Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

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LSATdecember2012man
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Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby LSATdecember2012man » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:26 am

Hey all,

I recently applied to biglaw firm where I have a family member who's a partner at the firm. I'm not depending on it getting me an interview.... but it leaves me as more likely.

Anyway, I have a few question:

This firm deals with a lot of financial institutions. How many finance related questions would they ask me? What would be the bulk of the questions?


Also, I'm assuming I'll be working 70-80 hour weeks if I work biglaw as a paralegal, but not as much as a associate. Is this an accurate perception?

Thanks.

Anonymous User
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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:31 am

I'm currently working as a paralegal at a biglaw firm on the litigation side. The only time I've worked a 70-80 hour work week has been during a trial. The corporate paralegals at my firm rarely work weekends, and they work less than the litigation folks. This is not to say that it's the same everywhere, but I highly doubt you'll be working 70-80 hours weeks.

At my firm associates are expected to bill 1850 hours. For paralegals its 1500-1600.

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently working as a paralegal at a biglaw firm on the litigation side. The only time I've worked a 70-80 hour work week has been during a trial. The corporate paralegals at my firm rarely work weekends, and they work less than the litigation folks. This is not to say that it's the same everywhere, but I highly doubt you'll be working 70-80 hours weeks.

At my firm associates are expected to bill 1850 hours. For paralegals its 1500-1600.


how much do you get paid? I hear, including overtime, from 50k to 80k for big law.

35k~ for smaller firms, 40k~ base for big law.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently working as a paralegal at a biglaw firm on the litigation side. The only time I've worked a 70-80 hour work week has been during a trial. The corporate paralegals at my firm rarely work weekends, and they work less than the litigation folks. This is not to say that it's the same everywhere, but I highly doubt you'll be working 70-80 hours weeks.

At my firm associates are expected to bill 1850 hours. For paralegals its 1500-1600.


How heavy is the stress? I can handle stress/responsibility very well but I'm hoping I can study an hour or two after work for the LSAT.
I can take the LSAT within the next two years so i'm not facing deadlines on the LSAT.

How difficult was the material? I was a paralegal at a small firm for a summer (I'm a college student) and I enjoyed the work, it wasn't too difficult, but I don't remember much of what I did.

SHIA
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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby SHIA » Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:17 pm

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Last edited by SHIA on Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently working as a paralegal at a biglaw firm on the litigation side. The only time I've worked a 70-80 hour work week has been during a trial. The corporate paralegals at my firm rarely work weekends, and they work less than the litigation folks. This is not to say that it's the same everywhere, but I highly doubt you'll be working 70-80 hours weeks.

At my firm associates are expected to bill 1850 hours. For paralegals its 1500-1600.




how much do you get paid? I hear, including overtime, from 50k to 80k for big law.

35k~ for smaller firms, 40k~ base for big law.


Same anon as above. I make about 55k base (I've only been doing for it ~1 year, but I also get overtime. After overtime last year, it got closer to 70k) Some of the senior paralegals can rake in six figures on really busy years.

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:49 pm

I worked as a biglaw paralegal for a year. Base was 40k. I did not enjoy it. but it REALLY depends on your practice group, this probably also applies to being an associate. The people I worked with hated their lives, their work and were just in a bad mood the whole time. There were a couple of exceptions.

The hours were bad. We got to come in late, 9:30-10. but stayed until 6, and most people stayed until 8 pm very very often. The top para stayed until 11 pm about half the time she was working I would say.

As far as studying for the lsat, it did NOT work for me. Me and this other para started on the same day, but she was always said "yes" and "i'll stay to finish this today" I always said "I have to go home" and "when do you need this by because i am very busy" this was because I knew this was temporary and I didn't need the money (she did, and OT is very generous). I'm obviously not going to pull that crap when I'm an attorney because I will want to keep my job (more over, hopefully I will like it better.)

We both tried to study for the LSAT whilst doing this job. When we had just started (in August), we always stayed late, because we "had" to, it was our new job. Eventually she drifted into the staying late and me into the leaving "early." We both took the December LSAT, but for the last month she asked to take permission to take Fridays off to study (because...you just CAN'T study after a day in biglaw, you just want to go home, cry and DRINK WINE), I just kept leaving early, we did not do well.

Long story short, I quit to study, didn't work for a month, then got a job as a secretary, mindless retarded shit so I could study at my desk. Going to NYU in the fall.

She, last I heard "wonders how her life ended up here."

No moral of the story here, and obviously some people study for the LSAT while raising a newborn, but this was my experience.

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:08 pm

Do law firms drug test?

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:14 pm

Also interested in what the requirements/expectations are to be a Big Law paralegal?

Is there a noticeable number of TTT JDs or foreign grads working these jobs?

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Also interested in what the requirements/expectations are to be a Big Law paralegal?

Is there a noticeable number of TTT JDs or foreign grads working these jobs?


It's completely unheard of for JDs to work as paralegals. The vast majority of firms have a strict no-JDs policy for paralegal hiring. JDs might be doc review monkeys, but they can't be paralegals, partially because it would create complicated ethics problems. Foreign lawyers I also doubt ever work as paralegals, but there may not be policies on it.


Anyway, 70-80 hour weeks, consistently, is more than even high-performing associates work at V10 firms. (70 hours a week is 3500 hours a year--assuming around a 75% conversion from hours worked to hours billed, which is definitely lowballed, that's 2625 billable hours, above average [though not exceptional] even at Wachtell.) Obviously sometimes associates work way more than that in a week, up to 100-110 hours, but they also have 35-hour weeks sometimes. Paralegals won't ever have a week as bad as 100 hours; 70 hours in a week is likely to be the single worst week of the year. Most weeks, paralegals at big law firms work 40-45 hours.

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thesealocust
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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby thesealocust » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:Do law firms drug test?


Never heard of them doing so, no. Might depend on the position (e.g. drivers or security guards might be even though lawyers and paralegals aren't?)

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 20, 2013 3:19 pm

OP sounds like (s)he's drawing a parallel between biglaw paralegal and investment banking analyst coming out of UG. Definitely not the same. As has been stated, paras tend to work less than junior attys. because the firm can't bill them out as much and they become much more expensive when they're getting OT. So firms want them busy for 8 hours and then out the fucking door unless absolutely needed.

Interviews are just fit type questions. What's your interest in law, maybe talk about specific interest in this practice area, future plans, demonstrated ability to write, etc. etc. Nothing like IB interviews where you have to field technical questions. They just want to make sure you're not an idiot and you'll be engaged since the job is generally boring as piss.

It can, however, be an awesome job if you get a group that's insensitive to OT. You can run that up even if you're not that busy and possibly arrange to study for LSAT while you're on the clock. This typically only happens when a group takes "face time" way to seriously, so while it can be an awesome hookup in some respects, it can also make your life suck horribly in a lot of ways.

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 20, 2013 3:22 pm

I used to be a para (legal aid, not big law), my hours generally ranged from 35-50 depending on what was going on. I doubt big law is that much different, I'd expect it to be more in the 40-50 range and not 70-80 range.

ZyzzBrah
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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby ZyzzBrah » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:33 pm

Just a random anecdote, my friend worked as a paralegal in biglaw for a couple years before coming to law school. He just got an SA position at the firm without having the grades (or coming from the school) that are normally required for that firm

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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I used to be a para (legal aid, not big law), my hours generally ranged from 35-50 depending on what was going on. I doubt big law is that much different, I'd expect it to be more in the 40-50 range and not 70-80 range.


i don't know if a lawyer associate only works in the 40-50 range. i highly doubt that. I hear nothing but long hours from stories of associates.
ZyzzBrah wrote:Just a random anecdote, my friend worked as a paralegal in biglaw for a couple years before coming to law school. He just got an SA position at the firm without having the grades (or coming from the school) that are normally required for that firm


I have a 3.5 gpa, so I think i'm competitive GPA wise. it's just a matter of institution, which is a flagship state school. Your friend was probably from a higher tier school.

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paratactical
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Re: Interviewing and working as a Paralegal at a Big Law Firm

Postby paratactical » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:36 pm

OP - The answer to these questions depends on a lot of things, one of which is what kind of market you're looking into. NYC and Chicago have higher hours than cities like Boston, DC, San Francisco, etc. I've been a biglaw paralegal in both NYC and Boston and am open to any questions you'd want to PM me. I've also worked closely with a paralegal whose father was a large client of the firm, so I can talk about the perks I saw there, as they may apply to you a bit.

In my experience, it is highly unlikely they will ask you finance-related questions even if you're looking to do corporate paralegal work. If it was your major, they may ask you some basic questions about it, but paralegals are generally expected to handle document organization and management and not actual issues of fact or understanding in a case or a deal. Do not try to tell any attorney you are working for what you know about finance if they don't ask you.

Your perception of hours is off. Associates almost always put in more hours than paralegals. The exception is that when paralegals are setting up for things like court, deal closings, depositions, negotiations, mediations, etc. These are document-heavy events and paralegals will be in the office or at the courthouse setting up. Only during these events have I seen paralegals working when associates weren't. Usually associates leave the office later than paralegals. While I was in biglaw, I would have months where I worked 9-5s with the occasional 9-7. I would have other months where I would work 6AM-midnight seven days a week for a month. I was primarily litigation and workloads like this were not unusual in expedited discovery or preparation and attendance at long trials.

Edit to add a few other answers:

- I have never heard of a biglaw firm drug testing paralegals.
- Most of the firms I have worked with or interviewed at had a hard floor of a 3.5 UG GPA and a two year commitment, having daddy as partner might negate the need for either.
- At the firms I worked at, it was not okay to regularly deny work because you did not want OT. Continued employment was contingent on willingness to do OT. People who routinely declined were fired. The only exception was the guy whose father was CFO of a multimillion dollar client.
- No one gave a fuck or gave me time off to study for the LSAT. They did not care and were not accommodating. I got staffed on a trial that had me working 100 hour work weeks the month before my LSAT, no one cared. (I did entirely bomb the test).
- Also, el-oh-fucking-el at the guy who thinks biglaw paralegals never get anything over 70 hour work weeks. Maybe the partners you work with didn't trust you; maybe you never went to a seriously big trial; I don't know, but that is entirely the opposite of my experience.




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