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Foundations eChapter 20

Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 426

Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and
Showcasing — Knowledge, Skills, and


Learning Objectives

• Describe job search techniques

• Explore career direction opportunities

• Break down interview preparation

• Develop interview skills

• Review Program proficiencies

• Organize the ePortfolio

• Demonstrate cover letter and resume drafting skills


Section 20.1: Job Search

Section 20.2: Resume Writing

Section 20.3: Cover Letter Writing

Section 20.4: How to Present in an Interview

Section 20.5: Learning Recap

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427 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities


Whether beginning your career as a paralegal, or advancing, reaching the Program academic finish
line and looking ahead to putting your learning into action is a pivot point that is very exciting.
Searching for work, however, can be stressful if you are unprepared, or if you are unsure where to
begin. Concepts such as locating vacancies, drafting cover letters and resumes, showcasing
knowledge, skills, and abilities, and interviewing can be intimidating. By understanding the expec-
tations of the employer and the traditional strategies for locating work in the legal field, you will be
well-positioned to begin or advance your career.

Law firms come in varying sizes, from large practices with hundreds of employees and multiple
locations, to smaller practices with one to two lawyers. In addition to law firms, paralegals also
work for government agencies, pro bono organizations, and for themselves as freelancers. Job
searching has been simplified as an online endeavor, and many organizations can help you locate
prospective employers. Improving your networking skills can help you learn about employment
opportunities more quickly.

Your resume and cover letter are essential tools for helping you locate employment. Resumes and
cover letters should be limited to one page each, and should match one another in font size, type-
face, and paper selection. Writing samples to showcase knowledge, skills, and abilities can also
provide a strategic advantage, when transmitted with the resume and cover letter. Housing sam-
ples in your ePortfolio provides a mechanism for professional presentation, and rapid transmis-
sion in digital format. Once you have submitted your cover letter, resume, and writing samples to
employers, you should prepare for the interview process. By researching organizations in advance,
arriving early, and being honest and approachable during your interview, you will increase your
chances of being hired.

In this Chapter, you will learn valuable tips for searching for employment. You will learn about
private firms, as well as government positions which are available for paralegals. You will discover
where and how to search for employment, as well as how to craft a resume which is well-suited to
those beginning their careers in the field, or seeking professional advancement. You will learn
about cover letters and why they matter, as well as the information they should contain. You will
also explore how best to conduct yourself during, and after an interview.

This Chapter will conclude with a review of the Foundations Program learning, focusing on skills.
Using the Program objectives, learning connections will be identified in conjunction with applying
ethics rules in the legal environment, navigating procedural rules for case management and com-
pliance, conducting electronic legal research using Lexis and Westlaw, constructing legal analysis
based on law interpretation, drafting legal documents, using legal technology, and demonstrating
t5specific skillsets associated with career readiness.

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 428

Section 20.1: Job Search

Types of Employment for Paralegals

Working as a paralegal is challenging, yet extremely rewarding. The impact on the lives of others is
extensive. Of course, all of the education in the world will be of little use if you are unable to find a
way to put your skills, knowledge, and abilities to good
use. As a paralegal, you can find employment in a number
of fields, and for a variety of employment categories. Un- KEY TAKEAWAYS
derstanding the types of employment available can help
you to make the choices which are best for you, both pro-
fessionally and personally.  Paralegals work for employers
in many categories, including
The most common category of employment for parale-  Private law firms ranging in
gals is the private sector law firm. Law firms range from size from solo practitioners, to
large practices with hundreds of employees, to individual small firms, to medium size
attorneys who work alone. Larger law firms tend to have firms, to large firms
higher pay and benefits, but are more rigid in the roles of
their employees. Smaller practices tend to offer more  Government (city, county,
flexibility, and may give you more opportunities to assist state, federal)
with drafting legal documents and meeting with clients. In
addition to law firms, paralegals also work “in-house,”  Non-profit organizations
which means working for in-house counsel, or general  Corporations
counsel, for a company or business. The general counsel
is an attorney whose only client is the business or corpo-  Freelance employment
ration who employs him or her. In-house paralegals are
able to be highly-specialized in their field, in that they always know whose interests they represent,
and can become quite skilled in their specific areas.

Many paralegals work for the government (public sec-
tor), such as for the attorneys for government agencies
or municipalities. In the criminal realm, employment
opportunities exist at the state attorney’s office, the
U.S. attorney’s office, the public defender’s office
(state and federal) and the attorney general’s office
(state and federal). Government employment usually
offers reliable job security and benefits, as well as op-

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429 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
portunities for advancement if your attorney appre-
ciates your work and recommends you for employ-
CAREER CONNECTION ment if he or she is promoted to a new role.

Finally, many non-traditional positions are available
for paralegals which are extremely helpful for those
seeking entry into the workforce. Non-profit or
legal aid services are those which offer low-cost or
In addition to, another
reliable employment resource is no-fee legal services to those in need. This work is
extremely rewarding, and can provide invaluable
work experience. While it is unlikely that you will
become wealthy, monetarily, by working for a non-
This website allows you to search for profit, do not presume that non-profit agencies do
positions by title and zip code, and not have paid positions for paralegals. To the con-
even breaks down positions into trary, many use their funding (via donations, grants,
specialties, such as “litigation etc.) to pay staff members. Not only are you likely
paralegal.” It is a good resource to to enjoy your work, but working for a non-profit
which you can return as your can make an attractive addition to your resume for
career needs change. future employment. You can also work as a free-
lance paralegal, or one who has no defined employ-
er but can assist when lawyers need extra assis-
tance. When applying for work, you should exam-
ine different types of employment to find the best fit for you, and for your career goals. Always
keep ethics in mind, and ensure ethical parameters are adhered to in any career venture.

Locating Employment

Technological advancements, such as the internet and social media, have made searching for em-
ployment simpler than ever before. You can look for paralegal positions by using nationwide job
sites, such as, or you can search the websites of individual employers. Consider re-
viewing social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as companies in need of employees have
begun to use these forums as ways to quickly notify the public of their hiring needs. Don’t forget to
search local newspapers, either online or
in print (if the newspaper does not post
its Help Wanted ads online, but most now

Government jobs can be located using
websites which are specifically created for
government agencies. USA Jobs, for ex-
ample, is a resource which can be used to
locate government positions around the
country. Most local governments also
have websites which will list current
openings, and you can also search via the
websites of your local representatives. Finally, check the National Center for State Courts, at

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 430, and type “Court Web Sites” into the search box to locate web addresses for your
local courts.

“Networking” is a buzzword that
you’re likely to hear when you begin
searching for employment. Network-
ing simply means making acquaint-
ances who can help you in your job
search. You have likely already been
“networking” without even knowing
it, simply by mentioning your interest
in locating a job when you speak with
friends and family. You can be more
deliberate in your networking activi-
ties by contacting local legal associations, attending continuing legal education events, and attend-
ing legal organization conferences. Use technology to assist in locating these networking opportu-
nities in your geographic area. Most open positions are heard about internally before they are post-
ed to the public, meaning that the paralegals and attorneys you meet may have information about
employment possibilities.

Another great tool for networking is the social KEY TERMS
media website LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way Networking
to learn about new people and to connect with
groups which can help you locate employment Networking - a term used to refer to the
opportunities. Having a LinkedIn profile can connections made among people. In this
also assist you as you begin to submit resumes context, it refers to connections made with
to employers, as they can learn more about you
if they look at your profile. Be mindful of that the goal of locating and securing employ-
potential, and ensure your profile is accurate, ment.
comprehensive, and professional.

Proper networking means being proactive, and introducing yourself to others. Rest assured that
networking is a common practice in the legal field, and that it is understandable – and even ex-
pected – that you will be seeking to meet new
people as you begin your search for employ-
ment. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out
there, to become poised to take advantage of
opportunities as they arise.

While preparing your resume and cover letter,
revisit your ePortfolio that houses the work
completed for your five clients. The ePortfo-
lio has been utilized to collect and document
your mastery of the Program outcomes,

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431 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

throughout your academic journey. This work
NOTEABLE & encompasses advanced skills demonstration
in the areas of legal research, and legal writ-
QUOTEABLE ing, for your Foundations client, and diversi-
fied abilities across the key areas of substan-
tive law, for your four Law Block clients.
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the You are encouraged to utilize this tool, in dig-
chance to work hard at work worth doing.” ital format, to showcase professional quality
work for current and prospective employers.
–Theodore Roosevelt Ensure the feedback from your instructors
has been incorporated into the final work
contained in your ePortfolio.

You are afforded many options for organizing
your ePortfolio to maximize the impact when
showcasing your skills, knowledge, and abilities.
You can edit your default page. You also have
the ability to create multiple pages. You con-
trol your ePortfolio settings. Upon completion
of the Program, this ePortfolio will serve as an
invaluable tool, demonstrating not only a com-
prehensive understanding of multiple areas of
law, but also the skillful ability to complete es-
sential paralegal tasks. Legal research proficien-
cy demonstration, on Lexis and Westlaw, should
also be featured in your ePortfolio.

Section 20.2: Resume Writing

Resume Formatting
Your resume is how you advertise
HOT TOPICS yourself to potential employers.
Therefore, you should ensure that it
Researching Employees is both informational and eye-
catching. The average hiring manager
You should not be surprised to hear that can spend as little as 10-20 seconds
your potential employer may look online reading a resume. The information
to learn more about you. If you have you include in your resume will serve
offensive or embarrassing photos on your no purpose if it is not seen. There-
public profiles such as on Facebook or fore, you should take time to ensure
Twitter, it may be prudent to remove that your resume is clear and easy to
them so as not to jeopardize your em- read.
ployment chances.
As a general rule, your resume
should be one page in length, with-

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out being overcrowded. Use font which is be-
tween 10.5 and 12 point in size. Do not use a
smaller font than 10.5 simply to try to fit more
onto the page, because it will be harder to read.
Use a professional font, such as Arial, Helvet-
ica, Tahoma, or Garamond. Never use Comic
Sans. Use one-inch font on each of your mar-
gins. If you must adjust your margins to make
your content fit to one page, adjust at the top
and bottom as opposed to the sides. Use a sin-
gle blank line space between the sections of
your resume, and put your section headings in
bold font to make them easier to see. When
including date ranges in your content, make sure that they are uniform in presentation. For exam-
ple, do not say “December, 2015” followed by “04/2016.” Dates must be uniform in alignment,
and should be aligned along the right margin, if possible.

Your resume is part of your initial impression package, and is not a time to be gimmicky or to
avoid professionalism. Therefore, avoid flashy layouts or changing fonts. Simplicity is a solid ap-
proach. Most word processing programs offer a variety of templates for resumes. Review them and
perhaps try putting your information into a few different templates and printing them out to see
which you like the best. As a general rule, do not use colored fonts or colored line breaks in your
resume (and do not choose templates which include them), as resumes are often scanned and the
colors may block your content. There are resources in the Virtual Career Center Lab to assist with
resume drafting.

Resume Language

Your resume itself should be broken into sections. It
should begin with your contact information at the top of
KEY TAKEAWAYS the resume, including your name, address, phone num-
ber, and email address. Make sure that all of this infor-
mation is correct, so that you do not lose a potential in-
terview if someone is unable to reach you. If you do not
Resume Formatting Tips: have a “professional” email address, or one which does
 Single page not contain a nickname or does not sound professional,
consider creating a new email address for professional
 10.5-12 point font purposes. Also, you should ensure that your voicemail
 Broken into sections with has a professional outgoing greeting, so that employers
one blank line in between will feel comfortable leaving you a message. If you use a
ringback tone, be sure to be mindful of your music se-
 1-inch margins on all sides
lection callers hear when dialing your phone number.
 Professional font
 Same font throughout After your contact information begins the body of your
resume. Most resumes start with a career objective, or an
 Section headings bolded objective statement. This is a simple statement which
lays out the type of employment you are seeking. It

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433 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

should be tailored to the employer and to the position you are seeking. A sample career objective
would be, “Motivated and dedicated recent graduate seeking entry level paralegal position with
Bentley Law Firm, LLC.” This statement is especially important for those who are just entering the
paralegal field and who may not have much, if any, legal experience in their background. This state-
ment is a simple way for a hiring manager to know immediately what your position of interest is, in
case he or she misplaces your cover letter or separates it from your resume, and the firm has multi-
ple positions for which hiring is underway.

The next section is your professional experience. In
this section, you list your employers, in reverse chron-
ological order, meaning beginning with most recent
and working your way backwards in time. You do not
have to list every job that you have ever had. If you
are new to the legal field, your recent employers may
not have been related to the law, or to the position
that you are seeking. List employers, job title, and
range of employment. Under each employer, you
should list a quick summary of your responsibilities.

Next, you should list your skill areas. Your skill areas create what is known as a “functional re-
sume” format. While resumes used to only focus upon employment (the “reverse chronological”
format), resumes may now include a listing of relevant skills which may be useful in your requested
position. While your job history shows what you have done in the past, it is difficult to tailor it to
specific positions when seeking employ-
ment. Listing your skills allows you to focus
on the attributes which matter to your em- KEY TAKEAWAYS
ployer. You can learn which skills matter
most by reading the job announcement. Or,
if you hear about the position from word-of When thinking about skills, some areas for
-mouth and no announcement is available, reflection include:
you can list those skills which are generally
relevant to the position you are seeking. For
example, if you are familiar with Microsoft  Prioritization
Office, or with Westlaw and Lexis (which
you now are), you can list these skills on  Forward thinking
your resume. You can also list any additional  Writing
languages in which you are fluent.
 Communication

The next (and often final) section is your  Organization
education. Education is also listed in reverse  Technology
chronological format. You should list de-
grees or certificates earned. You do not have  Flexibility
to list your GPA, unless you graduated very  Teamwork
high in your class. List any educational
awards earned. If you are a recent graduate  Professionalism
with little to no work experience, you may

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 434

wish to switch your education and employment sec-
tions in your resume, in order to bring your educa-
tion to a higher point of consideration.

Finally, the end of your resume may include 1-2
pieces of personal information, if you have space.
This can be titled “Personal Interests,” for example,
and can include hobbies such as camping or cook-
ing. This information is not required in resumes,
and should never take the place of crucial infor-
mation relevant to your employment. However, it is
a simple way to make your resume stand out. Keep
the topics professional, and the language short and
to the point. Remember, this is a resume, not an

Section 20.3: Cover Letter Writing

Cover Letter Formatting

Your resume should include a one-page cover letter. Your cover letter is a quick way to introduce
yourself to your prospective employer, to help ensure that your resume is directed to the right per-
son, and that it is read.

As with your resume, there are templates available to help you get started. To the extent possible,
you should use a template which matches that which was used in your resume. This means using
the same font and the same layout. As with your resume, as a general rule, you should use one-inch
margins, non-colored text, 10.5-12 point font, and a professional font choice. Most letters should
be 12 point font, but you may wish to make it slightly smaller if you did so for your resume.

An important point is to ensure that your
cover letter is addressed to the correct per-
son. If you are able to contact the company ETHICS CHECK
or firm and ask for information for your
cover letter, this may be helpful in the deter-
mination. If you are unsure, you are usually A number of websites offer sample cover letters. It
safe addressing the cover letter to human may be tempting to “borrow” the language from
resources. Always make sure that you have these samples, rather than to write something
the correct address listed. Even if you sub- original. However, you should remember that
mit your materials electronically, the person hiring managers receive applications frequently. If
reading your letter is sure to notice if you your letter sounds familiar because its content has
have listed an incorrect address or other been used by others, your application materials
identifying information. Just as with your are unlikely to be memorable.
resume, make sure that your personal con-
tact information appears correctly on your
cover letter.

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435 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
Cover Letter Content

While your resume is a central component of your
CAREER CONNECTION job search, you should not underestimate the im-
portance of your cover letter. The content of your
cover letter is highly likely to be read, and it will lay
the groundwork for how your resume will be con-
sidered. Your cover letter should vary for each em-
ployer, to account for the recipient, and the posi-
As you continue through your career, tion, to enhance the appeal to the reader.
you need to ensure that you are
updating your resume. Your cover letter should begin by stating why you
are submitting it, i.e., that you wish to apply for a
When you first begin as a paralegal, position. You should state how you learned about
you may not have many relevant the opening, or, if simply applying to an employer
experiences to include on your without knowing whether any positions are availa-
resume. This will change quickly as ble, how you learned about the firm. Next, you
you work. Therefore, if you later need should summarize why you are qualified for the
or want to seek new employment, job. While you want to include enough information
you need to update your resume to demonstrate your application should be consid-
so as to include new skills. ered, your cover letter should not be a regurgitation
of your resume. Instead, focus on the skills and
qualifications which are most relevant to the posi-
tion. One suggestion is to use the words which
were used in the job description and apply them to your own skills. For example, if the job listing
said that the firm was looking for someone who is well-organized, you should describe yourself
using this same terminology.

Next, you should include some in- HOT TOPICS
formation about the firm which
demonstrates that you are sincerely
interested in working there. For ex- Lying on your resume is a risky business.
ample, you can say, “I read about
Bentley Law, LLC winning its suit Even high-level job applicants have been
against Company Cooper, and it caught lying on their resume, and suffered
sounded as if the implications of this the consequences. This story from Business
case will be far-reaching. I would Insider details 9 people who have been pub-
like to be a member of a firm that licly shamed for lying on their resumes.
litigates cases such as these.” Next,
state that you have enclosed your
resume, and conclude by saying that
you would appreciate the opportunity to discuss the position and how you can be an asset to the

Never include salary or benefit demands in your cover letter. Do not disparage prior employers.
Also, you should not apologize for any inadequacies. Consider what you would want to hear if you
were the employer. Preemptively answer any questions that you may have. For example, if you are

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 436

applying to an employer which is located outside of your area, then you could address this fact by
stating, “While I currently reside in Town X, I plan to move to Town Y in the next month.” You
want your letter to be personal and unique, yet professional and informative. Do not try to fit ex-
traneous information into your cover letter: Sometimes less is more.

Unlike your resume, the cover letter should
be written in complete sentences and appear
WHAT WOULD in a standard letter format (with a greeting,

YOU DO? full paragraphs, and a closing). End your let-
ter with “sincerely” or “cordially” followed
by a comma, and then space for your signa-

ture with your name printed underneath. Un-
You have been told about a position with
a great firm. Your friend, who is also a der your name, you should write “Enclosure”
paralegal, shared that she had her heart to signify that you have enclosed an addition-
set on this opportunity, and asked you to al document (your resume). Your cover letter
should also be dated across the top. There
look over her resume and cover letter. are resources in the Virtual Career Center
You very much want to apply for the job.
Lab to assist with cover letter drafting.

� Would you apply too? Cover Letter and Resume
� Would you tell your friend?
Before you submit your resume and cover
� Would you look over your friend’s letter, it is imperative to double- and triple-
cover letter and resume and provide check it for grammatical errors. Read each
constructive criticism, although you word and use the spellchecking feature on
may be competing for the same job? your word processing software. It is com-
mon to use cover letters and resumes as tem-
plates when you are applying to more than
one employer. Always make sure that you
have changed the identifying information in your document, so that you do not submit a cover
letter to firm A which includes information pertinent to firm B. While even a great cover letter and
resume cannot guarantee that you will be hired, you can be certain that grammatical errors will
contribute to your not being hired. Therefore, you
should never skip over this step. PRACTICE ON POINT

Next, it is important to determine whether you will
submit your cover letter and resume electronically,
or in hard format. If transmitting electronically, be As an applicant who is new to the field, you
sure to include your ePortfolio link. While hard may wish to move your education higher
copies are more traditional and sometimes seen as up on your resume. While it is traditional to
more professional, it is common now for many em- list work experience higher than education,
ployers to only receive applications online. If this is it may be prudent to list education first if
the case, you will need to save your documents in your work experience is unrelated to the
order to prepare them for submission. First, you paralegal field.
should save your documents as .pdf files. By doing
so, there is no metadata attached to them. Metadata

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437 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
is “hidden” information such as edits which can be seen using
different types of software. When you save your document as
a .pdf, this will also ensure that the version you see on the
screen will be the version which is received. Therefore, you do
not have to worry that your document will be opened by a dif-
ferent version of word processing software and that your lay-
out will be changed, for example. When you save your docu-
ments as .pdf
files, give
sional names, such as your last name and the word
“resume.” Of course, you need to make sure that
you are attaching the correct document to any
online submission form, so make certain that you
can tell your documents apart for each employer.
Saving your document as a .pdf will
help to make your metadata
If you are submitting your documents in hard inaccessible. Metadata is the
copy, the documents will need to be printed. Con- background information from your
sider including your legal writing and legal re-
search proficiencies to showcase knowledge, skills, document which can be transmitted
and abilities. electronically. You are likely to follow
this same process when submitting
documents electronically to opposing
Resumes, cover letters, and samples should be
printed onto paper which is slightly heavier than counsel, or via electronic filing
traditional copy paper, which is usually 20 lb. systems.
weight. A common weight for resume paper is 24
lbs. Choose paper which is white or light ivory.
Use a printer with plenty of ink which will print
your documents clearly. If your resume paper has a
KEY TAKEAWAYS watermark, make sure that it has been positioned

correctly in the printer. Finally, get a large envelope
which will hold your resume, cover letter, and sam-

 Check your resume and cover letter ples without folding them. Choose an envelope
for errors. which is the same color as your resume and cover
letter. Take the envelope to the post office, to en-
 Check them again. sure that you have attached sufficient postage.
 Ensure that you are using the correct
contact information for you and for Section 20.4: How to
the employer.
Present in an Interview
 Use heavier-weight paper.
Preparing for the Interview
 Use a large-sized envelope.

 If sending electronically, save your Interviewing can be a stressful process, especially
resume and cover letter as .pdf files, when you are very interested in a position. There are
and give them appropriate file resources in the Virtual Career Center Lab to assist
names. with different facets of interviewing. It is important

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 438

to note that some of the most challenging as-
pects of the interview process take place before
you walk in the door. Here are some suggestions
to help you prepare for interviews, both generally
and for specific employers.

PARALEGAL First, it is important to learn as much as possible

PERSPECTIVE about the employer. Some of this research will
likely be done when drafting your resume and
cover letter. However, the interview itself re-
quires more in-depth preparation. For example,
Questions for the Interviewer
you should acquaint yourself with the types of
• How many paralegals do you have cases the firm or attorney handles, and you
employed here? should learn about the person with whom you
• What are some of the tasks that you are interviewing, if you know in advance. For
have your paralegals perform? example, what are his or her passions or causes,
where did he or she go to law school, what has
• What does your review process
encompass? he or she published, where did he or she work
prior to the current employer? Draft some ques-
• Do you offer any continuing tions or conversation topics for your interviewer
education? based upon the information you have learned
about the attorney and/or the practice.

It is also important to make note of your appearance. Remember that most employers will host
clients in their offices, and they need to know that you know how to dress the part. In other
words, it is important to demonstrate you are ca-
pable of making a professional impression with
the way you present yourself. Wear a dark suit
with a simple shirt. Ties should be simple, yet
professional. If you cannot afford new clothing,
search local resale shops. Some organizations
even provide business clothing free of charge to
those seeking work. Be careful of heavy colognes
or perfumes. These suggestions are not about
stifling your personality. Instead, they demon-
strate your knowledge that law offices are there
to offer a service to the public. Therefore, ap-
pearing professional and not offensive in appear-
ance (or smell) is simply a smart practice.

What to Bring to the Interview

More than likely, the person who is interviewing you will have a copy of your resume, and he or
she will have reviewed it in advance. Still, you should always have a copy of your resume on hand
for the interview. Bring a briefcase or a professional folder for holding your materials, as well as a
pen and pad of paper for taking down any notes or other information.

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439 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
In addition to your resume, you should bring your
educational materials, such as your paralegal cer-
tificate and/or proof of attendance at CLE, or
continuing legal education sessions. It is also ad- KEY TAKEAWAYS
visable to bring letters of recommendation, per-
formance reviews at other relevant places of em-
ployment, writing samples, a list of references, The interview is the gateway to career
and your school transcript if you wish to focus on opportunities. As you prepare to interview,
your grades. Having these materials on-hand and keep these tips in mind:
easily accessible will ensure that you can provide  Prepare, prepare, prepare . . . . do your
them upon request, and will demonstrate both research about the firm, and the person
that you prepared for the interview, and that you you will be interviewing with (if known)
are taking this opportunity seriously.
 Think about all facets of your
Making Your Best Impression presentation . . . dress professionally

All of your education and preparation will be for  Be positive in your tone, and approach .
naught if you do not make a good impression . . do not be overbearing, or over
during the interview. Fortunately, you are usually assertive
well-served by simply being yourself, and being  Ask questions. . . . the interview is a two
genuine about your job interests and questions -way street
about the employer. There are, however, some
common suggestions which should be followed  Provide samples . . . demonstrate
to put your best foot forward. The first is to ar- knowledge, skills, and abilities
rive early. Never be late for an interview unless it  Follow-up . . . send a thank you after the
is truly unavoidable and out of your control. Un- interview
der those circumstances, you should notify the
office as soon as possible to let them know that
you are running late.

The second is to answer questions honestly. While it might be tempting to lie, you never know
when follow-up questions asking for details can get you into trouble. If you are asked about
knowledge or experience that you do not have, you can honestly state that you do not have experi-
ence in that area, but you are interested in learning more, or that you are willing to educate yourself
if necessary. Unless you were dishonest
on your resume, the interviewer likely
knows (or should know) the parameters
of your experience.

You should also ask the interviewer ques-
tions. This usually takes place at the end
of the interview. While you can, of
course, prepare questions in advance (and
you should always do so in case you have
trouble coming up with something on the
spot), it is also a good idea to ask the in-
terviewer questions about things which

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 440

are mentioned in the interview. For example, if
the employer tells you about specific cases or
work completed by the firm, you can ask for in- NOTEABLE &
formation about that work. You can also ask po-
sition-related questions, such as those about the QUOTEABLE
type of work performed by paralegals in their of-
fice, the relationship between attorneys and para- “There's only one interview technique that
legals (meaning, are paralegals assigned to one matters... Do your homework so you can listen
attorney or do they work for multiple attorneys), to the answers and react to them and ask
and advancement opportunities. Don’t be afraid follow-ups. Do your homework, prepare. “
to ask specific questions, such as those about
compensation and benefits, if you have them. At
the same time, however, you should be prepared .—Jim Lehrer
to answer questions about your salary require-
ments. If this is your first paralegal position, you
are likely best served simply by honestly stating that this will be your first paralegal role and there-
fore have no requirements which are based upon your experience, and that you would expect to
receive the standard starting pay for that employer’s paralegals.

Finally, after the interview, it is customary to send
a follow-up letter to your interviewer. This is a
simple thank you letter which is both a profession-
al courtesy, and an opportunity to keep your name
fresh in the interviewer’s mind. In order to send a
thank you letter, of course, you need to know the
name of the person with whom you interviewed.
Therefore, remember to take down that person’s
information upon the conclusion of your inter-
view, if you do not know it in advance.

Include any supplemental materials which may
have been requested during the interview, such as NOTEABLE &
additional samples of your written work, or addi-
tional references. It is also advisable to reference QUOTEABLE
any particular points of discussion from the inter-
view, such as by saying, “I appreciated hearing
about . . . .” Finally, even if you are not hired for “I can count on one hand the number of
a position, never speak badly about the employer. people who wrote me a thank you letter after
You never know what additional opportunities having an interview, and I gave almost all of
may come from your original interview, and the them a job.”
employer may contact you about a position in the .—Kate Reardon

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441 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Section 20.5: Learning Recap

Program Outcomes
The learning, throughout the Program, prepared students to successfully work as paralegals in a
variety of fields. Paralegals are integral members of the legal team. Knowledge and skills in key
legal areas are the foundation for competent performance of paralegal job functions. Paralegals
conduct interviews, investigate case details, participate in discovery processes, draft pleadings,
briefs, and motions, lay out legal arguments, analyze cases, document case details, and perform le-
gal research. A building block learning approach was taken, with focus on legal terminology,
sources of law, legal research techniques, and legal writing strategies applied to core paralegal func-
tions and fourteen specific substantive law areas. Skill sets were developed in the core areas of law
office technology and operations, and administrative support for all stages of the legal process.
Throughout the Program, learning focus was on knowledge building, skill building, and ability
building in these core function areas. The Program, through a skill-building and developmental
approach that emphasized application-based, incremental learning, prepared participants to transi-
tion from the classroom to the legal community with a comprehensive knowledge base for work as
paralegals within legal and ethical parame-

Let’s retrace some key Program learning.
First, and of tremendous importance, we
examined the importance of ethics in the
legal environment. As a paralegal, it is your
job to assist attorneys, and the primary
work of attorneys is in serving the needs of
their clients. Attorneys, and therefore para-
legals, must do so within ethical parame-
ters. Although the licensing entity licenses
attorneys, attorneys are ultimately responsi-
ble for paralegal compliance. For that reason, among others, it is extremely important to attorneys
that paralegals demonstrate an unwavering commitment to ethics mandates. That includes, but is
not limited to, not engaging in the unlicensed practice of law, not violating privilege, and ensuring
diligence, competence, and zealous representation of clients in the work completed on behalf of

Next, emphasis was placed on the importance of understanding how to navigate the procedural
rules for case management and compliance. This means knowing the sources of procedural infor-
mation for each type of matter that you will handle, and knowing where to go to locate those rules.

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 442
Understanding a legal topic will be of little use
KEY TAKEAWAYS if you are unable to implement the applicable
procedural rules which dictate the terms of
practice in that area. This leads to one of the
most important processes in terms of research:
Learning Outcomes:
using Lexis and Westlaw. These online data-
 Apply ethics rules in the legal environment bases are the primary sources for legal authori-
ty. However, there are tradeoffs with these
 Navigate procedural rules for case services, such as their cost. Therefore, you
management and compliance
must also know how to use other resources as
 Conduct electronic legal research using necessary, such as law libraries and hard copy
Lexis and Westlaw sources.
 Construct legal analysis based on law
interpretation Next, you must understand how to implement
the information which is located during your
 Draft legal documents research process. This means constructing le-

 Using legal technology gal analysis based upon law interpretation.
You must be able to understand a legal issue,
 Explore key components of fourteen locate relevant sources, synthesize those
substantive areas of law
sources into a rule, apply that rule to your legal
 Demonstrate fundamental and substantive question, and provide a conclusion based up-
specific skillsets associated with career on what you found. Your legal analysis is likely
readiness to be used in legal documents, which you must
how to draft and interpret. Properly drafting legal documents
requires using appropriate legal terminology and putting your
information into a format which is easy to read and understand.
These areas were emphasized throughout the Program learning.

Finally, your work will require an understanding of key compo-
nents of substantive areas of law. You must, for example, know
what torts are, and in which types of cases you are most likely
to see tort concepts arise. As a paralegal, you are likely to be
involved with legal matters which cover multiple fields of law; therefore, having a basic under-
standing of a variety of fields is essential. This is part of your final objective: demonstrating funda-
mental and substantive specific skillsets which are associated with career readiness. No one can, or


The learning objectives provide the main scope of Program learning. Specifics were explored
through chapter learning objectives to enable demonstration of proficiencies in key areas
connected to paralegal career success.

As you prepare for employment, consider your strengths and weaknesses as to each of these
areas, and, in looking ahead, ascertain opportunities to continue to build and enhance skills.

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443 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

is expected to, understand everything about all areas of the law. However, with these objectives,
and a knowledge of core skills and key facets of the main substantive areas of law, you have the
foundation necessary to excel in your career as a paralegal.

Skills Learning Recap

In exploring the paralegal profession,
you learned about core paralegal HOT TOPICS
roles, including understanding and
properly utilizing legal terminology,
conducting legal research using the
only two real time legal research data- Case Screening Software:
bases (Lexis, and Westlaw), perform- Case screening software often works in
ing legal analysis, and drafting legal tandem with case management. These sys-
documents. You learned about legal tems allow you to rule out any conflicts,
sources, such as the Constitution, while establishing client information for
federal and state statutes, and case simpler review and analysis in the future.
law, as well as the structure of the You are likely to encounter case screening
legal system of the United States. and management software during your
You also explored the components of employment, as these systems become
the Virtual Clients File and ePortfo- more and more common in the legal field.
lio, which are invaluable assets for
showcasing your skills.

In the introduction to terminology and legal outcomes, you learned the importance and definition
of common legal terms. You learned the definition of substantive law, or various causes of action,
as well as procedural law, or the how-to of seeking relief under different causes of action. You also
learned the differences between legal remedies, or “dollars and cents” remedies, and equitable rem-
edies, which can be awarded in con-
junction with legal remedies, or on
NOTEABLE & their own. You were also provided
with information about ethics and
QUOTEABLE the legal profession, specifically as
they apply to paralegals. This in-
cludes an examination of what does
“Conflict is good in a negotiation process... it's the clash of
and does not constitute unlicensed
two ideas, which then, all being well, produces a third idea.” practice, as well as conflicts of inter-
est and due diligence.
- Luke Roberts
Conflicts of interests served as its
own topic of education, owing to its
“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything
importance. You learned that attor-
personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able neys are required to provide their
to see opportunities more objectively.“ clients with a standard level of dedi-
cation and loyalty, and how conflicts
- Brian Koslow can prevent an attorney from doing
so. You learned about the im-

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 444
portance of client confidentiality, and how to screen cases to best prepare for interviews. Case
screening software is an important tool now used in the case inception process, allowing paralegals
to search for information to determine whether a conflict exists in advance of client interviews.
You also learned about the types of questions which should be asked of clients during interviews,
and how to ask open-ended questions to receive information in a client’s own words.

Technology has changed the face of the practice
of law. Technologies are used for tasks such as
calendaring and billing, and case management and
document assembly. These technologies must be
used ethically, and with an understanding that the
information presented in these formats is relied
upon for accuracy. One of the most important
components of practice which is now managed
electronically is the tracking of time, which must
be done with precision to ensure accuracy.

As a case begins, one standard practice is to engage in settlement negotiations. Attempting to settle
matters out of court can save clients from undue stress and expense. Settlement negotiations begin
during the “pre-filing” phase, or before a legal matter has been initiated with the courts. You
learned about the strategies which must be considered when seeking pre-filing settlements, as well
as how to draft an effective demand letter to increase the likelihood of obtaining a favorable out-
come for the client.

Our discussion of court structure began with information which may have sounded familiar from
your high school civics classes. The American system of government is divided into three branch-
es, with courts falling under the judicial branch. The judicial branch interprets laws as written by
the legislative branch. Within the judicial system are state and federal courts, each of which break
down into different court levels. You learned the difference between venue, or a court’s location,
and authority, or their power to hear cases. You also learned about the differing rules of procedure
for each court.

You next examined the crucial skills of legal writing and analysis. You learned about the sources of
legal authority, and how to incorporate the information you find into a readable format, using the
IRAC method (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion).
We discussed various legal documents, such as
office memoranda, which is an example of pre-
dictive writing, or writing which predicts an
outcome. You developed an understanding of
the use of persuasive writing as well, which is
writing used in documents submitted to the
court, such as trial briefs.

Part of legal writing is the use of proper author-
ities and citing. Authority can be primary, or
secondary, depending upon whether it is a first-

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445 Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
hand source of the law, or a source which is summariz-
ing and interpreting the law. Sources can also be manda-
tory or persuasive, depending upon the jurisdiction in KEY TAKEAWAYS
which they are written and used. You learned how to
cite materials, which is a uniform way of referencing
authorities in your legal writing. Legal research provides the basis for
legal analysis. The findings of your
Given how frequently modern-day legal research is research will need to be synthesized
completed online, you may question the ongoing im- and applied to your facts in order to
portance of law libraries. However, law libraries play a reach a conclusion.
vital role in the legal research process, ensuring accuracy Your conclusion, along with your
and providing a no-cost means by which to search for supporting analysis, will most often be
information. You learned about common library re- drafted into a document known as an
sources, as well as how to Shepardize using hard copies office memorandum.
of sources. You also learned how to implement strate-
gies to make your library research efficient and effective.

Electronic legal research is a skill which you must master,
given its central role in the life of a paralegal. You learned
about sources of legal research, and how to approach and
implement the research tools available in Westlaw and
Lexis. You learned how to evaluate your search results, so
as to know whether your research process is complete.
You also learned how to use KeyCite and Shepard’s, to
ensure the continuing accuracy of your results.

Our in-depth discussion of legal citations began with an analysis of Bluebook and ALWD, the pri-
mary citation systems. We broke down cita-
tions into their components, and covered the
most commonly-used citations in litigation WHAT WOULD
and related fields. We also examined how to
place citations into legal documents in order YOU DO?
to conform with the document guidelines for
most courts.
Your new employer does not use Westlaw
We then switched gears to discuss what hap- or Lexis. Instead, he prefers hard-copy
pens at the beginning stages of a lawsuit. We sources. He may be open to exploring the
covered how cases are filed, and the types of possibility of securing electronic legal re-
allegations most commonly made in com- search access.
plaints. We reviewed legal and equitable rem-
edies, and how to request forms of relief. What would you share with him about the
From there, we covered the follow-up inter- decision?
view process.
Where would you place the greatest em-
Filing a lawsuit requires understanding differ- phasis?
ent causes of action and how they must be

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 446

supported. To determine which causes of action should be
delineated in a complaint requires understanding litigation
strategies and elements. We reviewed how to draft a com-
plaint, as well as e-filing processes, as e-filing is becoming
the standard method for submitting documents at both the
federal and state levels.

Once a complaint has been filed, a number of motions are
commonly filed, often requiring response. We reviewed re-
sponsive and non-responsive pleadings and motions, focus-
ing on procedural requirements and applicable
KEY TERMS rules in both federal and state court, and in civil
and criminal proceedings. We covered the ethical
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure – Rules parameters of the drafting and filing processes, as
which apply to civil matters heard in well as the role of the paralegal.
federal court
Our next major topic was discovery. We reviewed
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure – the key components of the discovery process, in-
Rules which apply to criminal matters cluding the applicable procedural rules, ethical pa-
heard in federal court rameters, and the role of the paralegal. Important-
ly, we discussed how to apply the rules of evidence
Federal Rules of Evidence – Evidence to the discovery process, to ensure that all require-
rules which apply to federal court cases ments are being followed.

Non-party discovery is one facet of the discovery
stage of litigation. Non-party discovery is the process in which information is gathered from per-
sons or businesses who are not parties to a litigation. We discussed the types of information which
can and should be sought from non-parties, as
well as how to obtain that information, both with
and without the assistance of the court. We also
examined the ethical parameters for seeking non-
party discovery, and the role of the paralegal in
seeking discovery from non-parties.

Our next skills section focused on ADR, or Alter-
native Dispute Resolution. ADR includes many
options, including negotiation, mediation, arbitra-
tion, and minitrials. ADR is often discussed as
part of pre-trial motions, and can be ordered as
part of pre-trial orders intended to resolve issues before trial. Pre-trial motions and ADR are alter-
native methods for disposing of cases before trial, requiring a paralegal to understand the calendar-
ing process and how to draft pre-trial motions.

Trial briefs, or memoranda, require both the research and drafting skills of the paralegal. We de-
fined the trial brief and discussed its role in the trial process. We examined trial brief components,

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as well as how best to incorporate facts and
law into briefs. Each of these tasks is crucial
in the examination of the paralegal’s role in
researching, drafting, and constructing trial ETHICS CHECK
briefs in accordance with court rules.
Clients deserve honest answers about the potential
We concluded our skills learning by examin- success or failure of their legal claims. Providing
ing post-judgment motions and appeals. We such information requires understanding the
discussed the different types of post- intricacies of legal concepts, and engaging in
judgment motions, and how each is used to thorough, reliable research practices. Paralegals
obtain a successful outcome for the client. can contribute in the form of research and dialogue
We broke down the appellate process, dif- with the supervising attorney, but cannot provide
ferentiating it from trial-level practice. We clients with legal advice.
reviewed the differences between interlocu-
tory and final appeals, and explored varying
bases for appeals, to ensure that a client has
grounds for relief. We also discussed the role of the paralegal in drafting post-judgment motions,
and appeals.


As you consider all that you have learned in Foundations, you should be thinking about making
the transition from student to employee. Finding a job as a paralegal, or advancing as a result of
your studies, will be an excellent reward for all of your hard work, and for all of the time that you
spent acquainting yourself with the legal subjects and skills which will provide the foundation for
your career. Locating a job begins with an understanding of the types of roles and employment
opportunities which are available. Many paralegals choose to work at law firms, which come in all
sizes and specializations, including general practices which cover a variety of subjects. The public
sector also offers employment opportunities, as do pro bono organizations, and in-house legal de-
partments. You have many choices. Make the best choice for you, based on your areas of interest,
in conjunction with opportunities in the legal profession. Take some time to reflect on your learn-
ing to ascertain what sparked your interest, and where you would like to channel your career focus.

Your first impression to a potential employer will likely be your resume, cover letter, and written
work showcasing knowledge, skills, and abilities. While preparing to look for work, take a second
look at your resume and cover letter to ensure it is aligned with the career direction you intend to
pursue. Your cover letter will give you an opportunity to introduce yourself, and will help to secure
an interview. Make adjustments, as needed, to provide a competitive edge when seeking employ-
ment. Revisit your ePortfolio, to make sure your work is organized professionally, and incorpo-
rates the feedback provided from your instructors.

Dressing professionally and arriving early will get your interview started on the right foot, and ask-
ing professional questions and giving honest responses will serve you well. You should also pre-
pare yourself for the interview by researching the firm to which you are applying, and the person
with whom you will interview, if you know that information. Finally, you should always send a fol-

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Chapter 20: Reflecting, Connecting, and Showcasing - Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 448

low-up letter to express your appreciation for being considered for the position. Even if you do
not get the job, you should always be professional and never speak negatively about the firm, as
they may have additional openings in the future.

In this Chapter, we discussed multiple aspects of the job search process. We analyzed the types of
employment opportunities available for paralegals, as well as how to locate jobs both online and
via networking. We reviewed specific information for creating resumes and cover letters, including
formatting, contents, and mailing instructions. We discussed metadata, including the importance
of saving your materials as .pdf files to avoid the inclusion of metadata. We focused on the inter-
view process, and addressed helpful information to ensure that you give your best impression,
both during, and after the interview.

As the Foundations portion of the Program concludes, this Chapter recapped the main learning
outcomes, including applying ethics rules in the legal environment, navigating procedural rules for
case management and compliance, conducting electronic legal research using Lexis and Westlaw,
constructing legal analysis based on law interpretation, drafting legal documents, using legal tech-
nology, and demonstrating specific skillsets associated with career readiness. We wrapped up with
the main takeaways from the skills chapters, in which you learned about the specific tasks you will
be expected to perform as a paralegal, giving you a solid base from which to begin your career.

© 2017 UEducate

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