In the 2020's, the Computerized Modern World of the Law., Paralegals Stand As Bastions of Total Legal Support
A Famous Man of the Law, once said:
"...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.
Sometimes we are in a Great Need of Professional Legal Support
Paralegal - A Legitimate Legal Bastion of Professional and Technical Support
In 1995, I was working in paralegal education, was teaching, and wrote a textbook about the paralegal profession. A long time ago, I learned that "Yes, there is a place for men in the paralegal world, and yes, you can keep working in the profession." But in the modern era, a paralegal is a valued pro in all of the various and demanding positions in American Legal Life.
Now, in the post 2020 computerized world of the Law, Paralegals are a permanent part of Professional Support. Now, there is no doubt about its viability as a professional niche that thousands of people work in. A paralegal really does have a permanent viable role in the midst of the Legal Fray.
A History of Morphing with Need and Technology -
The specialized programs that now populate the world of Litigation and many specialized areas are sometimes required going in. Simply stated you must be technologically competent, and have the confidence of a pro.
Technology Rules The Day - "There's an app for that."
With the internet and software proliferation, and the BIG MOVE to PAPERLESSNESS in the law, the new and the old paralegal has to be ready, willing and skilled in specific requirements. EFILING is changing the whole legal world. This is a "goes without saying" aspect, but the aspiring paralegal has to realize more and more that if they do not have a specific technological program under their belts, they might not get the interview.
Willingness to Learn -
The watchword for paralegal character and skill profile is the willingness to learn. Adaptable, trainable, teachable. These are all aspects to emphasize as you craft your resumes and prepare for your interviews. If you are pondering this profession, these word processing and information processing talents are more of a natural for the younger applicants who have grown up in a new world of technology. However, the young may not be as prepared for the reality of pay and promotion.
Outside of the Big Law Firm - Corporations with Legal Departments
At the Sole Practitioner, you can become essential and respected, with pay increasing as you go. Small law firms, and smaller companies can keep paralegal pay quite low on the lower end, but in recent years, it has become competitive.
"Are You Headed For Law School?" -
For those who are not sure they want the law, as a world to work in, becoming a paralegal has been a way to test the waters without plunging in. A young person in their 20's can get a lot of learning done and decide things for themselves, and then NOT go to law school and still not have "wasted" their time. OR, they can go to law school and actually help themselves academically in law school and be much surer of their decision going forward. I have known many people who have done this and all have seen it as a real positive, no matter if the law school choice was a yes or a no.
I remember a woman in her 40's who after two years of paralegal work came into the Placements Office to say hello. She said, "Chris I am going to law school." I wished her well. then 10 years later I saw her being interviewed on a newscast for a high profile criminal case in Southern Colorado. So, the paralegal profession can also be a part of a lawyer's career path.
The Personal Relationship - The Career Housed in Professional Reliance
Many people are paid very well, and keep on getting raises because they have become a "part of the woodwork" at a small firm, or they are a key part of a litigation team at a large firm, or a Sole Practitioner relies COMPLETELY upon this certain paralegal.
Teams of Paralegals -
Contract Administrators and Legal Managers and other titles now fill corporate, business and governmental ranks. The word paralegal can really mean - "Nonlawyer specifically required legal work for the particular milieu that we deal with in this company". Yes, that's right, it's still MORPHING. Yet, what's nice is that everybody generally gets what everyone else is talking about. A paralegal is what a specially trained non-lawyer does here!
If It's a World That Appeals -
If I were counseling a young person, or a mid-lifer about getting into this arena, I would ask one first big question. "Does this world appeal to you?" If you hate lawyers, don't get into it. If you are constantly throwing off the world of order and rules, don't bother. If you have a sales personality and want to let your personality expand, don't get into it.
Some Negatives -
Since I have been basically positive about this profession, I will throw some warning signs at your feet. While lawyers, are individuals, they do have some common traits. Its not that they think they are smarter than you. Of course, they think they are smarter than you. Understand that attorneys think they are SMARTER THAN EACH OTHER. But this high level self image is good for the work they have to do. If they appear to be arrogant, like make-up that they put on every morning, or slap on with their after shave, they are supremely self confident about their place in the world; and, they know they must look like they are. It's a tough world and we all must bear our burdens.
"The hardest working people in the professions are attorneys", but they can't believe they have to work as hard as many of them do. . They will also be upset that making money is as hard as it is. Then because it is the law, they will always be in a state of struggle. But stop and think. If you look at all of this positively, you will see the inevitability of the development of the paralegal profession in this context.
A Great Payoff -
Once you get all of these elements as a Picture that can be understood and appreciated, there is a great payoff. Its a fun world with challenge. The attorneys you end up working with will be the essential part of the world in which you labor and will and constitute the "flora and fauna" of the legal forest you are working and moving in. Its a truly fun and challenging professional status you can have. And guess what -- you don't have to go to law school to participate!
Prosecutor - "Dennis, Did you shoot your shotgun on May 5?"
Dennis: "I shot my two-hole Blow gun".
Prosecutor: "Jimmy says you were aiming at him."
Dennis: "If I was aimin' at Jimmy, I woulda hit him! I look up and see 3 duck. I shoot my 2 hole blow gun, So, the fact that I hit his derriere, proves I was not aimin' at him, but I was aimin' at de duck, which I always miss."
Dennis: "I look up. I see de duck comin. There was one in a BUNCH, and three all by themselves"
© 2009 Christofer French