Paralegals or legal assistants work hand-in-hand with lawyers, although it doesn't necessarily mean that paralegals can only work in a law firm. Some paralegals work behind businesses and companies that need the knowledge and skills or a legal assistant on a daily basis. A paralegal can also have a career in fields such as real estate, banks, immigrations, entertainment industries, labor relations and even certain government organizations. Find out how you can become a paralegal without experience.
- Employers do not normally require you to have an associate degree in paralegal studies. But earning one from an accredited school will definitely give you an edge to start as a paralegal without experience. This will also look good if you're looking for a job. If you have a bachelor's degree in any field, a certificate and associate paralegal studies are also available in colleges as well as online.
- Applying and finishing an internship in a law firm will take you further. A lot of paralegal programs require you to finish internship as a requisite for a degree. Find out if your school offers internship program which prepares its students to be competitive paralegals. In some cases where internship is not a part of their syllabus, opting for an internship will earn you points in coming up with a good resume.
- Volunteer work will gain you the much needed experience that you will not get inside the classrooms. A volunteer work in a legal aid office will expose you to the different tasks of a paralegal such as handling client interviews, finding witnesses and interviewing them, conducting legal research and even drafting motions, pleas, mortgages, separation agreements, contracts and other legal documents.
- Make sure that your resume will emphasize your paralegal studies, volunteering and internship experiences. Do not hesitate to highlight previous office experiences, even if they are not related to paralegal work. This will also be considered, since your experience in working in an office atmosphere will also be assessed. You should also include all other special accomplishments, projects and other feats you have achieved on your studies and paralegal service.
- Start sending your resume to companies with paralegal position openings. Try not to zero in on those openings that require a two-year experience. Your volunteer work and internship should earn you an advantage in getting a job as a paralegal assistant. Some may require at least a six-month experience but this is not always a strict policy, as some companies do really look for paralegals that are willing to be trained according to the company's standards. You can use some references from your professors, classmates and mentors from school, as well as from the lawyers from your internship and volunteer work. Your professors and instructors could also give you some leads on job openings in other law firms.
- There is nothing wrong with starting at the bottom of the ladder and climbing your way to the top. If there is no paralegal job to fill in, you can start as a legal secretary and show your competence as you work. The paralegal job will be just around the bend, and will be worth the wait once you have proven your aptitude and qualifications.
The need for paralegals will continue to increase over the years. Lawyers often prefer to hand over some responsibilities to paralegals to avoid hiring more lawyers or have another partner. This means that in the long run, starting at the bottom of the ladder will definitely pay off.