Paralegals are not written about or spoken about as famously (or infamously) as attorneys, but there’s no doubt that law offices would come to a grinding halt without the support of these skilled professionals. Being a paralegal is a great job – in fact, it was ranked as one of the 20 best jobs in the U.S. by CNN.Money; the money is decent, the work hours are not crazy or too long, and you’re relatively free of stress when compared to most other jobs. And if you’re looking to climb up the professional ladder, you could choose to become a paralegal manager.
A paralegal manager is the liaison between the management of a law firm or corporate legal department and its paralegals. Their responsibilities include recruiting and training new employees, general administrative tasks, planning and scheduling seminars and other improvement programs for legal assistants, preparing and submitting performance reviews, planning projects and assigning members to teams, and overseeing daily operations of the paralegal team in the law firm.
If you want to become a paralegal manager, here’s what it takes to become one:
- Experience as a paralegal: You need many years of experience in the legal industry, either as a paralegal, legal assistant, or in any managerial role in a law firm. Once you have the experience on your side, and know the workings of a law office thoroughly, you stand a good chance of moving into a senior managerial position.
- Management skills: If you’re interested in moving to the management side, your chances of success improve when you have a degree or certificate course in management under your belt. Alternatively, you can gain some practical experience on the management side, either through an internship or training program.
- Strong networking skills: Being a manager means having strong people skills – you must know how to work with others and ensure smooth relations with and between members of your team. As a manager, you’ll also have to deal with people from many other departments, all of whom will be pushing to get their objectives achieved. You need to know how to maximize your team’s chances even as you coordinate and cooperate with other departments.
- Coordination skills: Managers in small firms are responsible for just one team, so you would have to learn to delegate responsibilities to ensure that the job gets done effectively and efficiently. You may have been an excellent paralegal, but you can’t do all the work yourself when you move into a managerial position; rather, you must know how to get the work done, and how to make sure that the best person for the job does it. In a larger organization, you could even be responsible for the coordination of teams spread over different geographical locations.
- Financial skills: Many aspiring managerial candidates fall short because they don’t know the first thing about budgeting, finance and accounts. This is an integral part of every firm’s operations, and a manager must know and understand how budgets are prepared and how they work, how to maintain and read accounts, and how to prepare financial summaries based on quarterly or annual reports.
In addition to these skills, you need a reputation as a hard worker and an ethical person to be promoted up the ranks and into a managerial position.
This guest post is contributed by Chris Jacobson, who writes on the topic of Criminal Justice Degrees. Chris can be reached at his email: firstname.lastname@example.org.