What personal development is available to paralegals?

Amanda Hamilton, CEO of National Association of Licensed Paralegals
Amanda Hamilton
paralegal getting ready, wearing a suit and tie

Continue to develop your paralegal skills with our top tips

One of the reasons the paralegal profession is such an appealing career choice is that there are lots of opportunities for personal development. You won’t leave your first job without being able to navigate a busy office, skillfully use various office software platforms and speak with authority and confidence. Most of all, work as a paralegal gives you the freedom to pursue other ways of developing yourself, personally and professionally. For example, you’re free to train remotely and, once qualified, you can practice in a workplace that suits you, whether that’s as part of a large law firm or as a freelancer.

Plus, whether you’ve just starting out as a paralegal or you’re a seasoned professional, you can also actively develop your legal and personal skills through online courses and training. It’s a great way to help your progression in the legal industry, plus many of the soft skills you’ll learn are also applicable in a variety of other workplaces.

So, where do you start? Below we’ve outlined the many development options available to paralegals and where to find them…

Learn new practical skills

When you first enter a paralegal role, the wide range of responsibilities can be daunting. Your colleagues will help you to learn over time, but you’ll also be expected to learn some of it on your own. The Practical Skills course provided by the National Paralegal College (NPC), one of our training centres, can help. For example, it covers the duties involved in attending court on civil and criminal matters, district judge applications in chambers and attending employment tribunals. As an added bonus, the course is now accredited with 12 CPD points, too.

Improve your performance and personal impact

Confidence is a big part of being a successful paralegal but, when you first enter the industry, you may be less confident than you’d like. Over time this will change but there are also lots of training programmes designed to help you boost your confidence, present yourself and your ideas better and have greater impact. For example, The Method offers over 50 bite-size modules of different performance-enhancing techniques and their approach to learning and embedding those skills is highly effective.

Write concise and persuasive drafts

Drafting is an integral part of the role of a paralegal. The Professional Paralegal Skills Drafting course is an NPC course that provides valuable training in the principles of drafting. On it you’ll learn how to draft everything from informal documents to instructions to counsel or conveyancing documents.

Become a skilled negotiator

Knowing how to negotiate well is helpful in many areas of life but, as a professional paralegal, it’s an essential and very desirable skill. Sign up for the National Paralegal College’s Negotiating Course to learn about the context for negotiation, how to plan, the ethics of negotiating and the four key stages. It also covers negotiating in criminal proceedings and conveyancing, and will gain you six CPD points.

Work on your office skills

The skills needed in your paralegal work, such as source analysis, critical reading and writing and digital know-how, are useful for any career. Office skills, including using office software, writing a formal letter, and organising your own time and workload, are also great life skills. If you’d like to improve your office software skills try Microsoft Office Courses, which offers a wide range of online training in software such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.

Develop networking skills to be proud of

Simply working as a paralegal will improve your networking skills hugely. You’ll meet a variety of people from different backgrounds, destined for different places. Plus, it’s a great way to make friends! If you’d like to improve your networking skills, take a look at Aspire Leadership’s Networking Training Course, which promises tools and techniques for meeting new people, creating and maintaining meaningful conversations, working the room and nurturing good business relationships.

Learn to work independently

Finally, a qualified freelance paralegal needs to work well independently. Then you can take on as much or as little work as you like, building your portfolio with as many clients as possible or enjoying the flexibility of freelancing if you have other responsibilities, such as childcare. Learning to work independently is a skill that will increase over time, but here are a few tips from job website Indeed to help you

In summary, a paralegal career is one with plenty of opportunities for personal development, both at work and at home. It also allows you to pursue a high-powered profession while keeping on top of your personal life and continuing to learn, grow and find new professional opportunities. Want to find out more? Click here for more details about the National Paralegal College or here for one of our many other training centres.

Amanda Hamilton, CEO of National Association of Licensed Paralegals
Amanda Hamilton

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