Move Your Career Forward

I want to look for a new job and advance in my paralegal career, but I’ve been with my current employer for more than a decade. How can I make sure my skills are up to par with others competing for the same paralegal jobs? What should I do to wow potential employers with my cover letter and resume?

Congratulations on taking the first step toward moving your paralegal career forward. Because you haven’t looked for a job in awhile, you may want to catch up on thelatest trends affecting legal careers, brush up on certain skills and revamp your legal resume and cover letter to make sure your application really stands out.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE)

Brush up on new laws and high technology trends in the legal world by signing up forcontinuing legal education courses. Paralegals are eligible to take nearly every CLE course that’s available to lawyers. Webinars are convenient and inexpensive, and sometimes even free. In-person events require money and travel time, but you get the advantage of face-to-face networking -- a sure boon to your paralegal career.

Though most courses run from $50 to hundreds of dollars each, there are several free CLE programs:

  • The American Bar Association has aFree CLE Series that allows members to earn up to 18 credits per year. Paralegals can join the ABA as Associates for about $25 a month.
  • In some states, you can earn credits viaLexVid, which offers a host of free CLE videos.
  • The4FreeCLE blog lists upcoming live courses, both in-person and online. Most events are free, though a few charge a fee if you are not a member of a certain organization.
  • Many states’ bar association websites list free online CLE courses for members.

In addition, associations such as theAssociation of Legal Administrators,National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA),National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) andNALS offer continuing education courses specific to the legal profession.

Attention-Grabbing Resumes and Cover Letters

A lot has changed in the 10+ years since you’ve applied for a job. You might consider consulting a recruiter, who can steer you toward positions best suited to your interests and skills. You should alsorevamp your legal resume

  • Eliminate lists explaining your various duties, and instead focus on your biggest career accomplishments and achievements.
  • Mention specializations. Employers are particularly interested in paralegals with expertise in healthcare, general business and commercial law.
  • List relevant attributes or qualifications, such as foreign languages or a background in finance.

Revise and proofread your resume and cover letter several times before sending it; you wouldn’t want to ruin your chances with typos or muddy writing.

What impresses hiring managers? A clean and informative resume that showcases your extensive experience, exemplary hard and soft skills and command of recent developments in the profession. Prepare for your job search by updating your skill set and even getting credentialed, and watch your paralegal career take off.