There are a variety of methods you can use to get your foot in the door. Below are ideas on what you can do.
• Internships are a great way to introduce yourself and showcase your talents to potential employers. Employers love someone who will work for free or little pay in exchange for valuable work experience. It may also lead to full-time work when you finish school or when an opportunity opens up. You will also gain invaluable experience working in a law firm or for an attorney. Always remember to work as if you are being paid top dollar even though you are working for little pay or for free. Some local paralegal programs also have an internship requirement built into the program too. Check with your school to see if they offer any internship opportunities. Contact local attorneys or firms for internship opportunities they have available.
• Temporary work through a staffing agency is also a good way to gain experience, contacts, and resources, as well as develop relationships that provide long-term benefits. Many jobs are still found by word-of-mouth.
• Networking is also great way to meet the practicing paralegals in your area. These paralegals are great mentors and may know of immediate openings which can help guide you while looking for your first job. If you do not know many people in the legal profession yet, talk to friends or family members. Chances are, they may know someone in the legal field and can forward along your resume. Do not underestimate the benefits of job fairs which can provide you with the opportunity to hand out your resume to numerous placement agencies. You can talk to the people at the agencies about how to improve your resume, interviewing techniques, current hiring practices, and current job openings. You can also meet and talk with other people who are looking for jobs or who are currently practicing paralegals.
• Consider taking a receptionist, legal secretary, or file clerk position as your first legal job. It may lead to a promotion down the road and you can still get the experience in the meantime. This is also a way to show an employer your dedication and eagerness to get into the legal field, as well as your ability to be a team player. Do not forget to tell potential employers about any prior work experience in other industries. Regardless of your past position or industry, you learned and developed many professional skills that may supplement your legal education and training which will provide added benefit to your potential legal employer. As you conduct your job search, look beyond the traditional law firm paralegal role. Many positions in business and government involve the interpretation and application of legal principles, as well as the ability to write and perform research. This is where job growth in the paralegal profession is occurring. While these jobs may not be listed as “paralegal” in the want ads, the job functions and responsibilities often require legal knowledge, as well as organizational, analytical, and judgment skills. Today, some form of government regulator or policy affects almost every business. Survey the businesses in your area and target positions likely to benefit from your legal experience and training.