Best job for experience

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Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:23 pm

Best job for experience

Postby Robespierre1618 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:34 pm

I am a part time night, 1L, at Chicago-Kent, and started school early during the summer. I just recently quit a full time position that paid poorly,and took a part time position that basically pays the same. I have more time to study, and the flexibility of taking an internship if I want to. I recently entertained the thought of hunting for a legal-related position that would get my feet wet, and give me some experience and networking, while paying potentially the same or more than the previous position I had (it was not law related), even if full time.

Since I am a part-time 1L, I don't think I have the skills yet to take on a paralegal positions. I was looking at legal secretaries and legal assistants, and I mostly have all the qualifications they look for (usually, when they don't require 4 years plus legal experience), as I have plenty of administrative experience.

I talked to my professor, and she said that in order to get legal experience, it would be better if I do an internship/volunteer work at a firm than taking on a job as a legal secretary or assistant, and that I would not get too much experience from those jobs.

I could just basically rely on this part time and concentrate in school. However, when I was working full time during the summer I was able to ace my finals, so I am confident that a full time, although challenging, would not be killing for me, and I would love instead of working a dead-end job, use my time wisely and get experience while I get some money. I cannot afford working for free entirely, I need even a minimal source of income.

First question;

Are legal secretary/assistant jobs as awful as my professor made them to be?
Could I realistically do a clerking job?
Should I instead do what my professor said and take on an internship?

Thank you in advance for the advice.

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Re: Best job for experience

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:04 am

Robespierre1618 wrote:Since I am a part-time 1L, I don't think I have the skills yet to take on a paralegal positions.

Paralegal positions, by and large, are filled by college graduates with no legal experience.

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Re: Best job for experience

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:05 am

Your prof is right... legal secretary/assistant positions (they are both different names for the same position) are largely just filing, copying, and other bullshit administrative work. Paralegals typically do similar work (although they sometimes get to take on a small amount of responsibility, such as drafting a cookie cutter response to a complaint, which an attorney will later revise). Go intern/"clerk" for a small/mid size law firm if you really need some extra cash; otherwise, go volunteer for a PI/gvt organization (e.g. your local USAO). PI/gvt organizations usually really need help and will give you a huge amount of responsibility really quickly. You probably won't need to quit your current job to volunteer- the organizations typically are extremely flexible with you during the semester (although, some require you put in at least X hours, to make it a worthwhile experience for you). It'll be a much better experience than xeroxing and stapling documents for an attorney at a personal injury as a legal secretary... If you do choose to intern/"clerk" at a smaller law firm, just do your research ahead of time to make sure your going to get a meaningful experience out of it. I've read about smaller law firms/attorneys basically screwing students by using them as cheap/free labor to do bullshit work that doesn't give you any kind of meaningful experience.

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