In modern-day times, varied technology skills are vital for most career paths. To be a desirable candidate for nearly any position in 2019, you must have some specialized technological skills. Paralegals are far from exempt to this increasing need to have specialized computer skills in the workplace. Certain computer skills are vital for a paralegal to have today.
As you can probably guess, paralegals must be able to complete very thorough legal research. However, increasingly, legal research is conducted via online databases, rather than with physical files. Consequently, paralegals must be familiar with legal research platforms such as Lexis Nexus and Westlaw. Possessing great familiarity with such platforms can make a paralegal candidate more desirable to an employer.
Similarly, eDiscovery is becoming increasingly popular to be used in the legal realm. EDiscovery involves producing information useful for litigation from the electronic discovery files. Paralegals may be asked to assist in this process, and therefore must become familiar with the software utilized to analyze eDiscovery for cases.
Also, as we know, paralegals are charged with the duty of possessing exceptional writing skills. In modern times, this also includes the need to be fluent in word processing software. Building to the necessity of writing, paralegals are constantly creating documents for their attorneys and even sharing them with others. Thus, not only is great writing ability necessary, but a need for understanding presentation software and creating spreadsheets becomes very important for a paralegal to succeed.
Finally, electronic case filing is becoming the normal way for court systems to store their information about each case. Hence, a paralegal will need to become familiar with a variety of different systems to file jurisdictions for a variety of different courts. Paralegals must be able to quickly learn and adjust to new systems to complete the tasks that are expected of them.
As you can see, paralegals are responsible for learning and becoming proficient in a variety of computer and technology skills. As a paralegal, one should always be trainable and ready to adapt to any new situation, which includes familiarizing oneself with new software and ways of doing things. As time continues, the computer skills necessary to pursue a career as a paralegal will undoubtedly change, but with a coachable spirit and willingness to learn, everyone can succeed!
By: Anne Gribbins, EKU Graduate Assistant
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References: Houghton, D. (2017, May 19). 7 Technology Skills for Legal Assistants and Paralegals Who Want to Excel in Their Careers.