Christmas: time for festive cheer and career reflection

As December comes around once again, another year moves towards a close. It is time for the inevitable drunken office parties, trying to clear your desk before the New Year, and reflecting on the year gone past, with its successful (or not so) cases.

Many paralegals realise that December is a time of endings- and beginnings. Indeed, beginnings and endings are part of the Christmas story. Many paralegals desire more or varied work, roles and responsibilities. Indeed, with the current state of legal recruitment and training, many paralegals have advanced legal qualifications and aspire to be lawyers.

Given this drive and determination of many paralegals, it is never too early to start planning your career. It is never too early to start planning for that advancement, for your next step on the paralegal career ladder- or to making those steps to qualify as a lawyer.

For the ambitious, being a paralegal is intensely rewarding, as currently the paralegal profession offers unrivalled opportunities, variety and challenges. Another advantage of a paralegal career is the opportunity to shape and develop your career the way you, the paralegal, wants. With such opportunity, flexibility, and prospects, though, comes a lot of hard work- away from the case load on your desk.

Amidst the season of goodwill and festive cheer, Christmas carols and mulled wine, take a few moments to pause. Consider where you are as a paralegal, and where you want to be, as a paralegal or in a different legal role. Reflect on where you are in your own set of plans, dreams, aspirations and ambitions. How far, or how close, are you to fulfilling those dreams and plans as winter draws 2013 to a close?

If the answer to the above is that you the paralegal are still far off those dreams and ambitions, then now is the time to take action. Start planning, researching and set things up before that time of festive cheer away from the office. Upon returning in the New Year, start straight away, with determination, not only in tackling a never ending case load and administrative burden, but in getting your career dreams realised, and in working towards that next goal, be it more responsibilities or working in an new company, or a total change of career direction.

It is well worth talking to your company’s HR department about future ambitions and prospects. Getting a career coach can be another worthy idea. If seeking a new job entirely, then getting your CV before specialist legal recruitment consultants (such as Michael Paige or Douglas Scott) is a must, as is researching and applying to other law firms. Such recruitment consultants can also advise in depth those seeking a change of legal career.

 Indeed, with many large firms now having an in house legal team, perhaps working for a different industry in their legal department might be of great interest. Alternatively, those working in that area might prefer to working in a strictly legal atmosphere, and want to start seeking vacancies and opportunities in the strictly legal sector.

CPD, used these days by many leading law firms, can be a valuable tool in advancing a paralegal’s career- if utilised fully. Indeed, the Institute of Paralegals (one of the sector’s regulatory bodies) offers a comprehensive CPD program. Due to the nature of the training and education, CILEX might also be a serious consideration of many a paralegal. All of those, and other career advancing tools, take a great deal of effort, time and focus, though- almost as much as running that paralegal desk.

At this time of year, enjoy the festive season fully, reflect on the past year, with its ups and downs- but consider the challenges to come of the New Year. Ask questions of yourself and your direction, plan your career carefully, and enjoy the opportunities inherent in working in the paralegal sector.

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