When dealing with the paralegal industry, you’ll likely come across the term “specialization.” For those who are relatively new to the profession may become confused when discussing the variables of paralegal specializations. While you may be familiar with this term, especially in the medical field, specialization in the legal field is slightly different.
Even though a law firm may specialize within a particular industry, such as environmental or real estate law, it’s uncommon the firm spends 100% of its efforts dealing with only these types of cases. Instead, its specialization is the focus of the firm while still taking on projects outside of this scope of practice.
It’s not uncommon for a working paralegal to split their time among various specializations. Much like their attorney counterparts, a paralegal may primarily work within a specific section of law, but generally they often dabble in a variety of legal specialties. However, the most successful paralegals are those who primarily focus on a primary specialization.
Why You Should Specialize
There are many different reasons why a paralegal would want to specialize in a specific field. Many paralegals decide on a specialization based upon the needs of their employer or their personal interests in a specific legal field. It’s not uncommon for smaller legal firms to need a paralegal who is proficient in a variety of law topics as these professionals will be handling a wide array of legal cases. However, in larger law firms, it’s not uncommon for a paralegal to primarily focus on a single specialization as this employer holds many paralegals in their field of specialization.
Another valid reason to branch off into a specialization is to enhance your marketability within the job market. Because the paralegal job market can be quite competitive, obtaining specialization sets you apart from the crowd. Therefore, it can make the world of a difference when it comes to obtaining a job.
Become Certified in a Specialization
In order to truly showcase your proficiency in a specialization, it’s imperative to become a certified specialist. Educational programs for specializations are available through a myriad of organizations and training institutions. You may choose to specialize in a particular topic before you officially enter the job market or after several years of work as a general paralegal. In many states, continuing education opportunities exist to expand upon your working knowledge within a specialization. There are many states who offer paralegal specialist certifications. Check with your professional organization or educational institution to determine what specializations are available for you.