Reaching Your Career Goals
Getting that first paralegal job is not the end of career goal setting. While you are getting valuable experience in the paralegal field you must be open to the possibilities to advance your career. Career advancement may involve creating your own opportunities within your current job or changing jobs.
Creating Career Opportunities
You may advance in your current position without much effort. As you demonstrate your capabilities, the supervising lawyers will become comfortable with giving you assignments that are more challenging. The paralegal should seek out these assignments. Every memo should end with suggestions for further action. The paralegal should request assignments that expand and test developing skills. If necessary, the paralegal should ask that some duties be reassigned to less experienced employees. If the paralegal demonstrates a willingness to perform tasks that are more complex for the lawyer, the lawyer is likely to think of the paralegal when those opportunities arise.
Expanding your career opportunities does not require a long, serious conversation with your supervising attorney. Chances for expanded responsibility occur every day; there is always more work to be done on a client matter. Suggest a course of action or offer to handle a task; most lawyers respond positively to paralegals who are genuinely interested in the cases they are assigned.
Changing Jobs or Specialties
Your current job may not meet your career goals. You may want to work in a different environment or to develop a specialty. The mobility of the legal work force allows the paralegal to pursue career development through job change. The process of making a job change is similar to the initial job search process, except that the paralegal now has experience to offer the prospective employer.
A change in specialty may involve additional education. The paralegal can seek out assignments in a specific field, but if the firm does not practice in that area, experience must come from further education or seminars. The paralegal may have to start at the bottom of the seniority list and work up to desired assignments. When making a change of specialty, the paralegal should seek out a small firm with that specialty or a large firm with specialty departments.