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IBA: Practice Experience Tops Wish list when Recruiting for Paralegal Roles, Survey Reveals

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When it comes to hiring for paralegal positions, knowledge of a specific practice area is the most desirable attribute, according to 66 percent of lawyers interviewed recently by staffing firm Robert Half Legal. Technological proficiency ranked second with 13 percent of the survey response.

Lawyers were asked, “In a competitive job market, which one of the following attributes makes paralegals the most marketable?” Their responses:

Practice area expertise 66%

Technological proficiency 13%

Length of employment/tenure 7%

Associate or bachelor’s degree 7%

Paralegal certification or bar association accreditation. 4%

Other/don’t know 3%

 Total 100% 

“When hiring for paralegal roles, prior practice area expertise will bring a job seeker’s resume to the top of the stack, particularly if that experience is in a high-demand specialty such as bankruptcy or litigation,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “This is a market that favors specialists over generalists — job applicants should highlight the specific skills and expertise that make them the ideal fit for a specific job opening so that employers know they will hit the ground running if hired.”  

Volkert offers the following five tips for job seekers to improve their marketability:

Conduct a career assessment. List your actual accomplishments and current skills. Determine what may be holding you back from advancing professionally.

Fill in the gaps. What skills do you need to develop? Are your technical skills rusty? Is project management a weakness? Take classes or online courses to address these shortcomings.

Stay on the cutting edge. Enhance your potential value to prospective employers by regularly attending legal association conferences, networking events or seminars to stay abreast of developments in the field and also make new contacts.

Consider project or pro bono work. Gain exposure to a variety of law firms, corporations and practice areas by taking temporary assignments. Likewise, volunteering with nonprofit or legal aid organizations also can help you gain experience and expand your skill set. Joining the Indianapolis Bar Association as a paralegal members makes just such opportunities possible.

Tap others’ expertise. Mentors and other professional colleagues can help you identify any gaps in your skills or experience, make professional introductions, and may be able to provide job leads.•

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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