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Are You an Indispensable Paralegal?

Five ways to ensure that attorneys won"t be able to live without you
A talented paralegal is an attorney"s vital agent in conducting business in the hectic world of documents, phone calls, and legal briefs. As is true in all fields of work, if you are the best at what you do, you will always be in demand.   Erin Brockovich provides a celebrated example of the best legal assistant imaginable; her legal work was immortalized in film by Julia Roberts. By taking a few cues from her career, you can assure your own job security. Take your paralegal career from so-so to stellar by stealing Erin"s moves:
Move #1: Passion, passion, and more passion
Erin"s work was about more than pushing paperwork ... it was about bringing a file to life, culling out the details, seeing people instead of statistics, and going on a personal quest for answers. This passion can ignite even the most hardened attorney. Your divine spark may be the motivation your boss needs to stay afloat and stand out in the sea of attorneys.
Move #2: Mind Your Manners
We"ve all heard enough jokes about attorneys by now to realize that they"re not known for their bedside manner. This is where the superhero of a paralegal steps in and crosses the gap between the attorney and the client with actual human feelings. Your courteous behavior may be enough to keep a client happy who feels otherwise neglected by the attorney who is weeks behind on returning phone calls. You"ll keep the client content and your boss in business.
Move #3: Got Skills?
A legal assistant doesn"t always have to have an associate"s degree or certificate, but it doesn"t hurt. Erin"s beauty pageant titles did not impress her boss much; a degree could have garnered respect much faster. Get your diploma in paralegal studies and post it above your desk. This reminds you, and your boss, that you are a trained professional, and your skills are desired by other potential employers. At your next salary review, it wouldn"t hurt to be armed with a CLA (Certified Legal Assistant) or CP (Certified Paralegal) credential.
Move #4: It"s All in Your Head
Who wasn"t impressed by Erin"s memorization of every client"s name, phone number, and personal information? Her organization was vital to the case. If your memory isn"t perfect, you can fake it by perfecting your own organization system. With every paper file in its place, nobody"s going to be left empty-handed at a critical point in a case. And by keeping apprised of changes to legal software, you"ll be irreplaceable when your boss needs help navigating a program.
Move #5: One Step Ahead At All Times
Erin took great initiative, and you will be equally enterprising if you know about new developments in your boss"s legal specialty before he or she does. Update your employer with the latest Court rulings, and you"ll have established yourself as a bona fide fixture in the establishment.

By Neil Whitehall
Get Paralegal Jobs, Contributing Editor

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