume that will guarantee you an interview. Contact us today to get started on getting an entry level paralegal job!
Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.