The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
I have the message from a fortune cookie taped to my computer monitor. It reads, “You are capable, competent, creative and careful.” Each time I see those words, I think of being a paralegal. As a paralegal, we must be mindful of these four words — the four C’s of our profession.
Paralegals must be capable of handling so much: gathering medical records, summarizing depositions, drafting discovery, and preparing trial notebooks, usually for multiple cases and often for multiple attorneys all at the same time.
Paralegals must be competent as well. We must know both substantive and procedural law. We must know a variety of computer applications and software. We must know how to deal with those difficult clients, witnesses and attorneys. We absolutely need to know how to manage our time and caseloads.
Paralegals are creative. How else could we deal with our caseload, clients and co-workers while still maintaining a satisfying personal life?
Finally, paralegals must be careful. We are constantly aware of ethical constraints and must recognize our obligations and those of our supervising attorneys. We must constantly be cautious of what we produce in discovery, what we say to whom and how we interact with others not intimately involved in the case.
There is a fifth C not listed on my fortune and it is the pinnacle of our profession—certification. Why become certified? Certification is a tangible affirmation of the four C’s. It is an attestation of our skills evidenced by the framed certificate hanging on the wall. It shows everyone who sees the certificate, your credentials or your work product that you are capable, competent, creative and careful.
Certification demonstrates your level of commitment (yet another C) to this profession. It provides benefits to you through increased compensation and greater confidence in your abilities. Becoming a Certified Paralegal is the culmination of our capability, competency, creativity and care.
Deana Waters, Advanced Certified Paralegal, lives and works in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her professional profile may be viewed at http://www.alaskalaw.com/deana.htm