Will ABA paralegal cert. help me find a better para job?

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Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 8:08 pm

Will ABA paralegal cert. help me find a better para job?

Postby paralawyer » Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:53 pm

I am a current paralegal (almost hitting my third year) in a mid-size law firm; I do transactional and contracts stuff and often am given my own projects, clients, etc. I enjoy my work. However I've recently decided *not* to go to law school, despite the harassment I get from the attorneys that I should go. I graduated in '06 from an Ivy, accumulated over $60k in undergrad debt (my parents divorced and couldn't pay for my last year and my college sucked with fin. aid), and have reasoned that it doesn't make good financial sense to take out additional loans and forego my salary for 3 yrs. when both the demand for attorneys and average starting salaries are decreasing over time. So, I enrolled in an ABA "advanced paralegal certificate" program, which has proven to be a major pain in the ass, if actually quite interesting and informative at times. It's also given me a good motivation to read cases and Hornbooks, etc. outside of my practice area (maritime).

However, it has cost me about $3k and basically, I'm just praying that it's not going to *hurt* me in finding a better paralegal job. I'm also open to/interested in other paralegal-type jobs, like contract specialist/administrator, paralegal manager, project manager for a class action management company, and perhaps (although I'd be loath to do it) legal sales or recruiting. Since I've enrolled in the program and having read a lot of job ads for these positions that require a "BA and/or paralegal certificate" I reasoned that it could not hurt me, although my friends give me near-constant shit about it, saying I'm "weak" for not just getting my law degree. However most of the corporate, non-firm paralegal jobs I'm looking at would probably pay a pretty good salary -- maybe more than most starting attorney's salaries. But perhaps these companies would just as well hire a J.D. with actual contracts education, etc., knowing full well the current state of the under-employed J.D. market.

So my question for all you future J.D.'s is if I'm totally screwed, or if in fact this might actually help my career. If I'm totally screwed, I'm not sure what to do -- accounting? MBA? Teaching? All of those options require going back and getting expensive MA's, etc. I'm only one online course away from finishing the thing, but I just fear it might actually, somehow, hurt me.

Please PM if you'd rather not post. Thanks and cheers.

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