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What defines a remarkable paralegal; one who stays a step ahead of the attorney she’s working next to and the one who has a genius mind, capable of quoting dates and circumstances from every case he or she’s ever been involved with? We asked A. Harrison Barnes, an attorney, career coach and founder of for his thoughts. “A genius mind and one who stays a step ahead? You’ve already defined the two most important qualities a firm likes to have in its team of paralegals”, says Barnes. There are a few other qualities that every paralegal should possess, though. Together, they define the paralegal who will always find an incredible job that offers great benefits and an impressive salary. Keep reading and if you’re a paralegal looking for a perfect job opportunity, you might have just discovered something other paralegals may not know or emphasize in their own job searches.

  • “Staying current with the ever changing legal landscape is crucial”, says the founder. “Not only that, but great paralegals will enroll in a couple of continuing education courses annually so that she’s aware of not only her role in the firm, but also the latest trends for the firm as a whole”. Barnes recommends the National Association of Legal Assistants and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. as excellent places to begin.
  • A remarkable paralegal has very definitive ethical boundaries that are never violated and at no time is the delicate trust between attorney and paralegal ever jeopardized. “Paralegals have a bit more leeway in terms of his or her conduct in that they are not obligated to acknowledge the state bar’s guidelines; regardless, a paralegal’s lapse of judgment can affect the attorneys she works for and the firm as a whole”, says Barnes.
  • Those paralegals who can show compassion while also not compromising the efforts of the legal team are always in big demand. “It’s a fine line, but a good paralegal knows that balance can be struck and that’s exactly what his goal should be”, says A. Harrison Barnes.
  • Finally, a good attitude and the ability to think outside the box are two good qualities that any employee should possess. While “thinking outside the box” sounds like a catchphrase, there is merit in it. Those who broaden their horizons are the ones who are going to find the right solutions. Remaining in the same narrow parameters only allows you to grow stale and you can lose your worth with the firm you’re working for.

So you see, it really is a matter of taking pride in a job well done, remaining aware – and then acting on – the changes in the American justice system and creating your role in the firm you work for that lets others know you’re the one who has the solution or the way to find one and then institute it. Come to think of it, that’s actually good advice for any employee – whether he’s in the construction business or the legal field.

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