updated on 28 September 2021
Landing your first paralegal role may seem daunting, here are my four tips to help you manage the pressure.
Paralegal roles are highly sought after by both law and non-law graduates, and with many job specifications citing previous experience as desirable or even essential, landing your first paralegal role can be a difficult process.
Since completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in August 2020, I have worked as a family law paralegal at two different law firms; first, at a specialist family law firm in Hertfordshire, and now at a City firm specialising in all aspects of personal legal services.
As cliché as it sounds, each day poses new tasks and challenges, but typical family law paralegal tasks include:
Before securing my first paralegal role, I had only completed a week-long placement at a small family law firm and volunteered on the committee of my university’s pro bono group, as a free legal advice group coordinator. I had no previous paid legal experience, but by following the following tips I managed to impress the recruiters and secure my first legal role.
Just because you don’t have previous legal experience, doesn’t mean you lack the relevant skillset for the job! Read the job description and think about when you have displayed the required skills or competencies and discuss this in your cover letter or application form with examples to support your points. Use the job description as a checklist, and ensure you mention every skill or competency that the firm is looking for somewhere within your application.
Tailor your application to the firm, and more specifically to the department you’re applying to. Show that you have done your research and know exactly why you will fit in well with the firm’s values and culture, and why the work that you will be doing within the specific department is suited to your skills, interests and experience. Remember to support every point with an example!
Try to connect with people who already work at the firm or, better yet, do the specific job that you’re applying for. Connect with current paralegals on LinkedIn and speak to them about what their job entails. Recruiters are always impressed if you can show you have actively taken steps to understand the role you will be doing and build connections at the firm, instead of just reading the job description on the website.
Most importantly, try to be yourself throughout the process! Don’t present yourself in a way that you think the firm wants you to come across. Recruiters would rather get to know you for who you really are so they can assess whether you’re a good fit for the firm and whether they are also a good match for you. There’s only one you, so use your uniqueness to your advantage and don’t be afraid to let the recruiter know why you stand out!