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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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