But in regard to blog posts which might interest other paralegals, I’m starting to look like a bag lady, with several large piles of legal articles, magazines, pamphlets, newspaper clippings and written notes. And let’s not talk about all the quick emails I send myself with ideas, which is where I found a January 2009 email reminding myself to talk about how to be successful on that first paralegal job.
Here’s my "Top 10 List for Brand New Paralegals":
- Listen more than you talk. Pay close attention - many things become clear through keen observation.
- After listening carefully, ask thoughtful questions and get clear instructions. If the people you need to question are not easily accessible, try well-drafted email inquiries.
- Save samples or go-by documents in a notebook and/or word processing directory. If you’ve worked with a document once, know where to find it the next time you need it.
- Carefully review existing firm documents and immediately learn how to thoroughly search the firm’s word processing directory. Search it before asking co-workers for help.
- Always have a pad available to take excellent notes. If someone is giving you instructions, make sure that you are writing them down – legibly and accurately.
- Use the firm’s calendaring/to do system to enter deadlines and reminders for all tasks. If the firm doesn’t have a system, create one that works for you.
- Prioritize your daily tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance if you are not sure what to do first.
- Obtain a basic CLE education in your specialty area(s) by attending courses for beginners (paralegals and attorneys), reviewing CLE manuals available in the firm’s library and reading recommended publications.
- Seek mentors by joining at least one active paralegal association, reviewing paralegal listservs (even once a week via digest is better than not at all), personally networking with other legal professionals at CLE seminars, and virtually networking with other legal professionals on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
- Stay up-to-date in your field by reviewing relevant magazines, ezines and websites, and by following reputable legal bloggers.
The legal field is always changing, and the most talented legal professionals are always learning. A successful paralegal is alert, curious and, like a magpie, is a seeker and hoarder of shiny new information.