Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

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fml167
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Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby fml167 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:13 am

I've been looking into working as a legal assistant while going to GULC PT. I've found a few problems.

1. Most firms require a 2-year commitment; this could make graduating in 3 years via transfer difficult.
2. Overtime: I imagine that these positions have demanding work schedules. This could negatively impact class attendance, not to mention limit study time.
3. I've heard, somewhere, that GULC is hesitant to grant deferrals. This is somewhat problematic since deferring for the first year of the two-year commitment would probably make life a bit easier.

If any current or former legal assistants could share their experiences in regard to how many hours the position typically demands that would be great.

Also, if any evening students at GULC would like to comment on the types of legal jobs that are manageable during 1L that would be great.

fml167
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby fml167 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:30 am

bump

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2014
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby 2014 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:52 am

If you want to graduate in 3 years why do PT?

If GULC accepts you this year for PT and doesn't do a deferral, next year your application will just be stronger so while you couldn't assume another acceptance, I would think your chances are very high. Your work schedule is going to entirely depend on the firm. I'm assuming you are looking at working for biglaw?

Also make sure that you will be paid enough to cover COL in DC for a year in addition to any UG debt without student loans to subsidize you. It would suck to spend a year working in a tough job and go further in debt because of it.

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nealric
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby nealric » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:35 pm

I did this and am happy to answer any questions you may have. One disclaimer is that it's a ton of work. 1L year was pretty miserable due to lack of sleep (though I'm not sure how much easier it would have been as a FT student).

1. Most firms require a 2-year commitment; this could make graduating in 3 years via transfer difficult.
2. Overtime: I imagine that these positions have demanding work schedules. This could negatively impact class attendance, not to mention limit study time.
3. I've heard, somewhere, that GULC is hesitant to grant deferrals. This is somewhat problematic since deferring for the first year of the two-year commitment would probably make life a bit easier.


1. That tends to be larger firms. Don't work for a larger firm- they will be expecting you to work more than 40 hours. Find a small firm. DC actually has some great boutiques. Even so, the 2-year agreement isn't binding. I worked 30-40 hours a week.

2. See above.

3. Can't tell you about deferrals since I didn't ask for one.


If you want to graduate in 3 years why do PT?


Because you can save a good 30k in loans by working. You need to live with a cheapskate mentality though. Get lots of roommates.

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paratactical
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby paratactical » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:38 pm

Many firms do not require it in writing but merely require you to imply it. However, I only recommend verbally agreeing or implying agreement to the two year commitment if you either intend to keep the commitment or do not intend to ever seek employment at that firm or at other firms they are friendly with at any point in the future. I know of at least two firms that black list paralegals that break their two year commitments and they share names. Also, maybe it's a NE/NYC bias, but many firms calls secretarys Legal Assistants now and are going back to the paralegal title to denote legal work. So make sure you're looking at the gig you want.

fml167
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby fml167 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:18 pm

nealric wrote:I did this and am happy to answer any questions you may have. One disclaimer is that it's a ton of work. 1L year was pretty miserable due to lack of sleep (though I'm not sure how much easier it would have been as a FT student).

1. Most firms require a 2-year commitment; this could make graduating in 3 years via transfer difficult.
2. Overtime: I imagine that these positions have demanding work schedules. This could negatively impact class attendance, not to mention limit study time.
3. I've heard, somewhere, that GULC is hesitant to grant deferrals. This is somewhat problematic since deferring for the first year of the two-year commitment would probably make life a bit easier.


1. That tends to be larger firms. Don't work for a larger firm- they will be expecting you to work more than 40 hours. Find a small firm. DC actually has some great boutiques. Even so, the 2-year agreement isn't binding. I worked 30-40 hours a week.

2. See above.

3. Can't tell you about deferrals since I didn't ask for one.


If you want to graduate in 3 years why do PT?


Because you can save a good 30k in loans by working. You need to live with a cheapskate mentality though. Get lots of roommates.


Working for a smaller firm makes sense. To find a job with a boutique should I apply to the firms directly, or use a staffing agency?

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nealric
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby nealric » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:18 pm

Working for a smaller firm makes sense. To find a job with a boutique should I apply to the firms directly, or use a staffing agency?


You can do both and just see what you get. Agencies tend to be more biglaw-oriented though.

know of at least two firms that black list paralegals that break their two year commitments and they share names.


One of the reasons I wouldn't suggest biglaw for a paralegal spot. Also, a jr biglaw paralegal won't be doing much substantive work, but a small law paralegal might. I got to do a lot of work that might have gone to an associate at a large firm as a paralegal.

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paratactical
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby paratactical » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:20 pm

nealric wrote:
know of at least two firms that black list paralegals that break their two year commitments and they share names.


One of the reasons I wouldn't suggest biglaw for a paralegal spot. Also, a jr biglaw paralegal won't be doing much substantive work, but a small law paralegal might. I got to do a lot of work that might have gone to an associate at a large firm as a paralegal.

Depends. I got substantial work after my first 6 months as a paralegal because the partner I worked with decided he trusted me more than his first year associates (who he called idiots with legacy degrees), so it depends.

fml167
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby fml167 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:55 pm

nealric wrote:
Working for a smaller firm makes sense. To find a job with a boutique should I apply to the firms directly, or use a staffing agency?

You can do both and just see what you get. Agencies tend to be more biglaw-oriented though.


Is there a convenient way to find smaller firms to work for, perhaps a listing similar to vault?

fml167
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:25 am

Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby fml167 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:57 pm

paratactical wrote:Many firms do not require it in writing but merely require you to imply it. However, I only recommend verbally agreeing or implying agreement to the two year commitment if you either intend to keep the commitment or do not intend to ever seek employment at that firm or at other firms they are friendly with at any point in the future. I know of at least two firms that black list paralegals that break their two year commitments and they share names. Also, maybe it's a NE/NYC bias, but many firms calls secretarys Legal Assistants now and are going back to the paralegal title to denote legal work. So make sure you're looking at the gig you want.


Thanks for this advice. I'll be sure to be upfront about only making a firm commitment for a year. Though if the hours are manageable and the work is good I probably wouldn't mind working for 2 or even 3 years.

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nealric
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Re: Working as a Legal Assistant While at GULC PT

Postby nealric » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:01 pm

If you end up doing GULC PT, you should also be aware that the school hires a few PT people to work for the school in exchange for a full ride after 1L year. It allows people to graduate with very low debt.




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