Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

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Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:47 pm

Hi all,

I am looking for some help with a decision that I have to make soon, and would love some of your opinions.

I recently graduated from university, and I am preparing slowly for the LSAT. With that said, I did not participate in my university's OCI as an UG for various reasons, and after graduating I am currently unemployed (not panicking yet). However, In the last couple months I have been mass applying everywhere locally and nationally for all types of office and legal assistant positions and I got a little bit lucky with an interview coming up at a V10 Biglaw firm in NYC.

However, despite landing an interview, the main problem that I face is that if I was given an offer to take the position, I would have to move to NYC from the Midwest. Such a move seems difficult because I have no ties in NYC, the 40k salary (and bonuses) do not justify the high COL, and the hours and OT might prevent me from adequately preparing for the LSAT. If I lived at home with parents and snagged a FT job I could save up money, study, and assist the family with various things.

But, coming from a top public national university with no ivy league ties (and no connections to anyone anywhere), this position seems like it will be a gift from god lol, and blowing this off to stay comfortable at home while studying for the LSAT seems to be a huge mistake. I discussed this with my parents, and they both explained that while this is a great chance to get out and start my young professional life, there will be no financial support for moving or anything of that matter. This is totally fine, but it does make me wonder about what is the next step to take. Look for local jobs, stay home, save money and study? Or go get some Biglaw experience, make some connections, work my ass off, and hope for the best?

With regards to living in NYC, here are a few questions I am pondering:

1) Would living outside NYC and commuting by car (I own a car) every day be doable (salary wise and time wise?). I commuted to UG via Amtrak for one year which entailed a 3-4 hour round trip depending on weather etc. And I would have no problem living in CT, NJ, SI, or anywhere and driving so long as its affordable on the salary I am on.

2) The work/life balance as a paralegal in a V10 in relations to studying for the LSAT: how hard of a balancing act would this be?

3) Connections: Is there a difference between getting recommendation for law school from someone at a V10 firm over some office manager in X Midwest city, or some Y lawyer from a personal injury shop?

4) I also wanted to say that after doing some research on different practice areas within law, I find plaintiff/tort/class action litigation intriguing me the most, and is why I am interested in going to law school. Biglaw is not something I aspire to go into, but the position to get your foot into the door and assist on some top notch legal work seems too good to turn down.


I would love to hear some tips, opinions, or wisdom from all of you!
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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UVA2B

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Re: Moving to NYC for BigLaw Paralegal Position?

Postby UVA2B » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:56 pm

1. No. Don't do it. Just don't do it.

2. Quite a few paralegals at that echelon are doing what you hope to do, but they're still going to try to get work out of you. That means you'll have to be committed to studying in your downtime/riding the train/commuting, weekends, etc. That doesn't mean it can't be done, but you'll have to commit a significant amount of your free time to studying, because a significant amount of time will be spent working if you take the job.

3. Maybe, but for admissions, it's probably not much. Lawyers will ostensibly know more about what admissions are looking for at a law school, but LORs in general don't have a huge impact unless they're an influential donor or otherwise carry cachet among admission folks. I wouldn't worry about the relative weight of LORs.

4. If you want to go into plaintiff side class action/tort work, you've already pigeon-holed yourself quite a bit before starting law school, and I would kindly recommend you don't do that. It's possible you could end up at Quinn or another big plaintiff-side firm in the end, but I wouldn't give much weight to it before you start. Figure out whether you're eligible for Wilkinson Walsh or Kaplan when you get closer to interviewing.

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Re: Moving to NYC for BigLaw Paralegal Position?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:23 pm

UVA2B wrote:If you want to go into plaintiff side class action/tort work, you've already pigeon-holed yourself quite a bit before starting law school, and I would kindly recommend you don't do that. It's possible you could end up at Quinn or another big plaintiff-side firm in the end, but I wouldn't give much weight to it before you start. Figure out whether you're eligible for Wilkinson Walsh or Kaplan when you get closer to interviewing.


Hi UVA, OP here, thanks for your input. I actually just wanted to comment on the firms you listed, and just wanted to add a brief list of firms that I was interested in working for as both as a lawyer or a legal assistant/paralegal so you get a better idea of where I hope to go after law school (I know I know, interests can change etc, but these firms are propelling me to go to law school).

• Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain.
• Berger & Montague.
• Bernstein Liebhard.
• Bernstein Litowitz.
• Cohen Milstein.
• Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd.
• Gibbs & Bruns.
• Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.
• Labaton Sucharow.
• Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein.
• Milberg.

As for the comments on the actual move to NYC:

1) Why would it be not advisable to commute via car (I heard it was faster than train/bus)

2) Has anyone successfully done this? By success I mean getting a score of 170+ while working biglaw hours?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:35 pm

I have some personal experience with this. I worked NYC BigLaw for a year before going to law school, and took the LSAT while working 50-70 hour weeks. I commuted from Connecticut while doing this. I did very well on the LSAT. So I feel qualified to make the following statements:

1. Absolutely do not, do NOT, drive into NYC. This is hard for someone to understand, coming from the Midwest. I also came from a very car-centric state. But driving into NYC is murder. Don't do it! The only decent way to get around NYC is via subway, and the only decent way to commute in from outside the city is via rail.

2. A long commute is extremely draining, especially on top of long and unpredictable days at work. I made it work for me by sleeping and studying for the LSAT on the train. I was able to study very effectively on the train. If you are not able to sleep on a train, and not able to study effectively on a train, don't saddle yourself with a long commute.

3. You can easily find affordable living arrangements in the city. You'll have very little space, and will likely need to have at least one roommate. But it's doable. Depending on where your firm is located, you may wish to consider housing in Brooklyn, Queens, or Jersey City/Hoboken (on the PATH).

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Re: Moving to NYC for BigLaw Paralegal Position?

Postby Npret » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
UVA2B wrote:If you want to go into plaintiff side class action/tort work, you've already pigeon-holed yourself quite a bit before starting law school, and I would kindly recommend you don't do that. It's possible you could end up at Quinn or another big plaintiff-side firm in the end, but I wouldn't give much weight to it before you start. Figure out whether you're eligible for Wilkinson Walsh or Kaplan when you get closer to interviewing.


Hi UVA, thanks for your input. I actually just wanted to comment on the firms you listed, and just wanted to add a brief list of firms that I was interested in working for as both as a lawyer or a legal assistant/paralegal so you get a better idea of where I hope to go after law school (I know I know, interests can change etc, but these firms are propelling me to go to law school).

• Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain.
• Berger & Montague.
• Bernstein Liebhard.
• Bernstein Litowitz.
• Cohen Milstein.
• Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd.
• Gibbs & Bruns.
• Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.
• Labaton Sucharow.
• Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein.
• Milberg.

As for the comments on the actual move to NYC:

1) Why would it be not advisable to commute via car (I heard it was faster than train/bus)

2) Has anyone successfully done this? By success I mean getting a score of 170+ while working biglaw hours?

1. Because traffic in NYC is insane and parking will cost a fortune.

It may be worth doing this to help you solidify your interest in law. How much it will help with your future, I’m not sure.

Your LSAT is far more important in admissions than any LOR. Getting into a top school at a good price is the best way to get into the kind of jobs you might want. I’m not sure how much paralegal experience will help you with employment over grades or schools, but I admit I know nothing about employment at the firms you’ve listed.. Maybe if you stayed a few years, or went to Fordham at night while you work.

Go Nats!

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Re: Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby Go Nats! » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:36 pm

This is a horrible idea. Becoming a paralegal will not be a major point in your favor into getting into a great law school or being picked as a summer associate in your 1L year at a top firm. The things that will do that are a great LSAT and great 1L grades. Taking this job will distract from you succeeding that first goal and have a minimal benefit. Stay home and study your butt off so you get a great LSAT score. That's all you really need to focus on. If you were doing this to get more life experience, as the above poster says, then I'd be for it. But that's not what's happening here.

For the record, I did have someone who was a paralegal to NYC biglaw who was in the same law school section with me. She had a great score, so it worked out for her. The key difference is that she chose to being a paralegal as a life career first and then decided to go to law school. You're doing this primarily in an effort to enhance your chances into getting into a great law school and that's not worth it.

yuppitsme

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Re: Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby yuppitsme » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:43 pm

1) Commuting by car would be extraordinarily cost prohibitive because you'd need to pay for parking which blows in NYC. Additionally, traffic.
Commuting by train from CT or the Hudson Valley isnt so bad. I actually did some studying on the train before I moved into the city. However, it makes your day a lot longer, and biglaw days can be very long already. Maybe dont commute from NJ because pen station BLOWS.

2) I think its pretty common for paras to be studying for the LSAT. I would wake up early and study and then weekends that I didnt work I would study.

3) I think its just about having someone that can write about you meaningfully. (In NYC thats generally going to be a midlevel or senior associate over a partner.

4) I did biglaw (para work) thinking that I was going to HATE the work but found it way more fun than anticipated, also it was very helpful in terms of saving for law school. (Even living in Manhattan). I also will be going to a firm this summer and am doing completely different work than I came into law school thinking I would want to do. I still maintain my original interests, they have just gotten broader as I have learned more about the law. Not to say that this will happen to you, but its not a bad thing to address with an open mind.

Overal I was really glad that I chose live in NYC before law school and would highly recommend it! Also if you do decide you want to work in biglaw being a para was very helpful in my OCI interviews and callback. We had more to chat about than just law school, and it allowed the interviewer to make the joke "you were a para and you STILL want to be a lawyer?!"

**edit for clarity
Last edited by yuppitsme on Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:44 pm

If you can get a reasonably professional 9-5ish job in your hometown, I would recommend doing that in lieu of biglaw paralegal work. The paralegals at the V5 where I worked had insane schedules (e.g., not sleeping for 24-48 hours at a time), and studying under those conditions would be very difficult. I also second the other commenter's point about letters of recommendation--to the extent that they matter much at all, admissions offices will typically care more about the content of the letter than the identity of the author. And I don't think they matter all that much in any case.

What will matter a great deal, however, is your LSAT score. If you get a low LSAT score because you didn't have enough time to study, the fact that a biglaw partner is one of your recommenders will not save you (unless, perhaps, he/she is personal friends with the admissions officer and goes to bat for you). But if you get a very high LSAT score, the fact that your recommenders are office managers from the Midwest will not stop good law schools from accepting you.

For reference, I was a paralegal at a small plaintiff's firm in a mid-sized southern city before law school. I had no Ivy ties, and I can assure you the law schools I applied to had never heard of my recommenders or of the offices where they worked. I was accepted at top schools (including HYS) because I had a very high LSAT score, and the reason I had a very high LSAT score is that I was able to spend several months studying without the stress of biglaw-style hours. Some people manage to do well on the LSAT with little preparation, but I'm not one of those people (and I think that's true of most people).

Also, I can't imagine commuting by car in and out of Manhattan every day. That would be highly unusual and a logistical nightmare for many reasons (parking likely being at the top of the list). But if you were willing to make a long commute, I'd try to pick a place in NJ or CT that's within walking distance of public transport (train/bus) into Manhattan.

Anonymous User wrote:Hi all,

I am looking for some help with a decision that I have to make soon, and would love some of your opinions.

I recently graduated from university, and I am preparing slowly for the LSAT. With that said, I did not participate in my university's OCI as an UG for various reasons, and after graduating I am currently unemployed (not panicking yet). However, In the last couple months I have been mass applying everywhere locally and nationally for all types of office and legal assistant positions and I got a little bit lucky with an interview coming up at a V10 Biglaw firm in NYC.

However, despite landing an interview, the main problem that I face is that if I was given an offer to take the position, I would have to move to NYC from the Midwest. Such a move seems difficult because I have no ties in NYC, the 40k salary (and bonuses) do not justify the high COL, and the hours and OT might prevent me from adequately preparing for the LSAT. If I lived at home with parents and snagged a FT job I could save up money, study, and assist the family with various things.

But, coming from a top public national university with no ivy league ties (and no connections to anyone anywhere), this position seems like it will be a gift from god lol, and blowing this off to stay comfortable at home while studying for the LSAT seems to be a huge mistake. I discussed this with my parents, and they both explained that while this is a great chance to get out and start my young professional life, there will be no financial support for moving or anything of that matter. This is totally fine, but it does make me wonder about what is the next step to take. Look for local jobs, stay home, save money and study? Or go get some Biglaw experience, make some connections, work my ass off, and hope for the best?

With regards to living in NYC, here are a few questions I am pondering:

1) Would living outside NYC and commuting by car (I own a car) every day be doable (salary wise and time wise?). I commuted to UG via Amtrak for one year which entailed a 3-4 hour round trip depending on weather etc. And I would have no problem living in CT, NJ, SI, or anywhere and driving so long as its affordable on the salary I am on.

2) The work/life balance as a paralegal in a V10 in relations to studying for the LSAT: how hard of a balancing act would this be?

3) Connections: Is there a difference between getting recommendation for law school from someone at a V10 firm over some office manager in X Midwest city, or some Y lawyer from a personal injury shop?

4) I also wanted to say that after doing some research on different practice areas within law, I find plaintiff/tort/class action litigation intriguing me the most, and is why I am interested in going to law school. Biglaw is not something I aspire to go into, but the position to get your foot into the door and assist on some top notch legal work seems too good to turn down.


I would love to hear some tips, opinions, or wisdom from all of you!

GeneralFile(s)

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Re: Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby GeneralFile(s) » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:07 pm

I was a biglaw paralegal in a non-nyc major market right out of college for 2 years and work in NYC biglaw now. I would only recommend this job if you specifically want to see how a biglaw firm operates and the work life of the associates first hand before you decide if you want to go law school and whether to target biglaw during your 2L.

Otherwise any other job before going to law school is going to be a better decision in my opinion. The work is not going to be interesting and you are very unlikely to learn anything legal that will be relevant to law school or your future practice. You will get no special bonus in law school applications or during OCI for having been a big law paralegal over working any other job before law school. All you will gain is some insight into how biglaw firms are to work at from the inside and basic work skills.

If you know you want to be a lawyer and you know you dont want biglaw, dont take the job.

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Re: Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:08 pm

OP here, wow so many response with so many different views and opinions. This is awesome keep them coming!

Anonymous User wrote:3. You can easily find affordable living arrangements in the city. You'll have very little space, and will likely need to have at least one roommate. But it's doable. Depending on where your firm is located, you may wish to consider housing in Brooklyn, Queens, or Jersey City/Hoboken (on the PATH).


Yes! thank you for these locations, I will look around and see what I can find! I wonder how prevalent rats and roaches are around these areas lol.

Npret wrote:1. Because traffic in NYC is insane and parking will cost a fortune.

It may be worth doing this to help you solidify your interest in law. How much it will help with your future, I’m not sure.

Your LSAT is far more important in admissions than any LOR. Getting into a top school at a good price is the best way to get into the kind of jobs you might want. I’m not sure how much paralegal experience will help you with employment over grades or schools, but I admit I know nothing about employment at the firms you’ve listed.. Maybe if you stayed a few years, or went to Fordham at night while you work.


Solidifying my interest in law is something I want to do, but at you mentioned, how much will it help in my future? I have no Idea.

Go Nats! wrote:This is a horrible idea. Taking this job will distract from you succeeding that first goal and have a minimal benefit. Stay home and study your butt off so you get a great LSAT score. That's all you really need to focus on. If you were doing this to get more life experience, as the above poster says, then I'd be for it. But that's not what's happening here.


Thank you Nats for this reply, bolded is what I am concerned about, and I am leaning towards staying put and studying.

yuppitsme wrote:1) Commuting by car would be extraordinarily cost prohibitive because you'd need to pay for parking which blows in NYC. Additionally, traffic.
Commuting by train from CT or the Hudson Valley isnt so bad. I actually did some studying on the train before I moved into the city. However, it makes your day a lot longer, and biglaw days can be very long already. Maybe dont commute from NJ because pen station BLOWS.

Overal I was really glad that I chose live in NYC before law school and would highly recommend it! Also if you do decide you want to work in biglaw being a para was very helpful in my OCI interviews and callback. We had more to chat about than just law school, and it allowed the interviewer to make the joke "you were a para and you STILL want to be a lawyer?!"


Thanks for the comment Yup, your experience paints a different perspective that I will take into consideration. And my commuting by car question is taking a beating. I thought you can save more money living outside of NYC and then use that money for parking etc. But I guess this is a really bad idea according to TLS

Anonymous User wrote: Some people manage to do well on the LSAT with little preparation, but I'm not one of those people (and I think that's true of most people).


Hi anon, your overall response was well put and quoted is what stood out. I feel related to your pre-law school position. I personally feel I need to take as much preparation as I can with the LSAT and I feel like studying while commuting for a test like that would not be adequate. I did a commute to my UG for one year which was not bad, but the commute on top of studying on the train was hell (and the commuting aspect was a circumstance that arose out of necessity, and not by choice).

GeneralFile(s) wrote:I was a biglaw paralegal in a non-nyc major market right out of college for 2 years and work in NYC biglaw now. I would only recommend this job if you specifically want to see how a biglaw firm operates and the work life of the associates first hand before you decide if you want to go law school and whether to target biglaw during your 2L.

Otherwise any other job before going to law school is going to be a better decision in my opinion. The work is not going to be interesting and you are very unlikely to learn anything legal that will be relevant to law school or your future practice. You will get no special bonus in law school applications or during OCI for having been a big law paralegal over working any other job before law school. All you will gain is some insight into how biglaw firms are to work at from the inside and basic work skills.

If you know you want to be a lawyer and you know you dont want biglaw, dont take the job.


General, this was a strong reply. Out of curiosity, say I forgo this paralegal offer but later go to law school and find out I want biglaw, could I not experience the amazingness that is biglaw during my 2L summer?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby QContinuum » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:General, this was a strong reply. Out of curiosity, say I forgo this paralegal offer but later go to law school and find out I want biglaw, could I not experience the amazingness that is biglaw during my 1L summer?

You shouldn't count on landing a 1L SA position - they're relatively rare, even from the T14, and the positions there are are mostly for diverse candidates. (Different firms define "diverse" differently; overall, the definition tends to be broader than the definition of URMs for law school admissions purposes, but you obviously wouldn't be a diverse candidate if you're a straight white male.)

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Re: Moving to NYC for Biglaw Paralegal Position?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:39 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:General, this was a strong reply. Out of curiosity, say I forgo this paralegal offer but later go to law school and find out I want biglaw, could I not experience the amazingness that is biglaw during my 1L summer?

You shouldn't count on landing a 1L SA position - they're relatively rare, even from the T14, and the positions there are are mostly for diverse candidates. (Different firms define "diverse" differently; overall, the definition tends to be broader than the definition of URMs for law school admissions purposes, but you obviously wouldn't be a diverse candidate if you're a straight white male.)


OP here, *Edited to 2L*, but then again there is no guarantee on that either. Thanks for the clarification!



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