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One of the most common questions heard at paralegal networking events is, "What is the most important skill set a paralegal should possess?" The responses seem to vary, including technology, organization, multitasking, etc. While these qualities are essential for any paralegal, the hidden truth is that the most important paralegal skill is effective writing. In the digital age, though, it seems that writing is a neglected skill in the field. The time of pen and paper has been replaced with text messages, blogging and tweeting. Although we live in a technologically advanced society, the ability to write well is still a highly coveted skill in the paralegal field.
While the areas of law are wide and varied—from litigation to estates and trusts, plaintiff/defense, criminal/civil—the art of clear, concise and compelling writing spans across any type of law or practice group.
Whether a student or seasoned paralegal, it is essential to maintain strong writing skills in any position. While paralegal duties may include organizing records, communication with experts and preparing for trial, many of the day-to-day duties of a paralegal involve some element of writing, one of the basic foundations of communication. This duty stretches across the legal field in both litigation and transactional areas. In the world of speed and technology, it is second nature to adopt a more relaxed writing style. In almost every aspect of our lives, email and text messages have replaced cursive writing and formal responses. However, in the legal field, a more formal course of writing is still an expected process.
The initial correspondence from the firm, corporation or government entity to an attorney, client or court is often the first impression the individual has of the law firm or paralegal. Presentation of the document, including physical appearance and content, is key to a good impression. The document must set forth a neat appearance with proper formatting, i.e., spacing, margins, fonts and page numbering. Text needs to be properly organized. A sloppy appearance or poorly worded paper can signal to your supervisors, peers and/or opponents the lack of attention to detail or pride in your work.
The ability to write effectively will assist the legal team in representing the client, thereby gaining you the respect of supervisors and peers resulting in valuable experience in other professional and personal endeavors.
Read the complete article via The Legal Intelligencer