We recently spoke to Bhajan S.S Khalsa, a paralegal who kindly shared what it takes to become a paralegal. Bhajan shared key tips for aspiring paralegals, his path to a paralegal position, and why he chose to pursue a career in the legal industry.
Why did you pursue a career in the legal industry?
Law offers the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and explore many aspects of life. Firstly, I wanted a varied and exciting working life, through my own personal experiences with the legal market, I met and continue to meet interesting clients.
Indeed, one of the best parts of the job is taking instructions and getting to know your clients. Clients can come from different walks of life and often come with complex problems, and it’s up to the legal advisor to help solve those problems. As a result, I’ve found the work interesting and dynamic.
Law does have its challenges, but these challenges help you to grow as a person and even make you better in your profession.
What path you have taken to become a Paralegal?
Whilst studying law at university I wanted to gain working experience in the legal sector. For me, it was necessary to decide how I wanted to practice law, i.e. if I wanted to be a barrister or solicitor. Each has its pros and cons. For example, barristers are self-employed, the route is usually harder, in terms of securing a pupillage.
Conversely, the route to qualification tends to be easier, etc.
With all of that in mind, I secured work experience at QC Law (which specialises in personal injury law) shadowing a senior litigator. I learned about the litigation process, including how causation and quantum are considered and proved.
I also understood how a solicitor receives instructions from clients and then advises them of the best options (e.g. accept a part 36) or explains the stage of their application and the court process. From this experience, I wanted to contrast that with advocacy and see how barristers do their work.
I secured informal experiences at Chambers, however, the most enlightening experience was during marshalling, I sat with Senior District Judge Hickinbottom, witnessing the importance of advocacy first hand, and the application of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPRs) in various fast and multi-track cases.
Whilst marshalling I also sat with Judge Jackson in the Business Property Court, I observed how certain ‘standard directions’ would be used when claimants sue companies that have become insolvent after breaching terms of the contract.
The direction was to stay the proceedings for a period of six months to allow the insolvent company to be restored, as one cannot claim against a non-legal entity (corporate personality). These cases were interesting as I took a predilection to them having done business and law throughout my academic career.
I later secured other influential experiences such as a position at a High street law firm, a commercial internship at Bright Network. After gaining knowledge of the legal market, and finishing my degree I had decided to pursue a career as a solicitor.
As such to work towards that goal I became a paralegal at a high street law. This gave me the chance to experience what it is actually like to practice law.
What skills and strengths do you need to be a good Paralegal?
– Time management
– Communication skills (verbal and written)
– good attention to detail to be able to carefully analyse files and data
– business acumen and an understanding of the clients’ needs
– professionalism when working with colleagues, senior partners, experts, and clients
– general IT skills and knowledge of legal database certifications such as LexisNexis or Westlaw.
What are the pros and cons of being a Paralegal?
Fixed processors for doing tasks
3 Tips you’d give to someone seeking a Paralegal position?
Tip 1 – A Paralegal position gives you the opportunity to practice different areas of the law. So get as much exposure as possible to see which area you like the most.
Tip 2 – Be confident, you can ask colleagues questions. Let them know how you’re feeling.
Tip 3 – be proactive, learn as much as you can and work hard, it does pay off.