Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

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Anonymous User
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Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:32 pm

Hey guys, after a ton of deliberation, I decided to get some work experience before going to law school. I started interviewing at a bunch of different places, and I got an offer today from a major law firm. They say they want me to make a verbal commitment of 2-years. However, I was planning on just working for 1 year before heading to law school, and 'm not sure I'd be willing to do paralegal work for 2 years... I have two weeks to decide, and I doubt any other job offers are going to come before then.

What should I do? Is it that disastrous for my future career if I break my 2-year commitment?

Thanks!

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Moral_Midgetry
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Moral_Midgetry » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey guys, after a ton of deliberation, I decided to get some work experience before going to law school. I started interviewing at a bunch of different places, and I got an offer today from a major law firm. They say they want me to make a verbal commitment of 2-years. However, I was planning on just working for 1 year before heading to law school, and 'm not sure I'd be willing to do paralegal work for 2 years... I have two weeks to decide, and I doubt any other job offers are going to come before then.

What should I do? Is it that disastrous for my future career if I break my 2-year commitment?

Thanks!


I was in a similar situation a few months ago. I chose to pass on the job rather than back door them on the commitment come time for school. The impact it may have on your career can vary so it really depends on you and your career. If you want a reference, obviously, breaking the commitment wouldn't be so good for you. However, if you are thinking of taking a paralegal job in VA but you want to go to UCLA for law school and practice in LA then it might be a different story. In general, I would advise not making the commitment if you know going in you won't be able to fulfill it.

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dr123
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby dr123 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:49 pm

Just do the job for two years dude, make some monies and see if law is for you

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Stanford4Me
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Stanford4Me » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:52 pm

At this stage I wouldn't risk it, especially if it's in a market you want to work in long-term. The legal community is pretty tight knight.

zomginternets
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby zomginternets » Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:57 am

dr123 wrote:Just do the job for two years dude, make some monies and see if law is for you


+1

Anonymous User
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:02 am

Just do the job for two years. I know people that have broken 2 year commitments, for various reasons, and the attorneys get pissed. It takes quite a while to train you and the learning curve can be long, so by the time you actually have shit figured out you're leaving. This wasn't at a biglaw firm though, so fwiw. I'd think you may want to do it for 2 years anyway to see if law is for you and earn some money, especially if you're still fresh out of undergrad or relatively young.

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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:11 am

thanks for the replies guys, it seems like the generally consensus is not to break the commitment. I have a few days more to think it over, but I think I'll go through with it and make the commitment and endure the 2 years lined up before me!

Da Stain
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Da Stain » Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:48 pm

Did the 2 year paralegal thing before law school, so here's my take:

1. The commitment doesn't mean much. I suppose there are some attorneys who might be pissed, but generally I've found them to be so far removed from giving a shit about the goings-on of the paralegal staff. I know a bunch of people who left after one year, and still got all the recs they needed, etc. The only people who will probably know and care would be the paralegal department, and frankly, I could have cared less what they thought of me by the end. I got my recommendations, my supervisor was cool with me (granted I stayed the 2 years). I wouldn't sweat it.

2. Also consider this is at-will employment anyway. Not that I would recommend asking them to basically make you a 2 year contract (although it would be hilarious if you did), they're making no firm obligation to you and they're not really asking you for any firm obligation either. The commitment BS is basically a way of telling you that you won't really be going anywhere with them before 2 years, which is generally true. For your first 2 years there are no promotions, shitty raises, and barely noticeable bonuses (I got a fleece blanket and $500, which was then taxed, one year). That said, get in the right group and there's OT out the ass (I made close to 50k on a 37k base salary).

3. There is a pro to doing 2 years btw and one that does make the experience valuable. By the time you finish one year, you will probably be a main player, as much as a paralegal can be, in your cases. Attorneys will come directly to you and you will have a solid chance at developing legit relationships and references in that second year. Plus, depending on what you're doing, you'll definitely be able to get trial experience by that point (No trials my first year, three my second year and fat 100-hour week OT checks plus being in close quarters with attorneys).

On a personal level, I don't see why anyone is in a rush to go to law school. The economy still sucks for one, but moreover, you're 22 right now. Far be it from me to tell you how to live your life, but I absolutely loved working for 2 years. Made decent money, lots of disposable income and time. It was a really good two years, and when I did decide to go to law school, I was, gasp, 24.

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paratactical
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby paratactical » Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:59 pm

It probably depends firm to firm and market to market how seriously they take it.

For example
Da Stain wrote: I suppose there are some attorneys who might be pissed, but generally I've found them to be so far removed from giving a shit about the goings-on of the paralegal staff. I know a bunch of people who left after one year, and still got all the recs they needed, etc.

is the exact opposite of my experience. While I worked at the big firm in NYC, I got to know not only associates, but also partners on a very close basis. I know people at my firm that left after a year. They were told that they would get no letters of recommendation from anyone at the firm and that they should never plan on applying to the firm for employment, regardless of office. They were also advised that all of the local counsel smaller law firms that the larger firm employed would be advised not to hire them in the future.

It's not worth guessing as to what style the firm will take with the intention of ducking out.

wildcathighfive
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby wildcathighfive » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:09 pm

This didn't matter at my V10 firm where i was a project assistant. Paralegal hiring was barely even touched by attorneys, and the attorneys who I worked with were like "um yes get the hell out go to school early if you have the chance hope to see you back here". It just depends on the place I think.

paralegal
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby paralegal » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:10 pm

I would not recommend entering into a contract knowing it's for 2 years beforehand with the intention of breaking it.

Before law school, I worked for a biglaw firm, US and international offices, (V15) as a paralegal with a minimum 2-yr contract. The partners that I worked for wrote letters of recommendation for me for law school, all very strong recommendations. Now I'm a 1L at a T13 law school and the same partners again wrote letters of recommendation for several of my 1L summer employment pursuits. I'm finding in law school that prior work experience, especially at a top biglaw V15 firm, is somewhat of an advantage - and my relationships with those partners continue to remain extremely valuable.

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Stonewall
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Stonewall » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:13 pm

I say play it safe and don't take the job, even if you would only see a nominal hit to your reputation or whatever

Anonymous User
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:thanks for the replies guys, it seems like the generally consensus is not to break the commitment. I have a few days more to think it over, but I think I'll go through with it and make the commitment and endure the 2 years lined up before me!


you should take the position if you want it, and leave if you want to. keep in mind that they can fire you at any moment, and so, you should also feel free to leave at any moment. also keep in mind that you might take the LSAT next year, not like your score and decide to wait another year. you cannot know, without a doubt, what you'll be thinking next year.

roger8219
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby roger8219 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:thanks for the replies guys, it seems like the generally consensus is not to break the commitment. I have a few days more to think it over, but I think I'll go through with it and make the commitment and endure the 2 years lined up before me!


you should take the position if you want it, and leave if you want to. keep in mind that they can fire you at any moment, and so, you should also feel free to leave at any moment. also keep in mind that you might take the LSAT next year, not like your score and decide to wait another year. you cannot know, without a doubt, what you'll be thinking next year.


didn't mean to do that anon

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Kohinoor
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Kohinoor » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey guys, after a ton of deliberation, I decided to get some work experience before going to law school. I started interviewing at a bunch of different places, and I got an offer today from a major law firm. They say they want me to make a verbal commitment of 2-years. However, I was planning on just working for 1 year before heading to law school, and 'm not sure I'd be willing to do paralegal work for 2 years... I have two weeks to decide, and I doubt any other job offers are going to come before then.

What should I do? Is it that disastrous for my future career if I break my 2-year commitment?

Thanks!

I did this and it was no problem. As I was starting, one partner literally advised me to make the commitment, stay there for a year or so, then go to law school. Moreover, of my 'starting class' of about 12 paralegals, 3 of us made it to the one year mark. Two were gone after two weeks.

Da Stain
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Da Stain » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:41 pm

paratactical wrote:It probably depends firm to firm and market to market how seriously they take it.

For example
Da Stain wrote: I suppose there are some attorneys who might be pissed, but generally I've found them to be so far removed from giving a shit about the goings-on of the paralegal staff. I know a bunch of people who left after one year, and still got all the recs they needed, etc.

is the exact opposite of my experience. While I worked at the big firm in NYC, I got to know not only associates, but also partners on a very close basis. I know people at my firm that left after a year. They were told that they would get no letters of recommendation from anyone at the firm and that they should never plan on applying to the firm for employment, regardless of office. They were also advised that all of the local counsel smaller law firms that the larger firm employed would be advised not to hire them in the future.

It's not worth guessing as to what style the firm will take with the intention of ducking out.


I'll just say we were basically told the same thing, "Oh, if you leave before 2 years don't expect any references or letters of recommendation, etc. etc." I don't know anyone who had good relationships with the attorneys and was told that the attorney couldn't write the letter. In my experience, the only support-staff related thing attorneys hated more than shitty paralegals was those shitty paralegals' shitty bosses trying to tell them what to do. If attorneys like you, they'll write for you nearly every time.

09042014
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby 09042014 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:49 pm

Let the economy recover, and see if you can handle the lifestyle before you leave.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:06 pm

Any paralegals have experience with Manhattan DA's office ?

Major D.C. law firms ?

Also interested in learning why paralegals leave early. Thanks in advance !

strawboy1230
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby strawboy1230 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:36 pm

From the responses that I've read so far, the overall experience that each paralegal had was mostly based on the culture/dynamics of that specific biglaw firm. I've done a good amount of research on paralegaling and have spoken to partners and associates from some firms when I was interviewing- Almost all of them said that it was a nonbinding 2 year agreement. The only reason why they say 2 years is because it takes so long to train you, and when you leave after only a year, it's kind of a dick move. I really don't see anything wrong with working 2 years as a paralegal.

For one, the economy is still pretty bad. Since most nyc biglaw paralegals can take in a decent sized salary after OT, I'd say at the very least you'd have money to pay off your law school debt. Moreover, I think most people know that first, second, and maybe even third-year associates work as nothing more than an overpaid paralegals. If this is true, then you might as well see if the biglaw lifestyle is for you. One of my interviewers said she worked at a v20 firm and burnt out after 2 years, so she never ended up going to law school. Do you honestly want to graduate law school and then find out that law isn't for you?

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dr123
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby dr123 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:47 pm

If you couldnt stand to be a paralegal for 2 years, how do you expect to be stand being a lawyer for 20+

sullidop
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby sullidop » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey guys, after a ton of deliberation, I decided to get some work experience before going to law school. I started interviewing at a bunch of different places, and I got an offer today from a major law firm. They say they want me to make a verbal commitment of 2-years. However, I was planning on just working for 1 year before heading to law school, and 'm not sure I'd be willing to do paralegal work for 2 years... I have two weeks to decide, and I doubt any other job offers are going to come before then.

What should I do? Is it that disastrous for my future career if I break my 2-year commitment?

Thanks!


All large firms request this. It is not uncommon for kids to leave early (there's no actual contract, they can fire you at any time and you can leave at any time) and its unlikely that it'll effect you in future recruitment with the firm given the division in recruiting.

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JusticeHarlan
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby JusticeHarlan » Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:verbal commitment of 2-years.

Statute of frauds fail :P

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Kohinoor
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Kohinoor » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:12 pm

dr123 wrote:If you couldnt stand to be a paralegal for 2 years, how do you expect to be stand being a lawyer for 20+

--ImageRemoved--

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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:54 am

Da Stain wrote:Did the 2 year paralegal thing before law school, so here's my take:

1. The commitment doesn't mean much. I suppose there are some attorneys who might be pissed, but generally I've found them to be so far removed from giving a shit about the goings-on of the paralegal staff. I know a bunch of people who left after one year, and still got all the recs they needed, etc. The only people who will probably know and care would be the paralegal department, and frankly, I could have cared less what they thought of me by the end. I got my recommendations, my supervisor was cool with me (granted I stayed the 2 years). I wouldn't sweat it.

2. Also consider this is at-will employment anyway. Not that I would recommend asking them to basically make you a 2 year contract (although it would be hilarious if you did), they're making no firm obligation to you and they're not really asking you for any firm obligation either. The commitment BS is basically a way of telling you that you won't really be going anywhere with them before 2 years, which is generally true. For your first 2 years there are no promotions, shitty raises, and barely noticeable bonuses (I got a fleece blanket and $500, which was then taxed, one year). That said, get in the right group and there's OT out the ass (I made close to 50k on a 37k base salary).

3. There is a pro to doing 2 years btw and one that does make the experience valuable. By the time you finish one year, you will probably be a main player, as much as a paralegal can be, in your cases. Attorneys will come directly to you and you will have a solid chance at developing legit relationships and references in that second year. Plus, depending on what you're doing, you'll definitely be able to get trial experience by that point (No trials my first year, three my second year and fat 100-hour week OT checks plus being in close quarters with attorneys).

On a personal level, I don't see why anyone is in a rush to go to law school. The economy still sucks for one, but moreover, you're 22 right now. Far be it from me to tell you how to live your life, but I absolutely loved working for 2 years. Made decent money, lots of disposable income and time. It was a really good two years, and when I did decide to go to law school, I was, gasp, 24.


As a former big firm paralegal and current 2L, I wholeheartedly agree with this post. This mirrors my own experience as a paralegal almost to the T.

OldManHunger
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Re: Breaking Paralegal 2-year contract... how bad is it?

Postby OldManHunger » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:29 am

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Last edited by OldManHunger on Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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