How to: get a job as a paralegal

I recently got asked about how to gain paralegal work after completing the LPC.

Easy answer: Paralegal work can be obtained simply by applying for the job.

Paralegal work can be offered in the form of “with the possibility of a training contract” but the not necessarily the case.

Some firms don’t like employing LPC graduates because they know they won’t stick around and/or want a training contract. These are mainly firms that don’t employ a high number of paralegals, and like to have them in specialised areas and therefore invest a lot of time training them up, therefore you may find that many paralegal vacancies are marked as not for LPC graduates.

Other firms constantly employ paralegals and their staff made up of mostly LPC graduates. These tend to be firms with a high concentration of paralegals/case handlers to save money – PI, Insurance litigation, residential conveyancing. From my experience and friends who work in these in firms, the work is repetitive, no one stays in the job long and new people are recruited every month and they are driven by targets BUT it has the advantage of being a great starting place to get experience.

Tips for landing the job:

  • Every job is different – know what your potential employer wants to get out of employing someone for the role and show how you can do it.
  • Don’t treat the job as a way of getting a training contract if it isn’t advertised as a “Stepping Stone”. You must want the job itself – recruiters pick up on these things.
  • Don’t be arrogant about having completed the LPC. They want you to fit in with an existing team and if that existing team are people who are paralegals who are completing ILEX etc an arrogant I-am-too-smart-for-doing-this-job individual will not make the cut. One colleague in my old firm got fired for being too big for her boots and rubbing the rest of the staff the wrong way.
  • Focus on your skills not just your academic ability. Although my academics help me understand everything that is going on (and that is now just taking for granted) what makes me stand out from the crowd is how I handle situations. Interview questions will be skill based and be based on hypothetical-situations. Only some firms test your legal knowledge of what you remember from the LPC.
  • Remember there are just as many applicants for these positions as training contracts and in some cases multiple interviews. Have something special – just because it is a paralegal position does not mean it is not competitive.