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7 ways to step outside of your paralegal comfort zone

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Fear of change is a natural human emotion, but fear can help keep you in your comfort zone, afraid to venture out. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut; instead, explore new things as a legal support professional.

Does any of this sound familiar? Here are 7 ways to break out of your paralegal comfort zone and explore new aspects of your career:

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#1 Explore a new area of law

You’ve worked for an attorney for the last decade who specializes in estate planning, but you’ve always wanted to learn more about criminal defense. What’s stopping you? Even if you don’t want to change jobs right now, consider taking some continuing legal education (CLE) to learn more about some other area of law that has always interested you. After all, you can never learn too much about law.

Who knows, exploring a new area of law could lead you out of your comfort zone into an exciting new position. And if it doesn’t, you now have a new set of knowledge to add to your expertise.

#2 Try some in-person networking

Quit hiding behind social media, your cell phone, and texting. Instead, go to an in-person networking event and meet some new people – maybe even a few who don’t work in the legal industry. To really push yourself forward, hang out with people who are more successful than you—maybe there’s something you can learn.

Sure, it may feel uncomfortable and even awkward to walk into a room where there are no familiar faces. But it is also empowering, and an opportunity to gain a new perspective and new connections.

#3 Be proactive, not reactive

If you want to grow your career and enjoy a greater degree of professional success, being proactive is the way to go. Being proactive means creating more opportunities for yourself and giving yourself better choices. The best time to look for a new job is when you already have a job. So, if a new position is on your career bucket list, take action from a position of strength. This gives you all the options and all the power. Don’t wait for something great to drop in your lap—it almost never happens.

#4 Enhance your technology skills

Learning new technology will help keep your mind active. Legal technology continues to grow in importance to our industry, and the more you know the better positioned you are to succeed. Understanding how a new platform functions could help you navigate other technology used by your firm. This awareness could also lead you to delve further into a challenging and growing area of law: electronic discovery.

More law firms are looking to bring e-Discovery in house, which means the opportunity for paralegals to make a contribution and assume leadership roles continue to expand.

#5 Start a blog

Have you always felt like you’ve had something to say when it comes to trending issues in the legal industry? Do you find yourself wanting to share your insights? Starting your own blog will further enhance your knowledge of technology and hone your writing skills.

You’ll get the chance to familiarize yourself with a content platform, learn how to create catchy headlines, and maybe even acquire search engine optimization skills to increase traffic to your blog.

Pick a work-related topic that you are passionate about and can write about for longer than just a post or two. Choosing something that will help you grow professionally or increase your value at work is also a wise move.

#6 Go to law school

At some point in their careers, many paralegals consider going to law school. According to Law Crossing, this is usually because:

  • They believe their paralegal experience makes them good candidates for law school.
  • They have a desire for greater compensation for the work that they do.
  • They want more control over the work that they do.

While the first two might seem like valid reasons for applying to law school, if having a greater role in solving legal challenges is not the reason you are considering becoming a lawyer, going into debt for another degree might not be for you. But if you want to have greater power over your career, law school could be your next move.

#7 Be open to new opportunities

Not taking the time to at least consider new opportunities is essentially sabotaging your own growth. While being comfortable may sound good, it invariably leads to complacency, and complacency does not lead to a greater degree of success.

Of course, it’s fine to feel a sense of accomplishment and be proud of your professional achievements up to this point. But rather than feeling satisfied with where you’ve been, work to foster a sense of freedom to progress and interest in moving your career forward.

However you decide to step out of your paralegal comfort zone, try to stay open to change. As Dale Carnegie once said, “Welcome it. Court it. It is only by examining and re-examining your opinions that you can progress.”

Do you know of other ways to step out of your paralegal comfort zone? Tell us about them in the comments!

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