Having previously worked as a paralegal in family law, Laura now works in asset management. Find out more about what her job involves
How did you get your job?
At the time of applying for my current role, I worked in private practice and held my paralegal accreditation in family law. Moving to an in-house role in a completely new area was quite a change in direction.
It can be daunting going from an area you specialise in to becoming the newbie. Putting in a lot of hard work, studying, observing, and learning all you can about a new area and company's culture can be challenging, but I have found it extremely rewarding.
What does your role as a paralegal involve?
My role is of a reactive nature and it can be a juggling act whereby I need to keep on top of routine workload, manage team members and attend a variety of meetings across the business - all while reacting to requests and reviews or time-sensitive matters.
Having moved from private practice to working as an accredited paralegal in an in-house legal department my role is varied, as ultimately, the business is your client.
This role involves elements of project management, drafting legal documentation, collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, providing advice, research, analysis, running your own workload, managing team members, as well as assisting legal counsel with their workload.
A typical day involves inbox triage (the preliminary work in assessing a matter), composing a to-do list and prioritising workload and information sharing with colleagues to keep them up to speed on developments across various workstreams.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The people - working with great colleagues who foster collaboration and a supportive working environment is pivotal to an enjoyable work experience.
Having the opportunity and encouragement from colleagues to expand your internal network by working with various levels of stakeholders, plus providing advice on a range of legal topics is also extremely rewarding.
Moreover, reflecting on where you started and where you are now gives a massive sense of achievement and allows you to take stock of how far you have come regarding confidence and technical legal skills.
Additionally, learning is a crucial element - there is always more to learn. I am extremely fortunate that continuous professional development is part of my business culture and something that is actively encouraged.
What are the challenges?
In a fast-paced and ever-evolving environment of regulation and law, implementing new practices, streamlining processes and the use of new technology can often be met with some resistance. Paralegals are generally at the forefront of researching and implementing such changes. Having the ability to influence and persevere is central to overcoming obstacles.
What five qualities are important in a paralegal?
- attention to detail
- organisational skills
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
Since becoming accredited in financial services: asset management, I have continued to further my learning and increase my responsibility both on a workload and people management level. I now manage a small team of paralegals and take on a lot of legal project work, alongside my day-to-day. It's really helped to expand both my transferable and technical skills and I've found developing the skillset of others rewarding.
Looking forward, with the rise in demand for legal project managers, I am interested in furthering my education to complete Project Management and Legal Project Management qualifications with an accredited training provider. I then wish to use my transferable skills to adapt the fundamentals of project management techniques in a legal context. This is an area I feel experienced paralegals could have autonomy and make a real impact.
What advice would you give to aspiring paralegals?
Try to seek out opportunities to work or volunteer within a law firm, in a different department to your intended field, and to have a balanced account of your strengths and weaknesses.