Technology’s importance in everyday life and business continues to grow by leaps and bounds. It has revolutionized the way legal processes function, creating a wonderful career opportunity for a paralegal with excellent technology skills.
According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the courts expect attorneys and their support team (including paralegals) to be up to date on electronic stored information (ESI). Since paralegals are usually assigned discovery tasks, it is crucial that they understand ESI and e-discovery.
Ethics and professional conduct
The American Bar Association in 2012 amended its Model Rule of Professional Conduct to include technological knowledge in a legal professional’s obligation to keep client information confidential. In California, Formal Ethics Opinion No. 2015-193 details tasks that attorneys and paralegals must comply with to ethically and competently represent their clients (in terms of technology).
Efficiency and cost control
Legal technology costs have diminished over the last 10 years, but the greatest expense is in processing, storing and searching for data. The cost for each case is different, so it is important for a paralegal to be aware of technology tools that can reduce both firm and client costs. Having electronic information that is accessible to those who need it increases the efficiency of the legal process.
Value to employers and clients
A paralegal who is technologically skilled is an asset to a law firm. Attorneys are busy people who rely on paralegals to search databases, do research electronically and keep abreast of new rules that are updated electronically. If a paralegal knows where to go to quickly and gather information a lawyer or client needs, he or she is performing a valuable service.
Paralegals and other law professionals must know how to access, retrieve and manage ESI to protect their clients.
ESI includes emails, Word files, spreadsheets, digital photos, videos, texts and IMs, call logs, voicemails, database records and social media postings that can be found in computer hard drives, network servers, USB drives, databases and mobile devices and on social media websites.
Career opportunity and higher salaries
The rise of technology has created expanded responsibilities – and new job titles – for paralegals. Increasing your technology skill set can also increase your salary. New career opportunities are appearing for paralegals who specialize in e-discovery and legal project management. Your salary (and value) can go up if you are able to combine legal expertise and advanced technology skills in litigation, information governance, compliance and cybersecurity.
How to increase your technology skill set
There are several easy ways to make yourself invaluable to the legal industry as a paralegal, but being technically savvy is one of the best. Here are easy ways you can boost your skills:
- Learn the legal technical vocabulary
- Volunteer to work on e-Discovery and seek additional training
- Accept offers from vendors who demonstrate litigation software
- Read industry blogs and sign up for free webinars on changes in legal technology
- Be proactive
- Find a mentor to help you learn more about technology
MTI College paralegal program
If you’re fascinated by the legal world but becoming an attorney is not on your immediate radar, consider registering for the ABA-approved MTI paralegal program. It gives you the education you need to work in a law firm, government agency or corporate legal department, assisting lawyers and performing many of the same duties. The MTI paralegal program provides you with the minimum requirements to become a paralegal in California. In just two years, or less, you can earn your associate’s degree in paralegal studies and head out to begin a career in a field that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says is growing.
If you have the interest and the necessary personal traits to become a paralegal, enroll now in the MTI College Paralegal program for the education you need to get that important first job.