Legal work experience

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Esquared
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 4:11 pm

Legal work experience

Postby Esquared » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:44 pm

I just recently graduated from my undergrad and I have thought a lot about law school. Recently I've been interviewing for paralegal/legal assistant positions as I felt these types of jobs would help me determine whether or not going to law school and pursuing a legal career would suit me. However, practically every person I've spoken with has told me that paralegal work is horrible and I've also been told it doesn't really help much in terms of figuring out if you'd like being a lawyer.

So I guess my question is, what would be a good job for an entry-level recent college grad that would give him good legal experience and help determine whether law is a fitting career choice?

tingles
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:41 pm

Re: Legal work experience

Postby tingles » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:48 pm

Working as a paralegal for a firm is very different from working as one for the government. For the government, you're pretty much doing associate level work, versus just copying binders all day (although you do that as well). I worked as a paralegal for the gov before coming to law school and it definitely helped me decide that I wanted to attend. I made a lot of great contacts with the attorneys and got to witness first-hand what attorneys do on a day-to-day basis.
Last edited by tingles on Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ambitious
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:41 pm

Re: Legal work experience

Postby Ambitious » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:49 pm

It really depends.

If you get stuck in a place that has you just do filing, scanning, and tedious busy work, for a very disrespectful crew of malcontent attorneys, then yes, the work is terrible and unhelpful.

However, if you get paired with a team that will have you perform substantive legal research, assist in motion practice, research precedents, write briefs, etc-- then it is a great way to determine whether or not law is right for you.

My current position is incredible and I work with brilliant lawyers so it has definitely solidified my desire to become an attorney.

Good luck with the search!

Esquared
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 4:11 pm

Re: Legal work experience

Postby Esquared » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:51 pm

Working as a paralegal for a firm is very different from working as one for the government. For the government, you're pretty much doing associate level work, versus just copying binders all day (although you do that as well). I worked as a paralegal for the gov before coming to law school and it definitely helped me decide that I wanted to attend. I made a lot of great contacts with the attorneys and got to witness first-hand what attorneys do on a day-to-day basis.


Thanks for your response. Do you know the best place to look for those kinds of positions?

tingles
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:41 pm

Re: Legal work experience

Postby tingles » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:15 pm

Esquared wrote:
Working as a paralegal for a firm is very different from working as one for the government. For the government, you're pretty much doing associate level work, versus just copying binders all day (although you do that as well). I worked as a paralegal for the gov before coming to law school and it definitely helped me decide that I wanted to attend. I made a lot of great contacts with the attorneys and got to witness first-hand what attorneys do on a day-to-day basis.


Thanks for your response. Do you know the best place to look for those kinds of positions?


usajobs.gov

Ambitious
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:41 pm

Re: Legal work experience

Postby Ambitious » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:17 pm

Really depends.

Most of the gov ones will require real experience to be competitive.

In-house legal positions are probably your best bet if you're fresh on the market. That, or you could consider working for a solo practitioner or a small firm.

There are a lot of good options-- it's something you should size up in the interview and with the posting. If you don't really need the money and just want the experience, I recommend screening out employers that don't match your criteria. It's something they tend to be honest about.

If you really need the money, then don't be picky and try to move up after you land the job to something that better matches your objectives.

If you decide law is not for you, then hopefully you worked on some substantive matters involving the area of business or trade that you are going to pursue instead. My first position set me up to transition to marketing or sales due to the huge involvement I had with that aspect of the business.

Keep in mind that your job will alter your approach angle on applications, so try to pick something that is aligned with your selling points.

High GPA & High LSAT - Competitive Public Interest Jobs / Biglaw Paralegal / Other Community Service (there are some firms that only take paralegals from "prestigious" undergraduate schools. Strikes me as a bit snobby, but that is part of the culture). I think most of what this job does is matching your already established credentials, or gives you some cool differentiator. Building schools in Haiti is not on everyones resume. It also matches snob-factor.

The less time you spend out of Law school the better.

Splitters -- Anything that has high promotion potential. Your career needs to show that you have aptitude that your numbers don't show.

Spending a moderate amount of time before law school is good. Three years should probably be around enough.

Make sure to get out of law immediately if you don't like the legal research stuff-- it can really change the character of a resume and make you unsuitable for other jobs.




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