Over the past 25 years or more, Patricia B. “Pattie” Chouinard has picked up a lot of knowledge as a business law paralegal at Shipman & Goodwin in Hartford, Conn.

After all, when she first joined the firm, she knew little about the job, having earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages from the University of Connecticut. She said she learned the ropes the same way she advises newcomers in the profession to learn them — by doing.