, , , , , , , , , ,

Much of the thinking done in formal education emphasizes the skills of analysis–teaching students how to understand claims, follow or create a logical argument, figure out the answer, eliminate the incorrect paths and focus on the correct one.

However, there is another kind of thinking, one that focuses on exploring ideas, generating possibilities, looking for many right answers rather than just one.

Both of these kinds of thinking are vital to a successful working life, yet the latter one tends to be ignored until after college. We might differentiate these two kinds of thinking like this:

Critical Thinking Creative Thinking
analytic generative
convergent divergent
vertical lateral
probability possibility
judgment suspended judgment
focused diffuse
objective subjective
answer an answer
left brain right brain
verbal visual
linear associative
reasoning richness, novelty
yes but yes and

In an activity like problem solving, both kinds of thinking are important to us. First, we must analyze the problem; then we must generate possible solutions; next we must choose and implement the best solution; and finally, we must evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

As you can see, this process reveals an alternation between the two kinds of thinking, critical and creative. In practice, both kinds of thinking operate together much of the time and are not really independent of each other.

As a paralegal I have:

Paralegal Work Skills


Paralegal work skills can be developed with the proper training and experience, but a good foundation of the fundamental skills needed to be a successful paralegal can help you to excel in the field. To assess the skills required for being a paralegal you can review the paralegal duties to gain some insight into what skills are necessary for each type of law. Each type of law will help you to become better at certain skills.

For instance, experienced probate law paralegals will likely be able to draft a simple will with their eyes closed. Real estate paralegals will be able to review commercial real estate due diligence items more quickly and efficiently than a nurse paralegal. Although a nurse paralegal will be able to read and analyze medical reports as though it were second nature. So all types of paralegals will become experts on certain types of paralegal work that is common in their arena of law.

Most paralegal programs offer coursework specifically tailored to your chosen area of law, so that you will be most fully prepared when embarking on your own paralegal career path.

Here is a list of the main skills that will be needed to be a successful paralegal, regardless of the type of law under which you choose to work:


Excellent Writing Skills
Paralegal work includes a lot of writing. And not just any type of writing, paralegal work includes legal writing, drafting of documents, outlining and summarizing legal research, indexing and properly citing resources. Excellent writing skills are essential as a paralegal. Successful paralegals are expected to write with correct grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. In addition to the basics of writing well, the paralegals who are able to write persuasively and concisely will be highly valued in the legal environment. Earning your paralegal certificate at a training program will help you improve your writing abilities and an entry level job as a paralegal will give you a lot more practice so that you will become confident in your writing skills.

Attention to Detail
Attention to detail can be critical when dealing with the legal process. Every ‘t’ must be crossed and every ‘i’ must be dotted. Legal contracts must be drafted clearly and citations must be recorded precisely.

Legal Research
Legal research will be a large part of your paralegal career. The ability to efficiently find, read, comprehend, analyze, and cite resources pertinent to the case that you are working on is crucial to your career. Aside from spending time in law libraries, more and more legal research is being conducted online, through LexisNexis and/or Westlaw; so your online legal research skills will need to be top notch, as a lot of online legal websites charge by time increments for being used.

Computer Skills
A lot of your paralegal work will be at a computer, and everything from researching online to drafting contracts will require computer skills. The more comfortable you are with a computer and working with different computer programs, including word processing, spreadsheets, databases, internet, and email programs, the better equipped you will be for computer work.

Communication Skills
Paralegal work involves interacting with a lot of different people, including attorneys, clients, judges, legal secretaries, experts, witnesses, and others involved in the judicial process. It is imperative that you know how to communicate clearly. Communication includes speaking, writing, email, faxes, and all other types of correspondence.

Organizational Skills
A paralegal is expected to have great organizational skills. The judicial process includes deadline after deadline and a paralegal must be able to correctly calendar events and make sure everything is prepared prior to deadlines. If deadlines are missed, then there can be dire consequences resulting in a lost case or unfortunate event.

Critical Thinking Skills
A paralegal does a lot of the same tasks that a lawyer must do, therefore, he or she must have a good measure of critical thinking skills. Just as a lawyer must, a paralegal must analyze data and case details. He or she must view everything with a critical eye. This skill set will assist in interviewing clients, conducting legal research, and the overall understanding of complex legal issues.

The more experience and training you gain as a paralegal, then the better your skills will become in each of these noted areas. If you are considering paralegal work as a career, then you might want to assess your skills, as they pertain to those outlined above, before you begin a certificate program.