Sample Paralegal Recruitment Research Paper
According to Harper (2010), a paralegal can be defined as an individual who is qualified through his education and training to perform legal obligations in a lawyer’s office or public institution. This paper seeks to outline some of the strategies I am going to use in finding a suitable replacement for this position which I previously held and now have to leave because of a promotion as the Executive Legal Secretary. The major areas of evaluation included for this paper will be: (1) job analysis and job description; (2) replacement plan; (3) selection strategy plan; (4) compensation package; (5) compensation appraisal system; and (6) training development plan
Paralegal Assistants (or simply Paralegals) mostly work for law firms, government agencies, and corporate legal departments. They do a variety of tasks to support the lawyers. They conduct legal research, draft documents, and organize and maintain files (Corinthians Colleges, n. d). Interviewing clients, witnesses, and conduct legal investigations are also part of the job description. The specific tasks vary depending on the size of the office, the type of law the firm practices, and the amount of experience the paralegal has. Even though they gain a great deal of knowledge in the law, they are not authorized to give legal advice (Cabrera, n. d).
I have worked at the ABC Law Firm for eight years now and my promotion has come as a result of the hard work, integrity and the willingness to put the interest of this firm before my own. It is in this regard that the managing partner at ABC requested, to find a suitable replacement for my previous position that of a Paralegal Assistant as I move on to become the Executive Legal Secretary.
There are three major methods that can be utilized in carrying out job analysis. The first method is job oriented. In such as case, the individual undertaking the job analysis focusses on the activities, duties and responsibilities that come as a result of holding a particular position. The second method is worker oriented. The main characteristics of this method is the focus on the personality traits and soft skills necessary for competence in the workplace. The third method is a mixture of the two techniques mentioned above, that is, incorporating both the job activities and responsibilities with character traits and talents of the worker (Carpenter & Ziner, 2007).
The mixed method is the one that is most utilized in this study. In February of 2013, ABC was able to release an updated survey to the public and its members who are included in the association’s mailing list. The instrument was developed using the knowledge and skills rated for the Communications, Ethics, Legal Research, Judgment & analytical Ability, and American Legal System sections of the examination that were included on former surveys. These represent the major subjects documented in the Paralegal examination that is usually certified.
For the specific practice areas, a list of general knowledge and skills based on the examination outlines was developed. The Certifying Board reviewed the survey questions and approved of the content. The results of the survey are utilized by the Certifying Board as part of the critical information needed to keep the certification program in pace with the paralegal career and ensure the program’s ongoing workplace relevance to those seeking to become certified. Respondents used in the survey were told again and again to apply the knowledge and programs of recent paralegal graduates and not that of Certified Paralegals as expected of them. This is because unlike certified paralegals, graduates have inadequate practice and some even completely lack the expertise.
The job analysis study was carried out with the aim to:
- Determine whether the examination of the contents and specifications test what they are purposed and supposed to measure, thereby enhancing necessary changes.
- Make sure NALA has the recent data containing information on the duties and tasks of paralegals. The survey was made up of three sections. There was an open ended questionnaire which required the respondents to fill in their information, skills and competencies in their own words.
1) Demographic information
2) List of over-all skills and facts in the following categories:
• Legal research
• Judgment and analytical ability
• American legal system
3) List of abilities and one’s understanding that is specific to the following practice areas:
• Administrative law
• Business organizations
• Civil litigation
• Criminal law and procedure
• Estate planning and probate
• Family law
• Real Estate
For ratings in the practice area section, there was a section exclusive for those who had worked or had knowledge of specific areas. Hence, those respondents were required to fill in information on the importance and frequency ratings. Since I had posted this vacancy on the firm’s website, I was able to get six interested candidates whom I sent the questionnaires for completion and return. Two of the candidates were new interns at our law firm.The current and prospective paralegals had a week to complete and return the questionnaire forms.
Prentzas (2014) presents the following as some of the duties and characteristics of a paralegal.
- Embark on a variety of administrative, legal and technical responsibilities as defined and employing supervision technique.
- Assume a suitable caseload of issues that primarily relate to community care matters where some are connected to public law and education issues.
- Hold dialogues with clienteles and bystanders on draft statements.
- Go to consultations and summits with clients and get instructions.
- Help with the grounding of case documents and showing up in Court/Trial schedules.
- Match up with clients and other parties involved.
- Show concern for team members as expected by; making it to trial for hearings, creating time for clients and witnesses and also working on legal research.
- Help prospective clients with inquires.
- Observe all significant activities like time recording, accounting and Legal Services Commission requirements
- Give a hand with the promotion and marketing of the firm’s work
- Be present at team meetings, as obligated
- Be available to grace with your presence occasions like seminars and occasional evenings.
- Be active in helping on administration tasks
Eligible candidates must have:
Essentials. This will involve:
- The capability to demonstrate high levels of inventiveness and inspiration
- Noble interpersonal skills that engulf showing maturity and professionalism in all transactions. Capable of showing empathy and sympathy to all clients.
- First class communication skills – being fluent, articulate and eloquent while passing on information both by word of mouth and in writing.
- Legal altruism; feeling obliged to assist defenceless society members without expecting anything in return.
- Efficient team worker; Competent to work commendably in a team.
- Effective at decision making even the hardest ones that requires one to ask for assistance and direction.
- Recognized ability to assume exhaustive research.
- Effective at arrangement and administration skills.
- Capability to generate appropriately prioritized goals and follow them to the latter even under pressure.
- A devotion to offer clients equal chances and opportunities irrespective of their diversities.
Desirables: These are additional qualities to an individual
- Pertinent past experience, mostly from practice.
- Knowledge and skills in community care and education law.
- Indication of concern and devotion to the work areas the firm is involved in
- Exceptional at record keeping techniques
Recruitment and Selection Strategy
Our firm recruits individuals from diverse backgrounds, as long as they are bale to portray a high degree of academic performance, leadership skills and talent. Our company recruits from top from learning institutions that are top rated in the country. The selection of our paralegals is based on a comprehensive process that ensures that all geographical areas are covered. It is also true that most of our paralegals are just fresh from colleges, thus making our teams to be vibrant as we work today the realization of your company’s goals. ABC encourages the admission of entry level graduates whom we help to nurture into some of the best paralegals. Many of our paralegals end up joining business or law schools as well as other studies (Cottrell, 2012).
ABC Law Firm also makes recruitments of various specialists and litigation paralegals. Before we welcome any member aboard, we need to establish that such individuals maintain high academic excellence. Such candidates should also be able to give notice to detail in all they do, showcase high organizational abilities and have superb oral and written communication skills. Our office environment is said to be one of the best since it is very friendly and it encourages interaction between our staff members. We believe that we are an epitome of law services provision. According to Prentzas (2014), all current and prospective paralegals must show a high degree of academic excellence. They must showcase high aptitude in issues of soft skills such as such as communication. They must have undergone our two year training in our firm and agreed to stay with us for a minimum of two years upon completion of the training course. Early summer and late spring of every year is the period of our recruitment exercise.
Upon completion of the questionnaires, I found that a male intern at our firm presented the most striking features for this position. Nonetheless, I had to interview him and the other shortlisted candidates to ascertain their potentiality. Below are the question items that the interviewee had to answer to:
- Which skills are deemed critical for a paralegal?
- What are the tools that you as a paralegal need to carry out the day-to-day activities of the firm?
- Give me an example of one of the tightest deadline, you have ever worked in and what were your delivery results?
- Can you give me a description of the most difficult client you have ever dealt with?
- Which is the most difficult legal decision you have had to make and what decision making process did you use?
- Why should I employ you for this particular job?
The male intern emerged as the best candidate for this job after the interview exercise.
It refers to the reviews and discussions on an employee’s execution of assigned duties and responsibilities. The basic rating forms that have mostly been in use are:
- Mixed scales
- 360 degree feedback
- Behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS)
- Check lists
- Graphic forms
- Behavioral observation scales (BOS
I used the 360 degree feedback in appraising the performance of the candidates. The 360-degree feedback is not meant to be used to measure things like attendance or meeting deadlines with a strict objectivity, job specific or technical skills or an employee’s performance objectives.Doing so will lead to subjectivity. Since I do not have a personal relationship with any of the candidates, my evaluation process will not be impaired by any bias. I had only known the candidates on the professional level. Factors like the length of time during which an employee has known the other employee,he or she is evaluating is of great importance. Accordingly, a time period of six months to three years is the most accurate one (because a person is able to get past first impressions) while a period exceeding five years tends to influence less accuracy (because of generalizations whether favorable or otherwise). On their personal consciousness levels, the appraisers should try as much as humanly possible to balance between fairness and honesty. The reason for this is that a 360 degree feedback is meant to help the individual to plan on specific developmental paths during the time they will serve as paralegals. Giving unbalanced feedback might mess up a person’s career by injuring their self-perception, since the appraisal results are communicated to them. Additionally, information from this feedback will be crucial to the organization in making some administrative decisions relating to hiring, promotions, layoffs and pay rise.
I tried to ensure that areas that need improvement on the part of the candidates were brought out clearly because effective role play is a core area of concern in a 360 degree feedback. The new paralegal assistant at ABC Law Firm turned out to be the male intern who goes by the name Mike.
Compensation Package, Training and Development Plan
As a paralegal, the first and most important compensation for services is through salaries (Prentzas, 2014; Chi, 2007). ABC Law Firm gives attractive salaries for all of its employees, paralegals also included. In ABC, the starting salary for a paralegal is $37,200. The average salary for Mike upon serving us for the initial two years and beyond is $65,311. In addition to that, we will also offer him paid time off compensation. The following are on other types of compensation for Mike that total up to around 32% of a paralegal’s basic salary:
- Education Reimbursement
- Health care
- Sick days
When the above compensation plans are all factored in, the median total compensation for a Mike totals up to around $ 88, 0000.
We offer our paralegals the opportunity to advance in their career, through the various training opportunities. The firm takes it upon itself to locate training programs that add value to the paralegals of the firm. Individuals are chosen based on how exemplary their work and effort has been at the firm since joining it. For some of the experienced paralegals who have stayed with the firm for a number of years, an opportunity to supervise junior paralegals is provided. Therefore, if Mike continues to show this excellence and determination, he will get access to many opportunities that will help him advance in his career. This is the reason why the Managing Partner gave me this opportunity to supervise the recruitment of a paralegal to fill in my position. Paralegals in ABC are also given an opportunity to advance into both administrative and management positions. For those who want to study law and have shown superior efforts, capabilities and loyalty to ABC Law Firm, the firm takes in upon itself to pay for their tuition fee at Harvard Law School or any other that might be of their choice. This gives them an opportunity to pass the bar and advance to law practice.
A paralegal should possess some of the basic abilities that are necessary in all professions. Such qualities include an aptitude in communication skills and a high degree of hard work. Excellent execution of the tasks assigned to him should also be another characteristic of a paralegal. Besides having some elementary skills in law, paralegals must possess good analytical skills. This is because they are required to assist lawyers in research and drafting of the various legal documents. When recruiting a paralegal for a firm, there should be a rigorous process so as to ensure that the right individual is chosen for that position. By doing so, the firm, ensures that it has the right team in place for its operations.
Cabrera, S. (n. d.). Covington & Burling LLP | Careers | New York | Staff | Paralegals. Covington & Burling LLP | Careers | New York | Staff | Paralegals. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://www.cov.com/careers/new_york/staff/paralegals/
Carpenter, J. S., & Ziner, K. (2007). A Process to Manage Recruitment to Multiple Competing Studies. Western Journal of Nursing research, 30(4), 515-526.
Chi, C. (2007). Job Compensable Factors and Factor Weights Derived From Job Analysis Data. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 104(3), 1193.
Corinthians Colleges. (n.d.). What is a Certified Paralegal?. How to Become a Certified Paralegal or Legal Assistant. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://paralegal.everestcollege.edu/certified-paralegal
Cottrell, T. (. (2012). Interviewing efficiencies or interviewing efficiently?. Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, 25(3), 102-106.
Harper, S. (2010). Paralegal. S.l.: Publish America Inc..
Prentzas, G. S. (2014). Careers as a Paralegal and Legal Assistant. New York, NY: Rosen Publishing.