In this article, we interview Annabelle Proepstl, a dispute resolution paralegal at magic circle firm Freshfields. Annabelle kindly shared why she chose to pursue a career in the industry, how she secured her role, and tips for aspiring legal professionals.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in the legal industry?
I always enjoyed language-based classes in high school and writing argumentative essays. Although I studied European law, it took me a few years to discover that I wanted to work in the legal industry.
I really wanted to make sure that I loved the industry I would be working in, and after having completed different work experiences, I noticed that I kept feeling drawn to the law. I enjoy finding solutions to different problems and going into the details of a case study.
Can you detail what path you have taken to become a (dispute) Paralegal?
I first ensured to gain exposure to different types of legal areas. This often meant that I was working as an unpaid intern, but these experiences have been invaluable in terms of understanding which areas of the law interest me.
This has also been helpful when applying for paralegal roles because I was able to demonstrate my interest in disputes through concrete examples.
What are the benefits of working at Freshfields?
Apart from being an internationally recognised firm, Freshfields offers many benefits within the office. These include free snacks, a wonderful cafeteria, great views onto the city, and different cultural events. Every paralegal and associate I have spoken to and worked with has been incredibly friendly and I think the welcoming culture has made it a great pleasure working at the firm.
What skills and strengths do you need to be a good Paralegal?
Attention to detail may seem like a very common skill, but it is crucial when working as a paralegal. This is particularly because paralegals often review and proofread documents. Teamwork is also important.
Paralegals regularly liaise with associates and other paralegals, meaning they need to be open communicators and collaborators. I also think taking initiative can be an important attribute.
Paralegals are often involved in administrative tasks and thinking of different ways to make processes more efficient will be helpful for the entire team.
How did you find your current Paralegal position?
I found this paralegal position through a legal recruitment agency. I regularly researched different roles on LinkedIn and other search engines, and I also contacted different agencies to ask about available roles they may be aware of. One of the recruiters contacted me and informed me about this position.
Could you provide an overview of what the interview process was like?
I first had a short call with the recruitment agency to learn more about the role and outline my expectations. I was then invited to an interview with senior paralegals at the firm. The interview was very conversational and friendly.
I was asked about my motivation for working in law and why I was interested in pursuing this role in particular. I also explained why I was interested in working at the firm. As this is a German-speaking position, I also had a short conversation with one of the paralegals in German to demonstrate my language skills.
What 3 tips would you give to someone seeking a Paralegal position?
1. Broaden your search as much as possible. This means researching roles on different search engines and contacting recruiters. Be open to considering in-house roles as well!
2. Take initiative where you can. Do not be afraid to contact firms or companies by “cold-emailing” them and asking whether a paralegal position might be available. Start-ups are often very open to bringing paralegals on board.
3. Searching for paralegal roles can often be frustrating. But it is really important that you continue your research and not let rejections affect you too strongly!