Graduates, like myself, often start their careers as a paralegal to gain insight and deeper understanding into the life of a solicitor. Often, paralegals who are aspiring solicitors will apply for a training contract at the firm they are already employed with. In this post, I set out my four top tips for paralegals wanting to take the next step into qualification.
Make your intentions known
First, it is important to make your intentions known. Tell your employer at the earliest opportunity that you want to grow with the firm and agree on a timeline by which you will take the next step in your development. To put this in practice, you should tell your employer either at your interview for the role or during your development review meetings, that within six months you want to obtain a training contract with the firm. By doing this, all parties have a clear understanding of how you want to progress in your career and can offer you support in doing so.
Set clear expectations
Second, you and your employer should set out a list of expectations. This may look like a record of tasks or competencies you should be able to demonstrate in your role within the firm before your training contract commences. This is beneficial because each time you become competent in a task; this is evidence that you’re capable to take on further responsibility.
Take advantage of every opportunity
Third, take every opportunity to demonstrate that you are an advocate of the firm. You can ask to sit in on client meetings. This is an excellent way to showcase your ability to not only build relationships with clients but to also represent your firm. This is a key skill that will be expected of you as a trainee and indeed as a qualified solicitor.
My final tip is to exceed your hours. If you are new to the concept of time recording and chargeable targets read my post ‘What they don’t teach you in law school - time recording.’ Your chargeable targets are likely to be higher as a trainee than a paralegal. It is extremely helpful if you can show your employer that you can match the expected hours of a trainee prior to securing your training contract with them as this provides security that you will make money for the firm as a trainee.