It is important for Legal Assistants to have good computer skills, since a large portion of your day will be spent working on the computer.
There are certain technology skills that are absolutely necessary for you to be proficient in, and some that are worth taking the time for you to learn to help you stand out as Best Legal Assistant.
From basic computer skills to advanced research capabilities, we will now take a look at which abilities are important for you to focus your training on.
Basic Computer Skills
Basic computer skills are simple tasks that you should know when operating a computer. Things like how to turn a computer off and on, and how to insert CD discs and USB drives. This also includes basic software use like opening and closing programs and printing documents.
Using the internet is a basic computer skill. Knowing how to use e-mail applications and access the internet are talents absolutely necessary to know in today’s technology-ridden offices. Being able to utilize search engines, such as Google, is an invaluable tool to assist in your daily work.
Most people already have the basic knowledge to have this category covered. But, if you did not have the opportunity to grow up around computers, be sure to take a crash course in basic computer skills, which ideally you would take before you begin your Paralegal classes.
The faster you can type, the better! And remember, accuracy is a must.
The ability to type rapidly will aid you in completing your daily work even faster.
When you face deadlines, being able to speedily and accurately type out the necessary information can save you valuable minutes that add up to hours of saved time.
While the ability to type by touch may seem like a basic skill, cultivating a typing proficiency can help set you above other job applicants. Being able to put typing speeds of 70+ words per minute on your resume helps you stand out from the crowd.
One possible way you can develop your typing capability is to take a course through your Paralegal school. It is a good option to fulfill an elective credit requirement; however, it is an expensive choice to take a college-level typing class.
A cheaper option available to you, is to purchase a typing tutor course that will allow you to practice and perfect your typing skills from the comfort of home, library, or coffee shop, whenever and wherever it is convenient for you.
Another valuable computer skill is the ability to type the 10-key pad by touch. As a Legal Assistant, you will often need to type in number data. From phone numbers to law codes, numbers are a constant part of data entry.
Basic Software Knowledge
Having abilities with basic computer software is pertinent. Not only will you relentlessly utilize these fundamental programs, but having a basis of knowledge of these programs will help you to learn the legal-specific software your law firm uses.
Word processing programs are utilized constantly throughout the work day to generate documents. Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Apple Pages, and OpenOffice are examples of word processing software.
Spreadsheet programs can be used for billing, keeping track of statistics, and logging evidence. Microsoft Excel, Quatro Pro, Apple iWork Numbers, and Gnumeric are examples of spreadsheet date programs.
Computer Research Skills
It was not long ago that you had to make a run to the law library to research every case. Now, a lot of research can be conducted from the comfort of your desk.
Two popular programs for legal research are Lexis/Nexus and Westlaw. These paid programs provide legal researchers with the ability to investigate court opinions and Shepardize a particular case. You will probably get a crash-course in both programs during Legal Assistant school. Unfortunately, it is cost prohibitive for you to learn these programs on your own. If you do not have access to them from Paralegal school, you will have to learn them at work.
Most codified law is available online from government websites. Findlaw is an invaluable free resource to help you in your topical case research. GoogleScholar allows you to find cases by jurisdiction and ranks them per its algorithm. Familiarizing yourself with free resources is a good idea to help increase your computer research quotient.
Aside from computer skills, it would be remiss not to mention other technological aspects that Legal Assistants should know. While they may seem simple, prospective employers will expect you to have knowledge of basic office technology so that they do not have to spend valuable time training you.
Among the things you need to have some level of operating knowledge of, are copy and fax machines, and printers. A key device you will want to be familiar with is a multi-line phone system, since phone calls will be a major part of your work day.
Your Next Step
Now that you are aware of the pertinent computer and technology skills you need to be a Legal Assistant, your next step is to be sure and receive a well-rounded and complete education and Legal Assistant Training.
Take a look around BestLegalAssistant.com to find answers to all of your questions about becoming a Legal Assistant and check back frequently for updated content to help you on your journey to becoming the Best Legal Assistant.