Law school/paralegal questions

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Law school/paralegal questions

Postby dragonwalker » Tue May 18, 2010 5:01 am

Hey everyone,

I will be graduating from UC Davis in June with a GPA between 3.1-3.2, I have been looking at going to law school for some time now however I know my GPA is not good. I have been studying on and off for the LSATs since the previous summer and have scored in the low 150 range on practice exams but I know I can test better if I apply myself more. I have a feeling that I would benefit from more time so that's where the paralegal part of my question comes in.

One way I have thought about giving myself more time to do better on the LSAT and to really consider if law is what I would like to do in the first place is applying to work somewhere as a paralegal. To increase my chances of finding employment as a paralegal, I've thought about taking courses for certification in paralegal studies at a community college or UCLA near my home. The idea is that I would look for employment after I graduate, meanwhile taking the paralegal courses, finding work in the paralegal field, working on LSAT, applications, etc

Could someone tell me if this plan sounds feasible with the ultimate goal of getting into the best law school I can. Would spending several years in paralegal help my position? The paralegal program in UCLA is $5,500 compared to several hundred at a community college, is the price worth it at UCLA? What would be different about a community college program (given that both programs are ABA approved)? Thanks for the help.


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Re: Law school/paralegal questions

Postby yabbadabbado » Tue May 18, 2010 11:39 am

Getting a job as a para will not help you get into law school. That will hinge on your LSAT score. Getting a job as a para will help you earn some $ and figure out if law is really for you, and will also give you some time to work on your LSAT score. As for getting the para certificate, that will not help you get into law school either and may not be necessary for getting a job as a para. You need to start talking to law firms in your area that hire paras, and find out if you need the certificate to get a para job. In many places, paras are hired with just a BA and no para certificate at all.

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Re: Law school/paralegal questions

Postby CmonSD » Tue May 18, 2010 11:44 am

I almost attended the USD paralegal program after I graduated. Although tuition is relatively inexpensive for an accelerated course, they don't allow you to work and so I would have to take out loans for living/misc expenses. 10-12k just wasn't worth it for one-two years of my life. Look for a job at a firm doing some sort of office assistant (entry level) work as a lot will train you for paralegal work.

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Re: Law school/paralegal questions

Postby Bert » Tue May 18, 2010 11:56 am

Do not pay to get a paralegal certificate!

You can become an entry-level paralegal without the certificate. As for the experience, if you are on the fence about becoming an attorney, accepting a paralegal position may help you decide one way or the other as you will be exposed to the law, lawyers, etc. I was in a similar position when I got out of undergrad, and my paralegal experience has helped me decide that I do want to get into law.

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Re: Law school/paralegal questions

Postby baby lawyer » Wed May 19, 2010 11:09 am

I agree with the posters above. Don't pay to get a paralegal certificate. You can find a good paralegal position with just a B.A. I'm not sure how the paralegal job market is now with the downturn, but you should be able to find a position in a small-mid firm if you search diligently. Also, if you have a lower GPA, schools will appreciate years of work experience. I've heard that GPA tends to matter slightly less the longer you've been out. Good luck!


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Re: Law school/paralegal questions

Postby slowdiver » Wed May 19, 2010 1:34 pm

Getting a paralegal certificate to get a paralegal job is just below going to bartending school to get a job at a bar. You'll learn some stuff that might be useful, but unless you're seeing a lot of job ads that specifically require a certificate, it's probably just an unnecessary waste of money.

Somewhat echoing what others have said, working as a paralegal won't propel you into a law school, but you will get some experience that could very likely help you once you do attend--and you'll meet people who'll be able to talk about their experiences and likely help you with recommendations, etc. I did this before law school and found the experience really helped me in Civil Procedure class and areas related to the substantive law that the firm practiced in. Also, I'm still in touch with several of the attorneys, and they've pointed me towards potential jobs and given other helpful advice.

Paralegal work may also help with some of your "soft" factors in that you'll have some work experience (which some schools' admissions offices like) and you might get a good personal statement out of it (I wrote one about a deposition I attended). Also, it may help you when you're looking for summer work by providing some legal work experience and references.

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