The job of a paralegal isn’t an easy one. Legal assistants wear several different hats—from investigating the facts of a case and arranging evidence to be trial-ready, to getting affidavits and filing appeals, there’s no lack of work to be done in this industry. These tasks only touch the surface of what you may be expected to do in your paralegal career.
Understandably, with such a complex workload, making mistakes isn’t uncommon.
Even still, the following errors should be avoided at all costs:
1. Failing to Organize
On any given day, a paralegal might have to:
- Conduct research on laws
- Organize documents for filing
- Write pre-trial reports
- Draft contracts and correspondences
- Take notes or review transcripts
And the list goes on.
With this in mind, staying organized is one of the most important things a paralegal can do. According to the organization experts at exhibitindexes.com, you may need to use supplies such as side tabs (which allow you to organize by category, case, date, etc.), labels, binders, and more.
It’s a simple solution that’ll keep you on top of your game!
2. Violating Client Confidentiality
As a paralegal, you’re guaranteed to come across some interesting stories.
It may be tempting to divulge these stories to your spouse, friends, or family. What harm could telling them do, anyway?
The answer is, it doesn’t matter.
Not only is there a chance your partner could run across the topic of your conversation while in a job interview or grocery store one day, but it’s unprofessional and, in some cases, terminable. If someone were to find out about your breach of confidentiality, such as the lawyer you work for, you could face loss of reputation at best, and a civil lawsuit at worst.
Additionally, you may be let go from your current firm—and another won’t be as willing to take that risk.
3. Offering Legal Advice or Practicing Law
Paralegals play an integral role in their law firms, regularly communicating with coworkers about rules, regulations, and much more. You’ll become fluent in this language, able to understand it and translate it for unknowing parties.
But, when it comes to your firm’s clients (or even your Saturday spin partner), you’re legally not allowed to practice law.
Any type of legal advice—especially some that are influenced by your opinion—is considered practicing law. The scope of your job begins and ends with facts, like what time a trial begins or what date your next follow-up meeting is.
Don’t Make These Big Mistakes in Your Paralegal Career
Whether you’re a long-time paralegal or fresh out of law school, the above tips can help you excel at your job.
Being organized will help you meet deadlines, find documents, and save time. Keeping clear boundaries between your work and your personal life will ensure you never violate client confidentiality. Finally, you need to hold boundaries within the scope of your job, not offering legal advice to others under any circumstances.
Follow these tips and your paralegal career should remain safe and successful.
For more great career advice and career tips, you know where to go. See you back on the homepage!
*Photos by August de Richelieu