Paralegal employee reviewing document

8 Tips for Landing Your Next Paralegal Job Placement

Do you enjoy helping others? Paralegals help folks through difficult life experiences while enjoying a stable career with a good salary. The demand for paralegal recruiting is growing every year, and finding the right paralegal job placement can make all the difference in the world when you are looking for career fulfillment.

What Does a Paralegal Do?

Paralegals and legal assistants work for various organizations, including law firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. These companies and organizations often specialize in particular areas of the law: criminal, corporate, tax, family, real estate, and immigration, to name a few.

Paralegals support licensed attorneys and other employees with court casework prep work, managing cases and meeting with clients, researching and investigating, preparing legal documents, and interacting with witnesses and court personnel. They are often the unofficial office managers, working with printers, copiers, legal software, accounting systems, electronic databases, and voice and video recordings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals and legal assistants are fast-growing careers, with an expected growth rate of 14 percent from 2021 to 2031, or about 352,800 job openings annually. The median pay for a paralegal in 2021 is $27.03 per hour or $56,230 annually.

Paralegal employees collaborating on a project

How to Land Your Next Paralegal Position

Any well-paying career worth doing will require grit, learning, and prep work. Becoming a paralegal is no exception; everyone would do it if it were. Try these tips to get you started on your journey to becoming a paralegal.

  • 1. Get the Right Experience

    Getting any legal experience you can is essential to landing a job as a paralegal. Companies and organizations want to know they can trust you to learn the job and stick around. They need to know that if they hire you and put hours into training you, you aren’t going to decide you hate this type of work and quit suddenly, wasting their hours training you and leaving them back at square one in the hiring process.

    Legal job experience proves to them that you have the tenacity to stick around, the willingness and competence to do this kind of work, and perhaps fewer hours required to train you. The more you can minimize their fear of losing money and time in teaching you, the more likely they will hire you.

    The easiest ways to get the right experience are to volunteer, get an internship, work part-time, or get an entry-level position. These jobs will help you learn new skills, understand the legal jargon, and connect with others in the paralegal field.

    Be willing to do the grunt work by answering phones, sorting mail, greeting clients, organizing paperwork, making copies, and making coffee. The experience you gain working in a law office is invaluable to moving your way up the ladder. Don’t be afraid to volunteer to take on more complex work, as that’s when you learn the most.


    A fantastic way to gain experience is by volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). These folks advocate for abused or neglected children in court proceedings. CASA, sometimes called guardian ad litem (GAL), is responsible for making recommendations to the court for the child's best interest. It’s a great way to gain experience in the legal system and can be very rewarding in helping children in need.

    Part-time & Entry-Level Positions

    Don’t be afraid to apply for an internship or a part-time position. If a job posting asks for two years of relevant work experience and you don’t technically have two years of experience, don’t let that stop you from applying. The worst they can say is no.

    In today's job market, and with the industry growing so quickly, employers often have difficulty filling all their open positions. You have a shot if you demonstrate that you can learn the job and have excellent attention to detail. That said, job posts requiring more than five years of experience are looking for someone who can hit the ground running with little to no training.

    Look for jobs like “legal secretary” or “legal assistant” as entry-level positions.

  • 2. Join a Paralegal Association

    Networking has always been the best way to find employment, especially in the legal field. Paralegal associations like the Kansas City Paralegal Association (KPA) allow you to meet and network with other professionals, attend conferences, continue your education, form friendships, and find jobs.

    Ideally, you’ll want to get involved by working on a committee within a paralegal organization. This role allows you to demonstrate your organizational skills and get to know other professionals in the law field. Recruiters will approach veteran paralegals in these committees to see who they know that might be suited for job opportunities in this or that particular area of law. You can even put your committee work on your resume.

  • 3. Find a Mentor

    A mentor is someone advanced in their professional career who can teach you skills, guide your career and choices, and help you avoid big mistakes.

    Think about who might potentially be a good mentor for you. They could be at your law firm, organization, or a member of your paralegal association. Find an experienced professional who inspires you and ask them to be your mentor.

    It may be intimidating to ask for mentorship but experienced individuals usually love sharing their knowledge and expertise. Tell them why you look up to them, and ask them if they’d be willing to guide you through your career and teach you some of their skills.

  • 4. Building Your Resume & Portfolio
    Building A Resume

    The first part of an application is an excellent resume. A paralegal's resume should be free of any grammar or formatting issues. Get a couple of friends you know who are good at editing or marketing to look it over for accuracy and to put you in the best light. Then proofread it again yourself.

    Paralegals often handle important documents that need to be absolutely correct, so when you hand over your resume, and it’s the first thing they read about you, they need assurance that you can produce reliable, error-free work.

    Create a Quality Portfolio

    Make both a printed and an electronic version of your portfolio. Use free document hosting sites like Google Drive for your electronic portfolio and upload as much as possible on LinkedIn.

    If you completed any paralegal education program courses, review your assignments and see if anything is worth editing to put in your portfolio. Writing samples can include internal legal memorandums, a case brief, and pleadings (including a complaint and answer) to showcase your skills to potential employers.

  • 5. Applying For Jobs

    Writing good cover letters is one of the worst parts of job hunting, but don’t settle for a generic copy-and-paste of your standard “To Whom It May Concern” cover letter. Part of your job will probably be researching, so try to find the name of the hiring recruiter/manager.

    Customize your cover letter for the specific job so they know you are genuinely interested in their position. Some sentences about how your experiences and skillset will transfer from cover letter to cover letter, but showing effort in writing original cover letters can communicate your sincere interest in the position.

    Customize your resume to the position. You may need to have several different resumes for different types of positions that you can have handy to customize for each kind of job. You may even need to change which writing samples you include in a portfolio, depending on the position you are applying for.

    You may find it helpful to keep a spreadsheet of all the jobs you have applied for and where you are in the hiring process. Make notes of which jobs you need to follow up on. If you go through a phone interview, send a thank you note the next day to stay at the top of their mind. The same goes for in-person interviews. Follow-up thank you notes show you are interested in the position and good at following up with communication—an important skill to demonstrate.

    Always ask about the timeline for their hiring process so you know when or how often to follow up with their hiring manager.

  • 6. Advance Your Skills with Certifications

    Certifications help prove to hiring managers that you are both determined and capable of working in this field and are less likely to be a drain on company resources. They also help you stand out from the competition of other applicants when applying for a job. Two major national organizations that approve certifications for paralegals are the National Federation of Paralegal Associations INC (NFPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

    If you pass NFPA’s Paralegal CORE Competency Exam (PCCE), you can use the CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP) designation. You can earn your Certified Paralegal (CP) designation by NALA by earning your associate’s degree from a paralegal program and passing the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) exam. There are also certifications for particular areas of law, such as real estate.

  • 7. Prepare for the Interview

    Consider some of the questions and answers you might have in an interview. Examples of questions and interview prompts might include:

    • 1. What made you decide to pursue a career as a paralegal?
    • 2. Describe some methods or tools you use during your day as a paralegal.
    • 3. How did you contribute to improved efficiency in previous roles?
    • 4. Describe your legal experience up to this point.
    • 5. Have you ever gone above and beyond for a case?

    There are too many possible questions to have answers for each, but you can have a general idea of your answer for the most common 20 questions or so.

    You’ll also want to put yourself in the right mindset. Don’t doubt yourself. There will be learning you’ll have to do, just as with any new job, but you’ve learned so much already. Go in with the confidence that you can definitely do this job. A confident mindset and demonstrating that you want the position are two critical things that shine through in an interview.

  • 8. Elicit the Help of a Recruiting Firm

    Finding the right job can seem daunting. You want a fulfilling position you qualify for that also meets your salary, benefits, and location needs, and finding that can be frustrating, time-consuming, and overwhelming.

    Using a recruiting firm can help make the process easier. A recruiting firm gets to know you beyond just your resume since they’ll also look at your skills, preferences, and needs to help you find a good match with a position or company. Recruiting companies have a lot of professional connections and even have access to non-advertised jobs.

Apply with Spencer Reed today to start your road to a successful career.