Portfolios – What to include?

Having established in an earlier post that a portfolio can really help in the job hunt, the next thing is to consider what should be included in the portfolio.

The following are some of the things which could be included:

  • A well-written brief of a case in the practice area in which the attorney/firm practices.
  • A memorandum of points and authorities on an issue in the practice area in which the attorney/firm practices.
  • Samples of documents created using various legal software applications such as Time map, Case map, Tabs 3, Abacus or other software with which you are familiar.
  • Samples of judicial council forms prepared using either a form package such as Legal Solutions or Pro Doc as well as those prepared using the forms found online through the court web site.
  • Samples of writing which illustrate your ability to analyze, synthesize and clearly explain the law relevant to a legal issue.
  • PowerPoint Presentation on some area of substantive law, e.g. Ethics for the Paralegal, Civil Litigation Timeline or some other topic that lends itself to easy presentation to highlight ability to use PowerPoint and to create content that is interesting and accurate.
  • Samples of pleadings drafted using WordPerfect or Microsoft Word.
  • Samples of correspondence, especially those with content that shows understanding of relevant legal vocabulary and ability to analyze facts and legal issues.
  • C.D. with copies of digital files for items included in portfolio (to be left with interviewer).

If you do not have samples directly relevant to the practice area of the attorney or firm, you should use what you do have.  I would also make sure that all work included in the portfolio is correct and edited for typographical and other errors.

Your portfolio should have good presentation value.  It should have a cover page, dividers which are labeled or a table of contents which corresponds to the dividers.  The Portfolio is a reflection of you and your ability to create a neat, well-organized and well-presented product with accurate and well-written samples.

It may be a work in progress, so start collecting those examples now!

Why have a Portfolio?

I highly recommend to my students and former students who are going to a job interview that they take with them a portfolio of some of their better work done while in school or while working as a paralegal.

I have had paralegals report back to me that the portfolio was something that seemed to push them to the top of the stack of applicants.  I have also had them report to me that potential employers were surprised by the number of projects they had done while in school.  I have even had students tell me they were hired based on their portfolio.  Therefore, the easy answer to the question, “Why have  a Portfolio?” is:   It just might get you a job!!!!

The portfolio has  a lot more credibility than you as the interviewee have.  Most job applicants routinely exaggerate their “hands-on” experience.  Some even lie as to the skills they possess to get a job only to be fired shortly thereafter because they just can’t deliver the goods.  The Portfolio is hard evidence for the interviewer of what you have already done.  It shows that your statements about your skills are backed up by proof, documentary proof.  I recommend that you take your portfolio with you to interviews and that you leave a digital copy (on c.d. or d.v.d.) with them.  When they go back to review resumes later, yours will be clipped (hopefully) to a c.d. full of work samples.  This may be what recommends you to the final interview stage.

I will address how to put together the portfolio in upcoming posts, so make sure you have subscribed to the blog . . .

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