Global Advisory Board Chair Ari Kaplan, a legal industry analyst and principal of Ari Kaplan Advisors, moderated a conversation for the ACEDS community about how paralegals can elevate their roles with board members: Joy Murao, Founder and CEO of Practice Aligned Resources, Susan Gogley, Legal Counsel for Commercial, Trade & Information Governance at Novelis Corporation, and Julie Brown, Director of Practice Technology at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease.
The panelists suggested several strategies that paralegals can use to gain a competitive advantage in their careers, including:
- Becoming savvy project managers.
- Learning PowerBI if your role requires data analysis. Brown recommended that paralegals visit https://powerbi.microsoft.com to learn more about building their skills and consider registering for a free all-day workshop at https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/diad.
- Understanding Excel, which one panelist described as “a critical element of paralegal success.”
- Knowing how to assemble and disassemble PDF files.
- Being familiar with redaction options, continuous active learning, and emerging litigation technology.
- Partnering with technology providers.
- Learning how to use generative AI more quickly and thoroughly than others in the firm.
The program also focused on ways that legal teams can create new opportunities for paralegals by offering additional responsibilities, providing professional development, and establishing valuable mentoring. “Giving someone a seat at the table is productive, but asking for and incorporating their feedback can be transformative,” said Gogley. Freedom to help develop and implement strategic initiatives is also important for empowerment and retention.
As the role of the paralegal becomes more prominent, “Legal operations is an emerging path for talented paralegals,” advised Murao. To continue to advance their careers, “Paralegals should develop and master executive presence,” said Brown.
As the legal industry evolves, “Don’t underestimate the power of where you are now by focusing too much on the future,” noted Murao. “Don’t be afraid to ask Why,” added Brown. And, “Convey curiosity, positivity, and a sense of humor to stand out,” said Gogley.
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