A blog celebrating paralegals – and sharing a few cautionary tales

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Top 10 Tips for Brand New Paralegals

Even though Ive only been blogging since October 2008, I hoard ideas for posts like a magpie hoards food and shiny items. Come to think of it, I also hoard food and shiny items…

But in regard to blog posts which might interest other paralegals, Im starting to look like a bag lady, with several large piles of legal articles, magazines, pamphlets, newspaper clippings and written notes. And lets 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.

Heres my “Top 10 List for Brand New Paralegals”:


    1. Listen more than you talk. Pay close attention – many things become clear through keen observation.


    1. 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.


    1. Save samples or go-by documents in a notebook and/or word processingdirectory. If youve worked with a document once, know where to find it the next time you need it.


    1. Carefully review existing firm documents and immediately learn how to thoroughly search the firms word processing directory. Search it before asking co-workers for help.


    1. 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.


    1. Use the firms calendaring/to do system to enter deadlines and reminders for all tasks. If the firm doesnt have a system, create one that works for you.


    1. Prioritize your daily tasks. Dont be afraid to ask for guidance if you are not sure what to do first.


    1. Obtain a basic CLE education in your specialty area(s) by attending courses for beginners (paralegals and attorneys), reviewing CLE manuals available in the firms library and reading recommended publications.


    1. 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 andFacebook.


  1. 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.



  1. VERY helpful pointers for you new paralegals.

    (Do you mind if I share this with my CAPA members?)


  2. Thanks for commenting. Id love it if you share it with your professional association members. This blog relies of that fancy marketing device, word-of-mouth. 🙂


  3. Lynne,

    Thank you for these tips. I havent started working yet – currently enrolled in my second course – but I am beginning a file for the future. In fact, most of the tips you list are applicable to me today!


  4. Thanks, @libliz – they are applicable to ME today, too, even after 20+ years of working for attorneys!

    I hope youll stay in touch. I love to hear from students.


  5. Good advice for ALL of us, not just newbies. May I reprint this in the NTAP newsletter?


  6. Hi, Mona Lisa – Of course, Im honored if any paralegal association wants to re-print a post. I even have re-print language at the blog sidebar, so, yes, please feel free to use anything that you or your association might find helpful. And thank you so much for the positive feedback.


  7. Dear Lynne,
    Thank you for the article. With your permission, I will add it to New York City Paralegal Associations next bi-weekly newsletter and Mentor Programs reading list.



  8. I really wish I had the benefit of this wisdom when I started working as a paralegal in 2008. These are timeless tips.
  9. Just came across your blog and enjoy it very much. Im almost done with my AA in Paralegal/Legal Assistant. I would love to pick your brain from time to time on HOW TOs, WHAT NOW?…etc. I know I can do this profession, just so very nervous. Im fortunate that I havent had to work while going to school, so now after almost 2 years I feel behind. Your tips are helpful and applicable.


  10. im persuing the paralegal degree and there is still alot to learn anyone help me outReply
  11. Love the tips, I had to read this for one of my paralegal classes and as like other going to print it out and keep it as I am just starting my paralegal degree. Also I wanted to say love your assistant!!! I have a corgi as well, he is more like my grumpy old man than assistant but love him still. I also foster for a local corgi rescue in my area. Thanks again for the tips!Reply
  12. Where can I get CLE information? Can someone who does not have paralegal certification attend CLE classes?
  13. Ms. DeVenney:

    This is great information and I plan on reposting this article to my website per the instructions you have provided on the front page about crediting your work.


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