There's a brand new event that's occuring at LegalTech this year: The Paralegal Technology Institute at LegalTech in New York on Feb. 3-4 at the Sheraton Hotel. They are even giving you the first day of LegalTech on Feb. 2nd for free.
Why am I mentioning it here? Probably because I am hearing from so many paralegals who are trying desperately to either hang on to their jobs in this tough economy or find a new job but don't quite know what to do. If you are trying to improve your value to your current firm, this may be the answer for you.
Investing in yourself to improve your skills is probably the best investment you can make. If the hottest areas in law today are technology, bankruptcy, foreclosures and healthcare, it would seem that making the investment to upgrade your skills to ensure some job security would make sense. It's a tough scene with all the budget cuts and turmoil. But somewhere, you have to take the step to get the skills you need. Passing up on opportunities like The Paralegal Technology Institute can stiffle your career. Many paralegals use the excuse for not getting out there and improving their skill base with: "My firm won't pay for it." Excuse? Yes, folks, excuse.
Ask yourself: What do you need to do in order to advance yourself? If your firm won't/can't pay for a seminar, why should you suffer? Here are a few tips on getting aggressive to get the education you need to stay current or advance in your job:
1. Offer to split the cost with the firm. It's worth the investment. While you bring back cutting-edge information to your firm (the firm benefits), you are going to a) get better assignments and b) take the knowledge with you when you leave the firm eventually. It serves as an attractive plus on your resume.
2. Offer to hold training sessions for other paralegals on what you learned. That takes the tuition of the seminar and spreads it out getting more ROI (return on investment). You could hold one training session per week for 10 weeks and bring all paralegals in your firm up to speed. If your firm is a continuing legal education provider and your state has required CLE requirements for paralegals, you will do your firm and your colleagues a favor by assisting them in obtaining their CLE.
3. Blog. Write up the seminars as you are sitting in the sessions. LegalTech is even giving special seating for bloggers. Let others know how savvy you are. Someone out there will take note of an ambitious paralegal. It's good PR for you and gets your name known in the community.
4. See if your association will send you and write a series of articles or hold Learn & Lunch sessions for other members of the association. What a great way for your association to gain continuing legal education on the most current issues.
5. Split the ticket with two other colleagues and pay for it yourself. Why not? Why should you be penalized and held back because your firm won't invest in you? Do it for yourself, your career and advancement. If you don't do it for yourself, who will?
6. If you are seeking a new job, what better place to go than where attorneys, litigation support professionals, other paralegals and vendors go to network? I understand that unofficially, between the New York and Los Angeles shows, LegalTech can attract up to 25,000 attendees. Surely, someone in all those folks know of a new job. Believe me, people in the trenches know where other jobs are long before HR. People confide in their friends at work when they are thinking of leaving. They don't go down to HR and say, "You know, I'm thinking about leaving." Doesn't happen. They confide in their colleagues who then have advance knowledge of upcoming positions.
See you at the Paralegal Technology Institute. BTW, if you are a subscriber to KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals (www.knowparalegal.com), you can receive a $200.00 discount off the tuition. Use the promotion code: KNOWPTI.