Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

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colforbin
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Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby colforbin » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:44 pm

About me:

Took the LSAT twice, got in off the WL to Fordham PT. Decided decided it wasn't worth the debt, so I looked into "project assistant" jobs. Now I'm at a v50 firm in DC.

If anyone has any questions, shoot.

To any grads of project assistant programs, how did it go for you? For anyone who went through OCI with it on your resume, what did employers think? Any stories to share?

strawboy1230
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby strawboy1230 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:30 am

colforbin wrote:About me:

Took the LSAT twice, got in off the WL to Fordham PT. Decided decided it wasn't worth the debt, so I looked into "project assistant" jobs. Now I'm at a v50 firm in DC.

If anyone has any questions, shoot.

To any grads of project assistant programs, how did it go for you? For anyone who went through OCI with it on your resume, what did employers think? Any stories to share?


How much are you making? or what's the base salary? i just got a paralegal job in nyc and just wanted to see if it was similar.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby Kohinoor » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:44 am

colforbin wrote:About me:

Took the LSAT twice, got in off the WL to Fordham PT. Decided decided it wasn't worth the debt, so I looked into "project assistant" jobs. Now I'm at a v50 firm in DC.

If anyone has any questions, shoot.

To any grads of project assistant programs, how did it go for you? For anyone who went through OCI with it on your resume, what did employers think? Any stories to share?
Most employers bring it up and mention that paralegal work would absolutely have dissuaded them. Good opportunity to mention that you've seen the hours and lifestyle and find it appealing. Be careful about saying that you're prepared for the work though since they would consider that drawing a parallel between paralegals and lawyers.

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Sinra
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby Sinra » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:26 pm

Kohinoor wrote:Most employers bring it up and mention that paralegal work would absolutely have dissuaded them. Good opportunity to mention that you've seen the hours and lifestyle and find it appealing. Be careful about saying that you're prepared for the work though since they would consider that drawing a parallel between paralegals and lawyers.



You mean that they would be less likely to hire you because there's paralegal experience on the resume? Or dissuaded them from going to law school at all? I'm concerned my W/E is too unrelated to law and that will give me problems when looking for a job. :?

jarofsoup
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby jarofsoup » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:28 pm

tag

jarofsoup
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby jarofsoup » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:34 pm

Sinra wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:Most employers bring it up and mention that paralegal work would absolutely have dissuaded them. Good opportunity to mention that you've seen the hours and lifestyle and find it appealing. Be careful about saying that you're prepared for the work though since they would consider that drawing a parallel between paralegals and lawyers.



You mean that they would be less likely to hire you because there's paralegal experience on the resume? Or dissuaded them from going to law school at all? I'm concerned my W/E is too unrelated to law and that will give me problems when looking for a job. :?


I really do not get why this would dissuad an employer. Experience is always a plus. I have had responses saying that it helps on this forum.

I think if you have the paralegal work + internships for 1L and 2L summers(clerking etc) It could make for a strong resume.

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Sinra
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby Sinra » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:35 pm

jarofsoup wrote:
Sinra wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:Most employers bring it up and mention that paralegal work would absolutely have dissuaded them. Good opportunity to mention that you've seen the hours and lifestyle and find it appealing. Be careful about saying that you're prepared for the work though since they would consider that drawing a parallel between paralegals and lawyers.



You mean that they would be less likely to hire you because there's paralegal experience on the resume? Or dissuaded them from going to law school at all? I'm concerned my W/E is too unrelated to law and that will give me problems when looking for a job. :?


I really do not get why this would dissuad an employer. Experience is always a plus. I have had responses saying that it helps on this forum.

I think if you have the paralegal work + internships for 1L and 2L summers(clerking etc) It could make for a strong resume.


I think it was RC fail on my part actually.

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let/them/eat/cake
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby let/them/eat/cake » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:44 pm

Kohinoor wrote:
colforbin wrote:About me:

Took the LSAT twice, got in off the WL to Fordham PT. Decided decided it wasn't worth the debt, so I looked into "project assistant" jobs. Now I'm at a v50 firm in DC.

If anyone has any questions, shoot.

To any grads of project assistant programs, how did it go for you? For anyone who went through OCI with it on your resume, what did employers think? Any stories to share?


Most employers bring it up and mention that paralegal work would absolutely have dissuaded them. Good opportunity to mention that you've seen the hours and lifestyle and find it appealing. Be careful about saying that you're prepared for the work though since they would consider that drawing a parallel between paralegals and lawyers.


Exactly this. I para'd for a V5 for two years, on a small transactional team where i was able to really get my hands dirty, so to speak. it was a great way for me to say honestly that i had seen what the job entails and that i not only think i could handle it but that I am still--having previewed and experienced some of the brutality of the hours and the random fire-drills and difficult client demands--still excited for the main attraction. Literally just like kohinoor says:

Interviewer: So i see you worked for two years at XXX--still decided law school was a good idea huh?
Me, In a kind of joking manner: Friends and colleagues of mine were asking me the same thing as I was applying--I guess I didn't dislike the experience as much as I should have? In all seriousness, even with [bad aspects], the [good aspects] were [character building, educational, yada yada yada], and I feel like I'm coming into this process with my eyes open and a well-formed sense of what I want and what these kinds of jobs entail.

ran12
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby ran12 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:37 pm

The one thing I always hear is that if you were a paralegal, it's less likely that you would be hired by your old firm once out of law school b/c it may be uncomfortable for associates to work with you considering at one point you were their inferior and prob didn't treat you as an equal.

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let/them/eat/cake
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby let/them/eat/cake » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:09 pm

ran12 wrote:The one thing I always hear is that if you were a paralegal, it's less likely that you would be hired by your old firm once out of law school b/c it may be uncomfortable for associates to work with you considering at one point you were their inferior and prob didn't treat you as an equal.


Meh, idk about this. Where I was I had heard from one or two people that if a former para is 'in the ballpark', the fact that the person formerly worked for the firm is looked upon favorably. But it's probably firm and person dependent--no hard and fast rule, is my guess.

I got a CB from my former firm based, I'm pretty sure, solely on the fact that I used to work there and did well/impressed people while i worked there. My grades were respectable but certainly not V5 level for my school. At the screening interview I basically said, I loved my time there, it's absolutely my #1 (which of course it was), and my grades aside, I think if you contact any of the folks with whom I worked, they can attest to my capabilities and the fact that I could thrive at [firm]. I think they did contact some people I used to work with and I got a CB on the strength of what those folks said (i think this because I heard back from the firm a day or two after some other folks who screened the same day as I did). So I got my foot in the door--my CB did not go well, if i'm being honest. I did not connect with almost anyone that interviewed with me, and I got a bad vibe. The people with whom I went to lunch were spectacularly boring and uninteresting. I could have tried harder, I suppose.

TL;DR: I got a CB at former firm, even though my grades didn't warrant one.

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vamedic03
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby vamedic03 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:25 pm

ran12 wrote:The one thing I always hear is that if you were a paralegal, it's less likely that you would be hired by your old firm once out of law school b/c it may be uncomfortable for associates to work with you considering at one point you were their inferior and prob didn't treat you as an equal.


Lol @ midlevel and senior associates treating junior associates as equals.

jarofsoup
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby jarofsoup » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:50 pm

I see on Linkdin a lot of JDs working as paralegals at top firms. I guess it is a recession fall back.

I have also heard that big law practice likes JDs who did not pass the bar for paralegal positions because they have the legal training and not the added cost of mal practice insurance.

But this is a lot of rumor and not a lot of confirmed fact.

colforbin
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby colforbin » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:52 pm

strawboy1230 wrote:
colforbin wrote:About me:

Took the LSAT twice, got in off the WL to Fordham PT. Decided decided it wasn't worth the debt, so I looked into "project assistant" jobs. Now I'm at a v50 firm in DC.

If anyone has any questions, shoot.

To any grads of project assistant programs, how did it go for you? For anyone who went through OCI with it on your resume, what did employers think? Any stories to share?


How much are you making? or what's the base salary? i just got a paralegal job in nyc and just wanted to see if it was similar.


My base is just under 40. The pay sucks when I'm only working 9-5, but the overtime that I work results in a pretty respectable income. Like I said, I started in July, but annualized, I was on track for around 46-47.

vamedic03 wrote:
ran12 wrote:The one thing I always hear is that if you were a paralegal, it's less likely that you would be hired by your old firm once out of law school b/c it may be uncomfortable for associates to work with you considering at one point you were their inferior and prob didn't treat you as an equal.


Lol @ midlevel and senior associates treating junior associates as equals.


Some interesting points here. None of my past experiences prepared me for the crazy hierarchies at my firm. It's probably one of worst parts of the job because paralegals are basically the bottom of the totem pole. That being said, I'm either getting used to it or earning some respect. Probably a little of both.

As far as paralegaling at a firm, going to law school, and then returning, it probably varies from firm to firm. I know mine has hired multiple paralegals/project assistants as summer/full time associates. It was something that was specifically discussed in my interview even. Further, a lot of "project assistant" programs are designed for law school bound people. Seems strange to offer a program while having a policy of blackballing past PAs. But it does happen, or so I hear.

Anonymous User
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:36 pm

Here is, verbatim, an e-mail from a 1L employer I received last week. I was a paralegal at a big firm:

"I have hundreds of applications but noticed your prior legal exposure and pulled your resume right away. Have you spoken with [student] from [your school] who [worked here previously]? I will call you tomorrow 2 PST. Sound good? What number is best?"

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Kohinoor
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:49 pm

let/them/eat/cake wrote:
ran12 wrote:The one thing I always hear is that if you were a paralegal, it's less likely that you would be hired by your old firm once out of law school b/c it may be uncomfortable for associates to work with you considering at one point you were their inferior and prob didn't treat you as an equal.


Meh, idk about this. Where I was I had heard from one or two people that if a former para is 'in the ballpark', the fact that the person formerly worked for the firm is looked upon favorably. But it's probably firm and person dependent--no hard and fast rule, is my guess.

I got a CB from my former firm based, I'm pretty sure, solely on the fact that I used to work there and did well/impressed people while i worked there. My grades were respectable but certainly not V5 level for my school. At the screening interview I basically said, I loved my time there, it's absolutely my #1 (which of course it was), and my grades aside, I think if you contact any of the folks with whom I worked, they can attest to my capabilities and the fact that I could thrive at [firm]. I think they did contact some people I used to work with and I got a CB on the strength of what those folks said (i think this because I heard back from the firm a day or two after some other folks who screened the same day as I did). So I got my foot in the door--my CB did not go well, if i'm being honest. I did not connect with almost anyone that interviewed with me, and I got a bad vibe. The people with whom I went to lunch were spectacularly boring and uninteresting. I could have tried harder, I suppose.

TL;DR: I got a CB at former firm, even though my grades didn't warrant one.

Definitely agree that previous experience there doesn't necessarily hurt and can certainly help. Of course, if you sucked/were fired/left no impression you might receive no benefit, but if they remember you as the para who was in the trenches on Christmas, I certainly think it helps. Anecdotally, I did well at my old firm and know several others with biglaw para experience who did equally well. If you keep in contact with people and get grades that aren't abysmal, your old firm is a very good shot.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Biglaw Paralegals: Past, Present, and future

Postby Blindmelon » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Here is, verbatim, an e-mail from a 1L employer I received last week. I was a paralegal at a big firm:

"I have hundreds of applications but noticed your prior legal exposure and pulled your resume right away. Have you spoken with [student] from [your school] who [worked here previously]? I will call you tomorrow 2 PST. Sound good? What number is best?"


Either hilarious sarcastic post, or stupid flame. Can't tell.




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