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Career Talk articles provided by Robert Half Legal
2012 Legal Hiring and Salary Trends - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. November 2011
Despite a still-recovering economy, hiring has picked up at both law firms and corporate legal departments, according to research conducted for the 2012 Robert Half Legal Salary Guide. Opportunities are expanding for professionals in many key roles – from experienced lawyers to legal secretaries. In addition, employers in the legal field are increasing their use of project professionals to gain greater flexibility in managing fluctuating caseloads and time-intensive e-discovery initiatives.
What Your Interviewer is Really Thinking - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. October 2011
Job seekers spend a lot of time preparing for interviews and thinking about what they’ll say. But they may not give much thought to what’s going through the hiring manager’s mind during an interview. Still, wouldn’t it be great if you could get inside an interviewer’s head? Here are five things hiring managers may be thinking, along with advice on how to react:
Basics Still Matter in Job Search - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. September 2011
In a market where job seekers continue to outnumber available positions, legal professionals know it can take more than solid credentials to get hired. But many may wonder what exactly that “more” is. Although high-tech strategies have their place, landing a position in today’s still-struggling job market remains dependent on mastering job search fundamentals — some traditional, some new. Here’s a quick refresher on what you need to be sure you’re doing to get hired today.
The State of the Paralegal Profession: Key Trends that May Affect Your Career - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. August 2011
On the heels of the recent recession that was marked by unprecedented job losses, the term “career security” may sound like an oxymoron. Many jobs, after all, no longer come with the expectation of lifelong – or even long-term – employment. But even if this is increasingly true of today’s job market, paralegals and legal support professionals can take certain steps to piece together their own plans to obtain greater job security. The State of the Paralegal Profession: Key Trends that May Affect Your Career - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. July 2011. To keep pace in a highly competitive environment, law firms and corporate legal departments continue to adapt and modify their client service and business management strategies. Our annual Future Law Office research report, Best Practices for a New Era in the Legal Profession, explores a variety of trends in the shifting business climate for legal organizations. In this article, we’ll focus on three of these developments that could affect your career path: legal hiring trends, essential skills for future leaders and current recruitment and retention strategies.
The State of the Paralegal Profession: Key Trends that May Affect Your Career - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. July 2011
To keep pace in a highly competitive environment, law firms and corporate legal departments continue to adapt and modify their client service and business management strategies. Our annual Future Law Office research report, Best Practices for a New Era in the Legal Profession, explores a variety of trends in the shifting business climate for legal organizations. In this article, we’ll focus on three of these developments that could affect your career path: legal hiring trends, essential skills for future leaders and current recruitment and retention strategies.
Proper Interview Etiquette Makes a Good Impression - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. June 2011
The job market for the legal industry remains highly competitive, especially for recent law school graduates and less-experienced lawyers. It’s important therefore, to put your best, most professional self forward every time you meet with a hiring manager. Surprisingly, however, a significant number of candidates encounter problems at the interview stage, even though they are qualified for the position. Thirty-two percent of executives polled for a survey commissioned by our company said the interview is where professionals make the most mistakes.Some kinds of interview missteps can be chalked up to nervousness. But in other cases, candidates may simply be using poor judgment. Committing an interview faux pas can seriously impair your chances of being hired, however. Here are a few important but often overlooked rules to keep in mind.
Retention: Don't Lose Your Best People Now - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. May 2011
In recent years, law firms and corporate legal departments have learned how to respond to tough times in recent years. Now it’s equally important to dedicate time to preparing for improving conditions, especially when it comes to retaining top performers. Sgns point to a rejuvenating legal field. The vast majority (81 percent) of lawyers recently surveyed for our quarterly Robert Half Legal Hiring Index said they are either somewhat or very confident in their organizations’ ability to expand in the second quarter of this year. In addition, 29 percent of respondents said they plan to add legal staff over the same period and none plan reductions in personnel. As firms navigate through an improving economy, retention is a natural priority. To ensure you hang onto valuable employees who helped your firm pull through the recession, consider these tips.
What You Should Ask During an Interview - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Apr 2011
Most job seekers spend a lot of time thinking about the questions they’ll be asked during an interview. But there’s one they often don’t give much thought to, yet it’s one of the most important ones they’re likely to hear: “So, do you have any questions for me?”
How to Bounce Back From Career Setbacks - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Mar 2011
Helping others solve problems is all part of a day’s work for you as a legal professional. You’re trained to use your powers of analysis and reasoning to dispassionately examine an issue, assess all relevant factors and determine the best resolution. Yet it is much more difficult to calmly and objectively use these skills when dealing with your own professional setbacks.
Using Social Media in Your Job Search - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Feb 2011
If you’re hoping to land a new position this year, or if your ongoing job search could use a boost, you may want to pay more attention to the power of social media. In a job hunt, it’s all about who you know, and these tools can help you expand your in-person networking efforts. The three most popular social networking online tools are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Here are some suggestions for how you can best use these sites to enhance your job search.
Keeping Your Career Resolutions in 2011 - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Jan 2011
Every new year begins with the best of intentions, as career-minded professionals take stock of how far they’ve traveled toward their goals and where they hope to go from here. But how many of these resolutions will survive past February? The key to realizing ambitious goals hinges on breaking them down from sweeping changes into smaller components. For example, the desire to find a new job can seem daunting when considered alone, but when viewed as a series of smaller steps, the process seems much more manageable – and achievable. Consider, for instance, these common career-related resolutions, along with suggestions for enhancing your chances of making them a reality in 2011.
How to Handle a Career Setback - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Dec 2010
Few people are lucky enough to make it through their careers without going through some form of a setback. Mistakes, layoffs, demotions and poor performance reviews are just a few of the common challenges professionals can encounter. While these types of negative situations can seem like insurmountable obstacles at the time, keeping things in perspective and taking appropriate action can make all the difference. This doesn’t mean that you forget about the bad news, but rather you develop a system for coping and moving on.
How to Be an ‘Interview Magnet’ - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Nov 2010
If you’ve been conducting a job search in today’s competitive hiring environment, you know it’s possible to send out dozens of resumes and never get a single call. Although this is frustrating, the good news is there’s something you can do about it. Here are some ways to become an “interview magnet” for potential employers.
Inter-Office Communication Success - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Oct 2010
In the team-based environment prevalent in today’s law firms, it’s no exaggeration to say that communication is one of the keys to being able to do your job well. As a paralegal, you communicate with a wide range of professionals, from managing attorneys or general counsel to employees who are your junior. These interactions may be direct and real-time, such as project team meetings, or they may consist of written memos, e-mail or text messages. Regardless of how you interact, the ability to convey information, ideas, recommendations and opinions clearly and succinctly, in both verbal and written form, is central to your effectiveness and success in the law office, as well as your long-term career advancement and professional satisfaction.
Managing Your Online Image - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Sept 2010
A strong online image that highlights your skills and professional experience is an important career asset, particularly when you want to impress prospective employers. Recruiters, companies and law firms are increasingly using online sources to research the backgrounds of job candidates and learn more about their interests, hobbies and involvement in professional associations or industry groups.
How to Give Effective Performance Reviews - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. Aug 2010
As paralegals increasingly take on higher-level duties, such as managing teams of other legal support professionals, they are finding themselves on the other side of the desk when it comes to performance reviews. As you know from your experience in being the “reviewee,” these meetings are significant events in the course of your professional development. When your own performance is being critiqued, your goal is to glean information that will help you achieve your full potential with the firm or legal department. When you are in the “reviewer” seat, the objective changes somewhat. Your mission is to provide honest, objective feedback so staff members can leverage their strengths and develop strategies for overcoming their weaknesses. What some managers miss, however, is that the manner in which reviews are conducted can strongly influence the outcome. The best, most effective appraisals go beyond summarizing an employee’s accomplishments and shortcomings. Ideally, as a reviewer, you should strive to initiate a meaningful conversation with the employee. To ensure that the performance reviews you conduct hit the mark, try the following strategies.
Changes Impacting Paralegals - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. July 2010
As law firms and corporate legal departments continue to re-examine traditional methods of obtaining and delivering services, many are adopting new approaches. The roles of paralegals are shifting and evolving as well, and this presents both opportunities and challenges that could alter your current career path. Our 2010 Future Law Office white paper, Delivering Maximum Value in a Cost-Conscious Legal Era, explores a variety of current trends. In this article, we’ll focus on three key areas most likely to affect you: law firm structure, high-demand specialties and legal department workloads.
Paralegal Concepts - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. June 2010
Even before the economic downturn, legal organizations were beginning to recognize that many of their traditional approaches to obtaining and delivering legal services are no longer efficient and cost-effective. Robert Half Legal researched areas in which law firms and legal departments are finding solutions and has recently reported on these trends in a new white paper, Future Law Office: Delivering Maximum Value in a Cost-Conscious Legal Era. To help paralegals keep on top of shifts that can affect them and their careers, here’s a look at some of the findings in the report.
Tips for Evaluating Job Candidates - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. May 2010
Your firm has decided to hire additional legal support professionals to round out its current team, and it’s your job as senior paralegal to screen candidates and schedule interviews. Response to your firm’s posting on job boards has been brisk, and you’ve already starting sorting through resumes, eliminating applicants who are clearly not suitable. But even after this initial filtering stage, there are still a lot of “maybe’s” and “possible’s.” Now your task becomes more challenging. When faced with dozens of applicants who seem to have the necessary qualifications and experience, where do you draw the line to determine which candidates deserve to advance through subsequent stages of screening?
Tips for Motivating and Retaining Staff Post-Recession - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. April 2010
Although the worst of the economic crisis appears to have abated, the downturn is still having a decided effect on paralegals and other legal support professionals. In some law offices, the ranks of support staff were drastically thinned, causing individual workloads to double and even triple. If you are a managing paralegal, these changes likely forced each remaining member of your team to do more – and to do it with greater efficiency.
Solid References are a Job Seeker's Best Friend - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. March 2010
If you’re searching for a new job, one of your top priorities should be reaching out to your professional network and lining up your references. Members of your network can keep their ears open on your behalf and pass along leads to available positions. And when you’ve targeted a job opportunity that interests you, your professional contacts can provide a prospective employer with recommendations about you. Here are some suggestions for assembling a set of references that will support and enhance your job-hunting efforts.
Must Have Skills for the Expanding Paralegal Role - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. February 2010
With tighter budgets and leaner staff levels at law firms and corporate legal departments, job descriptions for paralegals continue to evolve and grow. For several years now, paralegals have been assuming duties from “above” and taking on work once performed by junior-level associates for which an attorney’s license is not required. In the wake of the recession, paralegals are also more frequently taking on responsibilities from “below,” performing administrative work in law offices with fewer (or no) legal secretaries on staff.
Thinking Outside the Law Firm: New Directions for Paralegals - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. January 2010
With so many qualified legal support professionals seeking work, it can be difficult to land an interview, let alone a position, with a law firm. If your job search is turning up few leads or a lot of dead-ends, it may be time to expand your scope. With the skills and professional training you have as a paralegal, you’re well prepared to explore job opportunities beyond the traditional law office.
Improve Productivity through Effective Workload Management - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. December 2009
As workloads increase and days get shorter, you may find that it’s more challenging than ever to complete all of your tasks and responsibilities in the course of a day. If you’re supporting several cases at the same time, or doing work for more than one attorney, you know how difficult it can be to juggle competing priorities and conflicting deadlines.
How to Adapt to Your Boss’s Style - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. September 2009
Some paralegals and their supervising attorneys seem to be as similar as bookends. They have comparable levels of energy and drive, compatible temperaments and complementary work styles. In other cases, however, the arrangement can be more of a mismatch.
Getting Back on Your Feet After a Career Setback - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. August 2009
Few legal professionals, no matter how much talent or experience they have, are immune from career setbacks. Try as they might to avoid them, most people will encounter stumbling blocks along their professional paths.
Networking Outside the Box - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. July 2009
Whether you are actively seeking employment like many paralegals today or laying the groundwork for an eventual job search once conditions improve, you need to follow similar steps. These include reviewing and updating your resume, lining up references and scanning job boards. But the most critical component in both preparing for and conducting a job search may be ramping up your networking efforts.
Thriving in the Cross-Generational Workforce - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. June 2009
Whether you’re working in a law firm, a corporate legal department, a government agency or a non-profit, it’s likely that you’re part of a legal team that spans multiple generations. These days it’s not unusual for a law office staff to be composed of workers from as many as four different generations: Traditionalists (born before 1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1977) and Generation Y (1978-1989).
Enhance Your Marketability with Continuous Learning - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. May 2009
The economic downturn has transformed the job market in the legal industry. With lay-offs impacting law firms of all sizes and businesses in virtually every sector, the market has seen a sharp increase in the number of skilled, experienced legal professionals seeking jobs. Competition for available positions is intense, and law offices are highly selective about which candidates to interview and ultimately hire.
‘Insure’ Your Career for Future Success - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. April 2009
Given prevailing economic uncertainties, wouldn’t it be great if it there were such a thing as “career insurance?” You would purchase it the way you do auto insurance. Then, in the event of an “accident” (you’re downsized, your company goes out of business or your job is sent offshore), you would just call your career insurer and promptly get another, comparable position.
Grooming Your Successor: Why It Matters for Your Career - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. March 2009
You’re at a turning point on your career path. Perhaps your law office is restructuring and changing the way duties are distributed among legal support staff, you’ve been assigned to a new practice group or received a promotion.
You Are What Your Wear: How to Dress for Success at Work - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. February 2009
It may seem like an advertising slogan from the fashion industry, but “dressing for success” is actually a real, viable strategy for paralegals wishing to make a good impression in the workplace. Clothing is part of a polished, professional image, and it can significantly affect your career advancement potential.
Consider a ‘Career Makeover’ for the New Year- By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. January 2009
In today’s challenging economic climate, you need to prepare for the unexpected and be responsive to changes in the market. The New Year is a good time to conduct a “career makeover” – an effort to revisit your professional goals, evaluate opportunities, update your skills and make sure you’re on track for continued career advancement.
Dealing With Office Gossips - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. November 2008
Law offices may vary in size, practice specialties, industry and ratio of paralegals to attorneys, but there’s one feature they probably all share – office gossip. It’s human nature to talk about other people, especially those we spend ten or more hours with, day after day, in the workplace.
How to Help Your Recruiter Help You - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. October 2008
When you’re job hunting, it makes sense to tap into as many resources as possible. That’s why many paralegals who are seeking a new position decide to team up with a recruiter. These professionals understand the needs of both employers and candidates and are well positioned to bring both parties together in effective matches.
The Art of Multitasking - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. September 2008
As a paralegal, you no doubt typically juggle multiple assignments at the same time. If you’ve ever drafted a brief, met with the legal team to coordinate discovery on a case, handled a deposition, helped prepare a trial presentation and researched case law in a single day, you know that being a juggler is part of the job description. In the fast-paced, tight-deadline world of the legal profession, multitasking is an indispensable skill.
Practicing Good Tech Etiquette in the Workplace - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. August 2008
You’re in the middle of a meeting with a client when your cell phone rings. It’s a member of one of the legal support teams you direct, probably calling with a question related to discovery on a case. Is it acceptable to take the call or should you wait until the meeting is over?
Conduct a Mid-Year Self-Assessment - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. July 2008
It’s an effective best practice to periodically review your specific performance objectives and overall professional goals to determine if you are on track toward achieving them. Most paralegals do this annually with their managers or supervising attorneys, but few take the extra step of conducting a self-appraisal mid-way through the year, between official performance reviews.
How to Manage Your Manager - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. June 2008
Imagine a law firm or corporate legal department where you and your supervisor are a perfectly matched pair. Your work habits, personalities and professional interests mesh seamlessly. Your manager praises your work constantly, and never utters a cross or critical word.
How to Correct Mistakes and Move On - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. May 2008
When you’re rushing to meet a deadline, trying to multitask, working under intense pressure or struggling to filter out distractions, it’s more likely that whatever can go wrong will, in fact, go wrong. And although “to err is human,” as the saying goes, this is somehow cold comfort when you make a humiliating mistake on the job.
Getting the Recognition You Deserve - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. April 2008
The team-based approach to handling cases and assignments, a practice widely used by law firms and legal departments, can be a double-edged sword for ambitious paralegals. On the positive side, working with a team gives you the opportunity to learn from a variety of people and hone your leadership skills. The downside is that your ideas and input may sometimes be overlooked or, worse, attributed to someone else in the group.
Tips for the Networking-Averse - By Charles A Volkert III, Esq. March 2008
Say the word “networking,” and legal professionals, depending on their personalities, hear either “opportunity” or “ordeal.” In fact, naturally gregarious, sociable types probably never stop networking, while shy, retiring types may never even start, or make half-hearted attempts at best.
The Art of Salary Negotiation - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. February 2008
If you receive an attractive employment offer after a well-conducted job search, congratulate yourself, but recognize that it’s not yet time to relax. To reach a mutually acceptable agreement and ensure that you receive what you’re worth, you must know how to assess and approach the salary proposal.
Resolution: Improve Your Communication Skills - By Charles A. Volkert, Esq. January 2008
One of the most important qualifications a paralegal can possess is strong oral and written communication skills. In the business of law, the ability to communicate precisely and effectively is central to success in the workplace and long-term career advancement.
Countdown to the Holidays: Planning Eases Transition To and From Vacation - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. December 2007
As the winter holidays approach, your schedule is likely filled to overflowing with extra events, chores and errands, while your mood may alternate between anticipation of holiday festivities and panic over how to get everything done in time. Of course, it doesn’t help if your workload is as heavy as ever, perhaps with tighter deadlines and increased pressure to “wrap things up” before year-end.
The Best Way to Prepare for Your Performance Review - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. November 2007
A performance review typically provokes a mixture of positive anticipation and anxiety. While you expect to hear praise for your accomplishments, you may also worry about the possibility of critical feedback regarding times when your performance may not have quite measured up.
Develop a Global Mindset - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. October 2007
The globalization of business has led to a corresponding trend in the practice of law – a shift that is placing new demands on law firms and legal departments alike.
Five Ways to Sabotage Your Professional Network - By Charles A. Volkert III, Esq. August 2007
An extensive network of professional contacts is one of the greatest career assets you have. Whether you’re looking for job leads, advice, a mentoring relationship or a referral to a potential client, your network is usually one of the first places you turn.
Avoid These Silent Career Busters - By Charles A. Volkert, Esq. July 2007
It’s not unusual for paralegals – or any professionals for that matter – to focus almost exclusively on job performance when trying to earn a promotion.
Design Your Resume for Professional Success - By Charles A. Volkert, Esq June 2007
If it’s been more than three years since your last job search, this is a good time to take a fresh look at your resume. As you progress in your legal career – gaining new skills, taking on increasingly challenging projects and achieving professional milestones – your resume can quickly become out-of-date.
What You Should Know About Online Pre-Employment Screening - By Charles A. Volkert, Esq. April 2007
If a prospective employer were to "Google" your name, what would your online "image" be? For job seekers, the answer to this question can have serious, even negative, implications.
Interviewing Tips for Candidates Within the Legal Industry - By Charles A. Volkert, Esq. March 2007
Hiring activity in the legal industry is steady, with recruitment of paralegals expected to remain strong at corporations, and midsize and large law firms. Although the demand for experienced paralegals is robust, a job offer is by no means guaranteed, particularly if legal professionals falter at that most crucial part of the job search process, the interview.
Dealing with a Challenging Boss - By Charles A. Volkert, Esq. February 2007
The average workplace is the site of a wide variety of interpersonal conflicts, but perhaps one of the most challenging is dealing with a problematic boss. In fact, a survey conducted by professors and doctoral students at the University of Florida and the University of Alabama found that workers are more likely to leave a job due to an abusive supervisor than because of dissatisfaction with salary.
Tips for More Efficient Online Job Searches - By Charles A. Volkert, Esq. January 2007
Searching for a new position can be a formidable task, requiring a significant amount of time and effort. Until someone designs a system where the perfect job finds you, paralegals will need to make their online job searches as efficient and productive as possible. The following tips can help you streamline your process and zero-in quickly on precisely the types of positions you’re looking for, with a minimum of extraneous results.
The Career Audit: A Vital Tool for Professional Growth - By Charles A. Volkert, Esq. November 2006
Today’s paralegals have more opportunities and choices than any other generation of legal assistants. Law offices increasingly recognize the expanded roles their paralegals can play in boosting efficiency and cost-effectiveness. But you’ll need to create your own unique, customized plan for professional advancement in order to take advantage of these developments.
Hiring Outlook Positive for Paralegals - by Charles A. Volkert, Esq. October 2006
Increasing caseloads and greater activity in such hot practice areas as litigation, intellectual property, corporate governance and real estate are prompting law firms and corporate legal departments nationwide to fill existing vacancies and create new positions.
Working with Four Generations in the Law Office - by Charles A. Volkert, Esq. September 2006
An unprecedented demographic shift is currently unfolding in law offices throughout the country. It’s reshaping every aspect of work, from company culture to recruitment and retention to interactions among colleagues and coworkers. This development is far-reaching, and its long-term effects are unknown, but it impacts every legal professional, regardless of training, area of expertise or tenure.