Paralegal – to Specialize or Not to Specialize?

On the job market, which changes quickly, the question of specialization arises, in the field of law among others, and especially for the paralegal profession. Is this position more easily accessible by being specialized?

Training in legal techniques required to become a paralegal normally provides all the tools necessary to practise this profession.

A paralegal must therefore master family law, administrative law, civil law, criminal and penal law, commercial and corporate law and labour law. He must also have knowledge of civil procedures, jurisprudence and legislation, accounting in trust as well as management of a law firm or notary’s office. It is also noted that a paralegal must above all be organized, rigorous and attentive to detail. He must also have strong skills in oral and written communication. Independent and resourceful, he likes to work in a team, can demonstrate diplomacy and takes the initiative.

The importance of bilingualism

“Paralegals are mainly recruited by large firms and large companies where commercial law is mainly done,” explains Danielle Montpetit, founding president of the Groupe Montpetit, one of the largest legal recruitment agencies in Quebec. The businesswomen, with 35 years of experience, therefore asserts that specialization in a specific field as a paralegal is not essential, unless a career in law is envisaged.

“On the other hand, the most sought after skill sought to be a paralegal is bilingualism, both written and oral,” Ms. Montpetit says. Although these criteria are different in Ontario, where French is less present, or even in Quebec City, where English is just beginning to be more important, in Montreal speaking and writing in both official languages is a “must” in the legal domain.

Having personal skills

Mrs. Montpetit says that having interpersonal skills is also very important, in addition to studies. “We are looking for paralegals who are honest, have integrity, are positive and who want to invest in their work and learn,” she says. “Young people who come to see us are increasingly well educated, and generally loyal to their employer, but it is essential to make sure that the right people are put in the right teams.”

The paralegal must also be able to maintain professional secrecy, manage stress and handle multiple tasks at the same time. Proficiency in office and legal software is also essential.

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