If you have made the choice to enroll in the MTI paralegal studies program, you know that in just two years or less you can be out looking for a job in the fascinating legal world. With paralegal MTI training, you will have gained the essential background you need for that important first opportunity.
As a graduate of the MTI paralegal studies program, you could find yourself working in the legal department of a corporation, for a government agency or in a law firm assisting attorneys and performing many of the same duties. Depending on where that first job lands you, you could find yourself supporting multiple lawyers simultaneously.
Do you have what it takes? Let us find out.
You must be an organizational wizard.
Since every piece of data is important in a legal case, knowing where to find it at a moment’s notice is crucial. To be a successful paralegal working for multiple attorneys, organizational skills should be second nature to you. In addition to having your own files and documents organized, you are going to need to keep your attorneys organized as well. They often are extremely busy and expect you to step up and oversee the details. You need to be able to keep them focused and at ease so they can do what they need to do. This means being able to manage your workflow and theirs in a sufficient and timely manner. Being well organized is also key to reducing job stress.
You must be a multi-tasker extraordinaire.
The legal world is fast-paced, and working as a paralegal requires being very detail-minded. When you are a paralegal, your duties can include:
- Searching research databases to find case law and legal precedents
- Drafting legal documents using litigation software
- Interviewing and communicating with clients
- Assisting with trial preparation and depositions
Keep in mind that if you are working for multiple attorneys, each one is looking for you to complete those duties. That is a lot of time-sensitive work that requires being able to multi-task. You may have to schedule an appointment for one, prepare trial notes for another or just jump in and help with whatever needs to be done.
If you embrace technology, your firm has likely adopted task management software or apps to help you manage your deadlines. Some email programs, such as Gmail and Outlook, already have task management built into the software. Sticky notes, manual calendars and notes are also useful aids but remember all data must be entered into the software for the other legal professionals within your firm to view the information. You never rely solely on sticky notes or a manual calendar to manage each project.
You must be a diplomat with a strong backbone.
Let us say you work for three attorneys. Each is going to have a different personality and probably a different work style. The common denominator is that all three think their cases or tasks for you, the paralegal, are the most important. You know you can organize and multi-task, but at some point, you are going to have to be assertive and let them know that maybe Lawyer B’s task is more urgent than Lawyer C’s. Ask each attorney what task is most pressing and when it must be completed. Do not be afraid to tell them if something else is taking precedence. With your good organizational skills and ability to multi-task, you will be able to handle it all.
Keep in mind that your day-to-day activities may also include interacting with clients, witnesses, court personnel, attorneys from other firms and work colleagues. Staying professional and diplomatic is essential — even when personalities clash or you are under pressure.
You must be an excellent communicator.
When working for multiple attorneys, you will have projects with competing deadlines. One attorney might give you very clear instructions, whereas another might just scribble a note. You will need to use your best listening skills and ask questions to get a clear picture of what is expected of you. As you get to know each attorney’s style and preferences, you will figure out the best way to communicate with them to deliver what they have requested. Never be afraid to ask questions for clarification and always remember to write down the answer to your question. Attorneys welcome questions as long as you do not keep asking the same question!
The MTI College Paralegal Studies program prepares you with the education you need to gain an entry-level paralegal job. That, plus your perseverance, dedication and personality traits, can prepare you to work for multiple attorneys.