Loading...

PRDV301: Introduction to Paralegal Studies

Unit 10: Becoming a Paralegal   You have learned a lot in the previous nine units.  While you have gotten a good foundation in paralegalism, you still have much to learn.  Nonetheless, it is never too early to start considering the more practical aspects of getting a job as a paralegal.  You need to understand what the entrance requirements are for becoming a paralegal and the best ways to approach finding paralegal jobs.

This unit will cover the practicalities of getting work as a paralegal.  You will learn about various licensing and certification requirements to work as a paralegal.  You will also learn what the outlook is for employment as a paralegal.  Lastly, you will go through the process of developing a resume, writing cover letters, and beginning the process of accumulating a portfolio reflecting your study and work as a paralegal.  By practicing these skills early, you will be prepared to fully engage in the job search once you have completed the required studies and other requirements to become a paralegal.

Unit 10 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 3 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 10.1: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.2: 0.25 hours

☐    Subunit 10.3: 2.25 hours

Unit10 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Identify the registration, certification, and licensure requirements to become a paralegal. - Discuss the career prospects for paralegals. - Draft effective resumes and cover letters for pursuing paralegal employment.

10.1 Registration, Certification, and Licensure   - Reading: National Federation of Paralegal Associations’ “About the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE)” Link: National Federation of Paralegal Associations’ “About the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE)” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and review this
webpage, which describes a particular certification program
sponsored by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.  It
is important to realize that no jurisdictions in the United States
currently require any kind of certification.  However, for those who
are interested, a certification may provide a boost to your
paralegal career.  Explore this webpage and the links to further
information about PACE.  Note that you must have at least a
paralegal associate’s degree from an approved institution or a
bachelor degree in any major paired with experience.  

 Reading this material should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Paralegal Today: Patrick Vuong’s “Paralegal Regulation in the United States” Link: Paralegal Today: Patrick Vuong’s “Paralegal Regulation in the United States” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire article, which provides an overview of certification, legislation, and rules across the United States.  Again, you will note that direct regulation of paralegals tends to be minimal.  Most of the focus is on defining paralegals, legal assistants, and other related personnel.  Review the state of regulation in the various states, and click on some of the links to connect to individual state resources related to this issue.

    Reading this article should take approximately 20 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

10.2 Career Prospects   - Reading: United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Paralegals and Legal Assistants” Link: United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Paralegals and Legal Assistants” (HTML)

 Instructions: This United States government website provides
information important to anyone considering a career as a
paralegal.  Please click on the link above and select the “Job
Outlook” tab, which provides information about the expected rate of
growth for paralegal careers and the reasoning behind the
assessment.  Be sure to click on some of the other tabs, such as
“Pay” and “Similar Occupations.”  

 Reading this material should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

10.3 Getting a Job as a Paralegal   10.3.1 Finding Opportunities   - Reading: The Paralegal Society: Karen George’s “Wanted: Paralegal, No Experience Necessary. A Professional Reality Check” Link: The Paralegal Society: Karen George’s “Wanted: Paralegal, No Experience Necessary.  A Professional Reality Check” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire
article, which presents a hard-nosed view on getting those early
paralegal jobs.  As the article points out, when you decide to
become a paralegal, you enter a different world with different
expectations.  While the initial job search can be challenging, the
potential rewards make it worth it for those who commit to a
paralegal career.  The article is very helpful for the new paralegal
in the advice it provides for getting your foot in the law office
door.  You will see that advancing in a paralegal career is a
process that takes patience and determination, but it has a good
payoff in the long run in terms of career satisfaction and
compensation.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

10.3.2 The Resume   - Reading: LegalTalk Network: Lynne DeVenny and Vicki Voisin’s “Paralegal Resume 101: How to Stand Out from the Competition” Link: LegalTalk Network: Lynne DeVenny and Vicki Voisin’s “Paralegal Resume 101: How to Stand Out from the Competition” (QuickTime)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and click on the play
button to listen to the podcast.  This podcast presents a discussion
with two experienced paralegals and provides pointers on how to get
your paralegal application to the top of the pile.  The presenters
discuss appropriate formats for your application as well as the
issue of dealing with no experience.  

 Listening to this podcast and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

10.3.3 The Cover Letter   - Reading: Leslie Sansone Williams’s “Cover Letter Tips – Part 1,” “Cover Letter Tips – Part 2,” “Cover Letter Tips – Part 3,” and “Cover Letter Tips – Part 4” Link: Leslie Sansone Williams’s “Cover Letter Tips – Part 1”, (MP3) “Cover Letter Tips – Part 2”, (MP3) “Cover Letter Tips – Part 3”, (MP3) and “Cover Letter Tips – Part 4” (MP3)

 Instructions: On each webpage accessed via the links above, click
on the highlighted link to open the audio file.  These audio
recordings explain the importance of the cover letter in getting a
paralegal job.  The cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself
by explaining why you are right for the job.  In addition, the skill
you exhibit in putting together the cover letter reflects on your
professionalism.  These recordings will explain to you how to format
your cover letter and what information to include.  Remember that a
good cover letter is essential to getting your resume noticed.  

 Listening to these audio files and pausing to take notes should
take approximately 20 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

10.3.4 Building a Portfolio of Work   - Reading: State University of New York at Potsdam: Rebecca Anthony’s “A Guide to Your Career Portfolio” Link: State University of New York at Potsdam: Rebecca Anthony’s “A Guide to Your Career Portfolio” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and then select
“Creating a Portfolio” to download the PDF.  This document provides
generalized information about creating a career portfolio.  The
portfolio creates an advantage for the jobseeker as it demonstrates
commitment to the field and allows you to integrate educational work
with demonstrations of work experience as your career develops. 
Your career portfolio can start with the completed assignments in
this course.  As you develop your career portfolio, remember that
you must maintain your obligation to protect client confidentiality.
 Confidential information should be redacted from your documents.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Paralegal Essentials’ “Portfolios – What to Include” Link: Paralegal Essentials’ “Portfolios – What to Include” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this brief article, which deals more specifically with what to include in the paralegal portfolio.  As you continue with your paralegal education, you will learn more about writing briefs, citing authorities, using forms, and other forms of legal writing and communication.  All of these will be important components of your paralegal portfolio.  The article also gives pointers for a good presentation.

    Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.