Due to the widespread interest of the paralegal profession, competition within the past several years has skyrocketed. Although this industry is expected to continue its positive growth for the next decade, the number of paralegal graduates is also on the increase. Therefore, it’s becoming essential to take extra steps in order to remain highly competitive. While there are many ways in which you can accomplish this goal, perhaps one of the most effective ways to stand out among a crowded stack of resumes is to become a certified paralegal.
Unlike other professions, you don’t actually need to become certified in order to be employed as a paralegal. However, earning this voluntary designation not only clearly demonstrates your competency within your field, but showcases your professionalism. There are several national certification organizations that offer a Certified Paralegal and/or Certified Legal Assistant designations, as explained on this official site for paralegal education. Perhaps the most recognized and well-respected is the National Association of Legal Assistants, which is also the oldest certifying body within the paralegal industry.
As with many certification examinations, the CP/CLA examination is separated into several parts. Each part is designed to measure your competency within a specific topic/scope of knowledge. Within this article, we’re going to explore one of the most important – Legal Research.
When you’re employed as a paralegal, you’ll be charged with the task of performing deep-level legal research. This is one of the most important parts of your job as the information gathered throughout your research is immensely helpful when it comes to assisting clients within their case. Throughout this portion of the examination, you’ll be required to answer questions pertaining to the following topics:
No one case is like another. While there may be overlapping similarities, the details are generally specific for that client/case. Because of this, one method of research used in the past may not be applicable for a current task. Therefore, you must be able to identify research problems and take effective step-by-step applications to gain the information the case requires.
Although you’re not a lawyer, you must be well-versed when it comes to the various rules of citations. The use of this knowledge will vary based upon the industry you’re employed in (as well as the scope of practice of your employer). However, holding a solid understanding of these rules is essential to properly operate as a paralegal within your industry.