Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

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colforbin
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Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby colforbin » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:04 pm

How much does a typical Biglaw firm in DC pay entry level Legal Assistants? 30k, 35k, 40k?

Anyone with experience want to help me out? Thanks!

Bankhead
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Bankhead » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:35 pm

colforbin wrote:How much does a typical Biglaw firm in DC pay entry level Legal Assistants? 30k, 35k, 40k?

Anyone with experience want to help me out? Thanks!


35-40k

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mallard
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby mallard » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:35 pm

Note that you will be working, and making, significant overtime.

colforbin
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby colforbin » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:17 am

So 35-40 is pretty standard? Anyone ever land one of these types of jobs?

colforbin
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby colforbin » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:45 pm

up

roger8219
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby roger8219 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:55 pm

I made 42k starting base salary in San Francisco as as PA. This was standard across several firms in the area. I'm not positive about DC, but I'm pretty sure my firm paid the same for SF and DC.

Anonymous User
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:05 pm

Roger 8219: how long did it take you to hear back for an interview after you have submitted your resume to the PA position? Was it via email or phone?

Thank you!

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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:14 pm

My base is $40k, before taxes. Last year, I made $55k after taxes.

So OT is big.

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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:16 pm

What is "OT?"

Congrats with that awesome salary increase!

Mind sharing when you heard back from your law firm after you have submitted your resume?

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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What is "OT?"

Congrats with that awesome salary increase!

Mind sharing when you heard back from your law firm after you have submitted your resume?


Overtime. You better be prepared to work (I average about 60 hours/week, sometimes significantly more). I should mention, though, that I'm at Vault-5 in NYC so most of the firm's work happens here. DC might be slightly more relaxed.

Applied in December, interviewed in late Jan/early Feb. Heard back less than a week after I interviewed. Had a job by the end of Feb of my senior year.

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T14_Scholly
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby T14_Scholly » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What is "OT?"

Congrats with that awesome salary increase!

Mind sharing when you heard back from your law firm after you have submitted your resume?


Overtime. You better be prepared to work (I average about 60 hours/week, sometimes significantly more). I should mention, though, that I'm at Vault-5 in NYC so most of the firm's work happens here. DC might be slightly more relaxed.

Applied in December, interviewed in late Jan/early Feb. Heard back less than a week after I interviewed. Had a job by the end of Feb of my senior year.


Good thing you established that you're at a V5 - after all, legal assistants at firms lower than V5 work less.

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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:39 pm

Thank you for sharing this detailed information!

So, I guess it does take some time for the firm to process/decide whom to interview. I guess it did take less than 1 month for you as well?

The job that I had applied for was listed under "current vacancy" I wonder if it will take one month or will they fill on a rolling basis?

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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:53 pm

I started as a legal assistant at my firm (4 lawyers in LA) at $30k a year ago pre-tax. Boss offered a raise to $40k for next year if I didn't leave for law school. It's decent but definitely nowhere near the OT opportunities mentioned above, I guess just due to size and firm workload. I never end up doing over 45 hours/week. So that's nice lol

dudders
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby dudders » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:55 pm

mallard wrote:Note that you will be working, and making, significant overtime.


Keep in mind you only make OT if you're paid hourly and not salaried. I'm a paralegal at a non-BIGlaw firm and they keep all non-attorney staff on salary. If your practice group is in trial prep and you're working 80 hours a week, so be it. If we're in a client slump you spend less time at your desk but don't take a financial hit because you only billed 70 client hours. (We expect paralegals/legal assistants to hit 1200, in combination with non-billable administrative and personal assistant-type tasks.)

$35-$40k is probably standard in most markets for entry-level.

I wouldn't be surprised if the recession has motivated other firms to put more people or at least new hires on salary. No OT = more cold, hard cash for the partners.

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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:06 pm

I'm a PA in Chicago and I make $30K in a big law firm. :?

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thesealocust
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:29 pm

edit: n/m
Last edited by thesealocust on Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

prelaw10
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby prelaw10 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:06 pm

Can anyone speak about their experiences as legal assistants? What you enjoy about it? Are you planning on going to LS? Do most of your peers plan on LS?

Also, how competitive is it to get the job? I've heard that project assistants at some biglaw are very competitive and almost exclusively hired from elite colleges. Is this true? I also heard that some programs (Skadden, I think?) allow project assistants to work extensively on probono projects! Is this true?

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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:55 am

prelaw10 wrote:Can anyone speak about their experiences as legal assistants? What you enjoy about it? Are you planning on going to LS? Do most of your peers plan on LS?
I lucked out and was able to get a PA job at one of the larger, but mostly regional, firms in the South Atlantic, and it has been amazing. It 1) exposed me to what lawyers actually do on a day-to-day basis, 2) helped me confirm that I actually want to become a lawyer and do those things and 3) allowed me time away from undergrad to get "real world" experience so that when I go back into the academic realm I won't be continuing the marathon from my undergraduate studies and instead am starting after a refreshing two-year hiatus.

Honestly, if I were to say what I enjoyed most about my job it would be the job itself and I think it's the lawyers and paralegals I work for that really help to make that possible. They are friendly and open to questions while simultaneously expecting me to accomplish tasks independently of their oversight. I have assisted other practice teams and have worked for a wide range of personalities and I don't think I would love my job as much as I do if I wasn't working for my team. If anything, this job has shown me how important professional/peer relationships are in establishing an enjoyable work environment. That said, I enjoy the work in and of itself and I absolutely can't wait until I'm a lawyer in the thick of all of these cases rather than a simple PA, where you really feel as if you're on the outskirts of things.

All of that said I am leaving for LS in a few weeks, and I would say that there's about a 70/30 split for my PA peers throughout all of the offices in terms of who isn't going to LS and who is. Most of the PAs have been with the firm for quite some time and appear to be sticking with the position while a few of us are obviously just getting a taste of the legal field before heading out to LS to become baby lawyers ourselves.

FWIW, in terms of pay, all Practice Assistants and Paralegals at my firm are paid hourly, so overtime definitely comes into play. I think my annual pay, before taxes and overtime and based on expected hours-per-week, is something like $25k. Last year, with overtime and after taxes, I think I hit a little above $32k. It really depends on office location for base rate of pay and the work load of the attorneys you are helping - for example, I spent a couple of weeks in DC helping out a team up there for a few weeks and I know the PAs/Paralegals not only have a higher base rate of pay starting out of the gate but the folks I was helping regularly get massive OT due to the attorneys being in the office more hours of the day than out of it (and expect everyone else to be there with them). The pay isn't phenominal by any stretch of the imagiantion (I've joked that I would stick with my job for the rest of my life if they only paid me better - and I'm only half kidding, my job is awesome), but it's better than what I was making in undergrad working as a server and it's doing something I genuinely enjoy.



Also, how competitive is it to get the job? I've heard that project assistants at some biglaw are very competitive and almost exclusively hired from elite colleges. Is this true? I also heard that some programs (Skadden, I think?) allow project assistants to work extensively on probono projects! Is this true?
While my firm isn't biglaw, it defintely is a strong midlaw firm and nothing to scoff at (well, nothing to scoff too strongly at, at least). That said, the only reason why I got the job was because 1) I happened to know a guy who knew a guy (honestly) who used to work for my firm which led to me inquiring about a position which worked out only because 2) the PA I would eventually replace was leaving for LS himself in about a month. I had been knocking on law firm doors for about two/three weeks all throughout my city after I got my UG diploma and the only reason why I picked up this job was because I was pointed in the right direction at the right time. Looking back on it now, I cannot tell you how lucky I was that I was looking for a legal assistant position for only a few weeks and I actually managed to land a really sweet gig.

For me, I don't think it was a matter of not having an amazing UG name pasted on my diploma, it was just that firms were looking to save costs and bringing on additional employees is the antithesis of saving money. And all arguments about "ITE" aside, that critical eye on spending practices within firms is still strongly in effect. For example, instead of hiring a new PA to fill my position, my firm is just shifting an existing PA over to my current practice group to fill my shoes after I leave. I think anyone who wants to try to become a PA for a few years before law school will be facing not only others who want the position but they will be faced with something they can't even necessarily compete against: firms not wanting to hire. That said, I know a few people who are making their way in via unpaid internships or temporary paid positions and are hoping to do a good enough job so that they can expand that position to a more permanent, full-time job. So, to some extent, where there is a will there is a way.


Overall, I think being a PA is something any and everyone interested in going to law school should do for at least a year. It exposes you to what a lawyer does and gives you a glimpse into what your professional life might be like. I work with a few PAs who were going to just do it for a year or two and then head on to law school but once they saw what lawyers do they decided to avoid LS altogether. Even if you're only able to do it for a few months and for shitpay, I whole-heartedly support working for a firm for some amount of time to see what a post-LS future will possibly hold for you.




...I feel like I somehow became the promotional manager for PAs everywhere. :|

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby Kiersten1985 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:11 am

prelaw10 wrote:Can anyone speak about their experiences as legal assistants? What you enjoy about it? Are you planning on going to LS? Do most of your peers plan on LS?

Also, how competitive is it to get the job? I've heard that project assistants at some biglaw are very competitive and almost exclusively hired from elite colleges. Is this true? I also heard that some programs (Skadden, I think?) allow project assistants to work extensively on probono projects! Is this true?


Yes, and most of my peers are going, too. Some are going to grad and MBA programs, though.

Everyone I work with did very well in school, and while I wouldn't say we're from "elite" schools, I think the majority are from Tier 1 undergrads. My best advice would be to show the firm you love to work, want nothing but to work, and will devote your life to the firm. Be prepared to give a commitment of at least 2 years. Cases last a long time and don't want constant turnover.

I can't imagine a firm like Skadden (I'm not there, but at a very similar firm) allowing LA's to work solely on pro bono. There are definitely opportunities, but at the end of the day, you're slaving away on paying matters, mostly for big banks, etc.

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ach24
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Re: Project Assistant/Legal Assistant/etc. Salary

Postby ach24 » Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:37 pm

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