A paralegal certificate combined with your personality traits and other skills can lead you to a rewarding and challenging career path if you are open to looking at alternative paralegal career options. If you asked me 20 years ago in my first year as a Litigation Paralegal, or even later in my career as a paralegal manager, I would not have envisioned ending up being an entrepreneur in the business of training paralegals. I assumed I would have remained in a paralegal role in a law firm for my entire career. Until I asked myself one day what it was that I liked most about being a paralegal manager. It wasn’t the recruiting, the performance reviews, dealing with HR issues or trying to teach attorneys how to better utilize paralegals. It was the training of the new paralegals that I enjoyed the most.
I am always interested to learn what leads one to become a paralegal, and intrigued when I meet former paralegals who have turned their paralegal skills into a career that is outside the box of what someone would expect to do with a paralegal certificate. It is expected that a paralegal certificate leads to a paralegal position in a law firm, but what if there was an alternative paralegal career option that gave you an even more rewarding career path given your personality and other skills?
Your paralegal career path might not have the “paralegal” title but could use the transferrable skills from your paralegal education and experience to include rewarding careers such as:
- Legal Staffing Recruiter
- Professional Development and Training Manager
- Pro Bono Program Coordinator
- Project Manager for legal support vendor
- Legislative Affairs Director for county government agency
- Business Development/Sales for legal support vendor
- Professional Blogger/Marketer to the legal field
- Library Research Assistant
- Litigation Support Analyst
- Executive Assistant at a venture capital company
- Foreclosure Specialist
- Business Owner of litigation support training programs
- Contracts Administrator
- Clerk or Administrator in the court system
- Investigator or Process Server
All of these job titles are from former paralegals who I have personally met. The list of alternative paralegal career options could be unlimited. Do you enjoy networking and sales conversations? Then maybe a sales position for a legal vendor would be a better fit than managing document review projects as a litigation paralegal in a law firm. Do you enjoy the operations and financial side of managing projects and have an undergraduate degree in business management? Then maybe you would be better suited for a VP of Operations or an Office Administrator at a small company that would allow you to combine your education with your paralegal skills. Do you love to do the legal research and writing portion of your assignments in your paralegal certificate program? Then a job in library would probably get you more research assignments than being a paralegal at a large law firm that already has dozens of associates already doing the research assignments.
I would urge recent paralegal graduates who are having a difficult time finding their first paralegal position to think outside the box and find out if there are alternative paralegal career paths that would utilize the skills you learned in your paralegal certificate program.
Do you have an interesting and unique position that uses paralegal skills, but not with the paralegal title? I’d love to hear from you. Post your comments to share your career ideas for others who might be looking outside the box.