Certificate Programs Question

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Chief Littlebighead
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Certificate Programs Question

Postby Chief Littlebighead » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:08 pm

Used the search function but could not find an answer to this.

I will be starting law school in the Fall of 2013 part-time. Between now and then, I will be finishing up my undergrad degree in Spring of 2012. I am considering also obtaining a paralegal certificate (approx 28 credits) from a local community college, so that I may work as a paralegal during law school and to have a foundation of knowledge for later practice.

My question is whether or not anyone knows if the LSAC counts the certificate program GPA into the calculation of LSAC GPA, or, is it just based on undergrad program. I know they don't include masters, etc.

Any help would be appreciated.

firemed
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby firemed » Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:59 pm

They will count anything in that happens before you receive your Bachelors degree. So if you get that before you graduate, it will count (assuming the CC is regionally accredited, of course). If you get it afterwards, it wont for the LSDAS GPA... but schools will see how you did, so don't screw around.

Also, Masters degrees don't count for GPA calcs at LSAC... but again, the schools can see them. So don't do badly (though I hear that it is hard to do badly in graduate schools). A Masters counts as a weak soft, and a PhD as a decent soft (unless hard science, in which case is actually an excellent soft).

Your plan sounds excellent, so far. Which schools are you going to apply to?

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Chief Littlebighead
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby Chief Littlebighead » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:07 am

Thanks for the reply, Firemed. That is pretty much what I figured, but I wanted to hear it from someone else in the know. I am a working adult pulling a career change after 10 years in sales & marketing, and I am looking at the top part-time programs so that I would still be able to support my family whilst attending school. Looking mainly at Georgetown & GW.

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loblaw
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby loblaw » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:12 am

You don't really need the paralegal cert, especially if you are looking to go to DC. Most of the better entry-level paralegal gigs here require a good undergrad institution with a strong record rather than a paralegal cert.

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Chief Littlebighead
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby Chief Littlebighead » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:24 pm

That's interesting Loblaw. My thinking was that I should probably have something to show them to have any chance of getting a job in this economy without experience in the legal field. As stated, I do have over 10 years in sales & marketing, with over half that in management, but it just seemed smarter to approach them from the standpoint of here is my prior work experience in an unrelated field, here is my bachelor's degree, and here is my certificate stating general competency in your field. Since obviously I am thinking about law school, I wanted to work as a paralegal to get the proverbial leg up during school, but I could always work in the field I am in now, even though I really don't want to.

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loblaw
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby loblaw » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:04 pm

Chief Littlebighead wrote:That's interesting Loblaw. My thinking was that I should probably have something to show them to have any chance of getting a job in this economy without experience in the legal field. As stated, I do have over 10 years in sales & marketing, with over half that in management, but it just seemed smarter to approach them from the standpoint of here is my prior work experience in an unrelated field, here is my bachelor's degree, and here is my certificate stating general competency in your field. Since obviously I am thinking about law school, I wanted to work as a paralegal to get the proverbial leg up during school, but I could always work in the field I am in now, even though I really don't want to.


I see where you're coming from, but I really think the paralegal cert is a waste of time and money. You will have to explain why you are switching tracks, but they will understand when they see you are a PT student that you are dedicated to the legal field. I am a paralegal in DC and am friends with 5-6 others in biglaw, midlaw and gov, and we all have strong bachelors with no paralegal cert. Some places will accept a paralegal cert in lieu of a bachelor's but very rarely the other way around. Having both could give you a slight bump, but for 28 credits, sooo not worth it. In the interim, spend a little of that time doing an internship or getting a lower level office assistant position in a law office for a few months. In my experience, a little law office experience goes further than a para cert.

Also, I would stay away from biglaw because the hours can get insane--not good for PT law school. And are you sure you want to be a para? A lot of the work is tedious, and I think the only useful information I've gleaned from it is in using lexis and a little procedural knowledge. I am starting law school this fall so can't be sure how much is transferable--would be happy to let you know when I do it--but from what I understand, it isn't much at all. I would say the only big pro for being a para in law school is establishing a relationship with a firm/attorneys.

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Chief Littlebighead
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby Chief Littlebighead » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:49 pm

This is fantastic information to have, thank you very much. I can see where you are coming from too. I will try and develop some sort of legal assisting experience in my hometown before moving out to D.C, that way at least I will have some legal xp + bachelors degree + old work xp. Again, thank you for the well thought out, useful advice. Regards.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:50 pm

loblaw wrote:You don't really need the paralegal cert, especially if you are looking to go to DC. Most of the better entry-level paralegal gigs here require a good undergrad institution with a strong record rather than a paralegal cert.


TITCR

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tdicks
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby tdicks » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:49 am

firemed wrote:They will count anything in that happens before you receive your Bachelors degree. So if you get that before you graduate, it will count (assuming the CC is regionally accredited, of course). If you get it afterwards, it wont for the LSDAS GPA... but schools will see how you did, so don't screw around.


this might be a dumb question, but i hadn't considered this until i saw your post. i know that they require transcripts for any universities you attended, whether it's a degree or not, but are all of these hours calculated in your lsdas gpa? i took some chinese classes one summer but didn't bother transferring them because with study abroad i'd already have too many transfer credits to count towards my minor. would these count?

firemed
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby firemed » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:12 pm

tdicks wrote:
firemed wrote:They will count anything in that happens before you receive your Bachelors degree. So if you get that before you graduate, it will count (assuming the CC is regionally accredited, of course). If you get it afterwards, it wont for the LSDAS GPA... but schools will see how you did, so don't screw around.


this might be a dumb question, but i hadn't considered this until i saw your post. i know that they require transcripts for any universities you attended, whether it's a degree or not, but are all of these hours calculated in your lsdas gpa? i took some chinese classes one summer but didn't bother transferring them because with study abroad i'd already have too many transfer credits to count towards my minor. would these count?


If they were at a regionally accredited institution, and taken before you obtained your Bachelors, then yes.

awsiler
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby awsiler » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:14 pm

Just a different vantage point here... many certificate programs dont even have a GPA that is reportable..its basically a pass/ fail. So unless you fail, probably not an issue.

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CmonSD
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby CmonSD » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:34 pm

I got my certificate after graduating and took the NALA Exam. I will tell you it was a waste of 5k. I didn't learn anything useful, as most courses revolved around ethics and some very general case law. Nothing that really prepared me to do research, file documents with the court, etc. (i.e. the stuff you will do everyday) It didn't help me get my job and I don't really think my employer cared that I have it. If I had to do it again, I would have used that 5k to travel or do something else fun. Just food for thought.

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Chief Littlebighead
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby Chief Littlebighead » Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:13 pm

Yeah, thanks to the helpful advice on this thread and elsewhere on TLS, I have decided that the paralegal cert probably isn't the way to go. It was looking like it was going to cost me around 5k as well, and that seemed fairly stupid. I'm finishing up my degree and applying as a freshly minted summa grad (with 10+ years work experience). Looking forward to a change in field.

firemed
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby firemed » Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:36 pm

Chief Littlebighead wrote:Yeah, thanks to the helpful advice on this thread and elsewhere on TLS, I have decided that the paralegal cert probably isn't the way to go. It was looking like it was going to cost me around 5k as well, and that seemed fairly stupid. I'm finishing up my degree and applying as a freshly minted summa grad (with 10+ years work experience). Looking forward to a change in field.



Congrats! Enjoy your new life!

r6_philly
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Re: Certificate Programs Question

Postby r6_philly » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:58 pm

firemed wrote:
Chief Littlebighead wrote:Yeah, thanks to the helpful advice on this thread and elsewhere on TLS, I have decided that the paralegal cert probably isn't the way to go. It was looking like it was going to cost me around 5k as well, and that seemed fairly stupid. I'm finishing up my degree and applying as a freshly minted summa grad (with 10+ years work experience). Looking forward to a change in field.



Congrats! Enjoy your new life!


+1

I also finished my BS after 10+ years of WE. Enjoying every moment of it so far! Best of luck!

See my LSN (in profile) for more info.




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