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How to become a Paralegal with no experience

Written by: Ethan Cumming
Published on: 27 May 2019

How to become a paralegal

  • For recent or soon-to-be graduates of the LPC or a similar legal education qualification with no real-world work experience in law, it can prove challenging to secure a first job as a Paralegal. Competition for Paralegal jobs is already fierce, and when you come up against competitors who already have experience working within a law firm, you may feel your chances of success to be slim.

    However, it is certainly possible to land yourself a Paralegal role without the work experience that some of your contemporaries may have. With this in mind, we have compiled 8 hints and tips to show you how to become a Paralegal with no experience.

  • Apply for entry level paralegal jobs

    When searching for Paralegal jobs, ensure the roles to which you apply are entry level positions that do not require previous law firm experience. For roles that require experience, entry level applicants will not be considered so it’s not worth your time to apply.

  • Apply for paralegal jobs in practice areas related to your studies

    It’s wise to apply for Paralegal jobs in practice areas that directly relate to your studies. While you have no work experience, the presence of relevant practice areas on your CV will show recruiters and hiring managers that you have applicable knowledge and a verifiable interest in the sector.

    If you are applying for roles in sectors in which you have no educational experience, it will be harder to convince recruiters or interviewers of your capability to carry out the job at hand. In these scenarios, make sure to research the practice area thoroughly so you can demonstrate real interest and passion.

  • Tailor your paralegal CV to each role

    This one may seem obvious, but its importance cannot be overstated. For your best chance at getting an interview invite, make sure your CV is geared specifically towards each Paralegal role you apply to.

    For example, if applying for a Commercial Paralegal role within an in-house team, you need to highlight your education and achievements that pertain to Corporate and Commercial law. Recruiters tend to spend very little time on each CV they see, so by making sure that yours ticks the appropriate boxes puts you in better standing for progressing to the interview stage.

  • Consider alternative practice areas and job titles within legal

    While your heart may be set on a career within Property Litigation, be open to Paralegal job opportunities in broader Property or Litigation disciplines. These more comprehensive practice areas will include an element of Property Litigation that can be called upon later in your career as you close in on your chosen niche.

    Likewise, if your Paralegal job hunt is at a standstill, set your sights on some of the less competitive support roles in law firms. It’s commonplace for Administrators, Receptionists and Legal Secretaries to be internally promoted to Paralegals once they have their foot in the door and prove themselves in these positions.

  • Consider temporary and contract paralegal roles

    It’s worth spending some time applying for temporary or contract Paralegal roles alongside your search for permanent employment. Firms often hire inexperienced graduates for short-term Document Review work, for example, which can be an excellent way to get your name and face known amongst the people who could be pivotal in your pursuit of a permanent Paralegal job.

    Not only are temporary and contract roles an effective way of getting your foot in the door – they’re also currently experiencing a surge in demand and salary growth.

  • Grow your legal network

    Ideally, you would start building your professional network long before graduating. However, it’s never too late. Become a member of a local or national Paralegal association and volunteer to work on one of their committees to build your reputation and grow a network of likeminded professionals who may end up referring you for a job. LinkedIn is also an effective tool for building your network and reaching out to potential employers so make sure your profile is up to date.

  • Take advantage of your university's careers services

    The careers service at your university or college will still be on hand to provide advice beyond your graduation date. Utilise their service and the connections they have in the local community to boost your chances of finding a suitable entry level Paralegal job.

  • Become a member of the Institute of Paralegals

    We recommend that any prospective Paralegals without work experience consider becoming a member of the Institute of Paralegals (IoP), the leading authority on the development and standing of Paralegals. IoP membership will demonstrate to potential employers and clients that you are serious and committed in your efforts to become a professional Paralegal.

    The Experiential Route offered by the IoP is a robust scheme that enables you to receive recognition as a professional Paralegal practitioner. It provides a time-effective solution for Paralegal professionals, practitioners and consultants without qualifications to become IoP members.

    You can stay up to date with essential information and news by subscribing to the Institute’s free monthly e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe to The Paralegal.

  • Paralegal Jobs on TotallyLegal

    We hope that this article about how to get a paralegal role with no experience has inspired you to embark on a rewarding new opportunity. Ready to apply? You can browse the latest Paralegal jobs today on TotallyLegal, refining your search by location, practice area, salary band and more to find the roles best suited to you.