Entry Level Paralegal Positions
A career as a paralegal is an excellent choice for an individual who wants to work in the legal field, but isn’t interested in going to law school. Paralegals are well respected professionals who earn good salaries and great benefits. However, it’s also a very competitive career field, and getting that first entry level job can be tough.
Getting the Job without a Degree
While it is possible to obtain employment without receiving training or certification, this is generally a difficult path. Most paralegals fulfill a highly specialized role in the legal community, and they can do this most successfully by attending classes. These schools provide paralegals with the knowledge and skills their future jobs require. Nonetheless, people have started out working as a receptionist, file clerk or paralegal assistant. Opportunities for promotion multiply with hard work, dedication and earning a college degree. In fact, a few firms sometimes prefer a paralegal who receives all of their training on the job. This is because it allows the firm to mold the paralegal into exactly the professional they need.
Earning a Degree Opens Doors
A paralegal degree or certificate may make it possible to obtain entry level employment sooner than is possible without such credentials. Still, many recent graduates discover that even with their qualifications they are frequently edged out of a job by candidates with years of professional experience. A difficult job search is no cause for despair. It may make sense to take any job in the legal field to generate contacts and start gaining knowledge about how law firms operate. This also provides valuable opportunities for the paralegal candidate to prove their value to the firm. On the job performance speaks volumes, and more than one paralegal has been promoted from another position.
Other Helpful Steps
Even with a complete paralegal education, applicants may need to improve their qualifications. Volunteering for a local Legal Aid organization and joining a paralegal association are both excellent ways through which to build a professional network. Developing contacts is also a proven method for being the first to find out about job openings. Some paralegal schools provide students with internship opportunities, which should never be passed up. The chance to earn real world experience can mean a lot when it’s time to look for a job.
With diligence and training, it’s possible to obtain a desirable entry level position as a paralegal.