RX for Your First Paralegal Job
from your "job doc" - this article may be found at www.lamission.edu/law/jobs/rx

To get your first paralegal job you need to have a "prescription for success" or if you will, your own RX - it is not painless, but it is well worth it.

(networking) As the saying goes, it is not what you know, it is WHO you know. To get jump started in your paralegal job search, increase your "sphere of influence" - hook up or join your local paralegal association, join "linkedin.como", check out aafpe.org, craigslist, and the like. (FN-1)

(books) - "Life transforming ideas have always come to me through books." Oliver Wendall Holmes. In the internet age, do not forsake reading books, and there are great ones to help you find your first paralegal job - check out Chere Estrin and Andrea Wagner. (FN-2)

(resume) - "A great resume doesn't just tell them what you have done but makes the same assertion that all good ads do: If you buy this product, you will get these specific, direct benefits. It presents you in the best light. It convinces the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career." (http://www.rockportinstitute.com/resumes.html). Purdue University with its "OWL" will help you improve your "objective" statement. (FN-3)

(interviews) - you need to practice answering the "25 most difficult" interview questions. practice makes perfect, and you need to work out your answers "in advance", and not just "guess at an answer spontaneously at the time of the interview. (FN-4)

(check out jobs) - of course you need to find job listings - try the new "simply hired" (FN-5)

(video) - body language can "kill you" - "Your body language may give you away! "A significant amount of communication occurs through body language. Though we can't see our own, everyone else does. If you're saying one thing and thinking another, your body language may well give you away." (http://www.gerriking.com/quotes.php) (FN-6)

(assessments) - "Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination. " - F. Dodson
make sure you know "what paralegals do" - when you interview for specific paralegal jobs. also assess yourself to see what are your interests, and waht are your strengths. take some interest and skill surveys. (FN-7)

(mentoring) - from the "Incredibles 2004" Syndrome: You took away my future. I'm simply returning the favor. Oh, don't worry. I'll be a good mentor: supportive, encouraging. [Syndrome glares at Mr. Incredible] - get a good mentor. also look into "job shadowing" - (FN-8)

(search for career center) - ""Through the fruits of my labor and the invaluable help I received from the great people at the Alumni Career Center, I am a renewed professional and better person with emerging abilities, aspirations and improved insights." (http://www.uiaa.org/careers/about_quotes.html) - find a good career center. I got my first two law jobs after graduating from Loyola Law School from their excellent "career center".(FN-9)

(internships) - "My internship has been an excellent opportunity to experience how the business world works, outside of the classroom. A few of the important things I have learned during my internship include how to effectively work within a group and the importance of good written and verbal communication skills." (quote) - internships are invaluable, and they help you to get "hands on experience" - this solves the age old "catch 22" -
one may encounter a Catch-22 where one cannot get a job without work experience, but one cannot gain experience without a job. (FN-10)

(portfolios) - why is it that artists bring a "portfolio" of their work on job interviews, but paralegals do not. create a great portfolio of your impressive work, docs, legal docs, pleadings you created in your great paralegal studies program. this can be very impressive. it shows your craft.
"This point of being a mature artist (is) where realism replaces fantasy, where hopes never diminish, where the love of art is more passionate than ever. And yet that which we love has brought us a lot of suffering, because the life of an artist is often uncompromising at times. It’s brought us a lot of pain, a lot of angst. And yet no matter what it’s brought, the love of your craft will overpower it all. (Because when) you see life, you see dance. You see feeling. We change the meaning of the words of our vocabulary with age." - Ibriham Farrah (FN - 11)

(continuing legal education) - most states require that paralegals continue their legal education. do the great Chere Estrin workshops. it also helps with networking. (FN-12)

(improve your skills) - if you do not know MS Office like your "backyard" - then by all means improve those skills, including word, excel, powerpoint, and access. these office skills are highly rewarded even in the law office. (FN-13)

Well, that is your RX, now go out and DO IT! happy job hunting, keep your "head high" - and remember Illegitimi Non Carborundum


1. Networking - lapa.org, linkedin.com, http://lapa.legalstaff.com/, aafpe.org, paralegalgateway.com, craigslist.com

2. Books - Andrea Wagner, "How To Land Your First Paralegal Job" - Chere Estrin -
Chere Estrin - "The Successful Paralegal Job Search Guide" and "Little Known Facts about Paralegals"

3. Resume - writing an objective statement - Purdue University - and sample resume - sample paralegal resume -

4. Interview - 25 most difficult questions and also how to answer interview questions

5. Check out listing of jobs - simply hired (type in "paralegal" and "your zip code" - examples for (91342 - our College zip code), or Los Angeles - also check our Paralegal Program Job Links

6. Video - "Is your body betraying you in your job interviews" - body language is essential - have a friend take a video of you responding to mock interview questions, and carefully review your body language, and work to improve and enhance for your next interview.

7. Assessments - Interest and Focus - CISS® (Campbell™ Interest and Skill Survey) - also Career Voyages -

8. Mentoring - contact our online tutors and job shadowing - see "how to guide"

9.Search for a  Career Center

10. Internships -see materials at Palomar.Edu (great site) - also Van Nuys Self Help Legal Access Center - Roberta Stovitz

11. Portfolios - prepare legal documents, letters, etc.

12. Continuing Legal Education - Chere Estrin Paralegal Super workshops

13. Improve your skills with MS Word Excel Powerpoint and Access

updated: 3-15-06 at 9:02 am
Prof J. - the "job doc"