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 Post subject: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 12:22 am 
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Hey All!

So I graduated from UVA (GPA around a 3.6) in May and I still can't find a job. I think I have an excellent resume (volunteer work, editor-in-chief of a major paper at UVA, etc) I have been applying everywhere (even temp agencies) and I have not heard back from any firm. I'll basically send my resume to whatever online job posting sites (craigslist, yahoo, usajobs, moster, idealist, etc) I have had a good two interviews for all my efforts but no job offers.

I really, really, want a job... I need help....any advice to give me???

BTW, I'm based in DC.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 1:08 am 
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Did you get your certificate? Paralegal jobs are similar to most jobs in this economy in that they are difficult to come by. Without experience its tough to land a job, and without a formal cert. it appears impossible.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:27 am 
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I know these posts are from the real hell of ITE, but does the same hold true today?

I'm graduating in May and am just beginning to look into paralegal positions for next year. Anyone have some concise tips? I've searched the forums, and it seems like there are quite a few conflicting opinions (it is TLS after all, haha), so I would appreciate hearing from people with recent experience pursuing post-UG paralegal jobs, especially at large firms in New York, Boston, or DC.

I will (fingers crossed) graduate with 4.0, good references, honors thesis, and lots of other softs from a decent Southern public. I have a summer's worth of experience in a contracts office and did an internship at a local DA in high school (and realize that is forever ago). Also, I've seen some people mention putting their LSAT score on their paralegal resume. That seems kind of weird to me. Any opinions? I have a 168 currently if that makes any difference.

TIA!


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:10 am 
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Last edited by 83947368 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:36 am 
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Adm.Doppleganger wrote:
I work as a paralegal at a firm unlike what you just described. We have one attorney who worked for BigLaw in NYC but he had pretty good grades from Princeton and this was probably like 2006 or 2007.

When I was looking for paralegal jobs a few months ago there were probably one or two openings a month that didn't explicitly ask for a tleast 1-5 years of experience. This was the Bay Area/Silicon Valley though, so it might be different in NYC or DC. And the BigLaw firms I contacted ignored me entirely, because they were looking for five years of experience too.

I'd guess it's pretty hard still but definitely possible if you're not tied up on the prestige of the firm.


Yeah, I'm not tied up on prestige, but from the limited amount of searching I've done, I'm getting a little better vibe from NYC BigLaw because some firms do have programs aimed at recent grads. I've heard that non-NYC offices typically like people to have more direct legal experience. Thanks for the response!


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:06 pm 
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Mass mail to every firm you can find in your city or nearby cities.

Keep this experience in mind. Law grads are not having any easier time finding work / the law degree won't be much help in the field.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:37 pm 
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Take mine when I leave this summer.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:48 pm 
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AS33 wrote:
Take mine when I leave this summer.


Haha, not enjoying it much? NYC?


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:00 pm 
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Ialdabaoth wrote:
AS33 wrote:
Take mine when I leave this summer.


Haha, not enjoying it much? NYC?


No, DC. I'm just antsy to go back to school!


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:25 pm 
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1) Since a lot of paralegals end up going to law school, the vast majority of openings appear in may/june as paralegals leave in time to prepare/relax before school. From my experience, firms start anticipating this turnover and do the majority of interviews and hiring between february and april. Anytime outside of this is going to be difficult.

2) If you're looking at biglaw firms (which are the only paralegal salaries that make it even worth it), keep in mind that grades and prestige are still an issue for paralegal hiring despite the fact that monkeys could do the work. A 3.6 should be fine, but they'll still prefer to take someone with a 3.7. Also, if you're coming from podunk university, it's gonna be tough without a really high GPA. Again, UVA will be fine. [NOTE: People might disagree with this, I actually know quite a few people with terrible undergrad GPAs who got biglaw paralegal positions, but when I was looking I almost universally saw GPA floors expressed in job requirements, and oftentimes they were at absurd levels like 'at least a 3.5 from an Ivy'. not joking. have fun with that.]

3) Connections will help. I got 90% of my interviews (and my job) from connections. Family, friends, classmates...any connections to lawyers through them? In my experience, passing along a resume for a paralegal position makes very few attorneys feel like they're doing anyone a 'favor', and it takes two seconds, so even if it's someone you barely have a connection to, it might help.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:48 pm 
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sanetruth wrote:
1) Since a lot of paralegals end up going to law school, the vast majority of openings appear in may/june as paralegals leave in time to prepare/relax before school. From my experience, firms start anticipating this turnover and do the majority of interviews and hiring between february and april. Anytime outside of this is going to be difficult.

2) If you're looking at biglaw firms (which are the only paralegal salaries that make it even worth it), keep in mind that grades and prestige are still an issue for paralegal hiring despite the fact that monkeys could do the work. A 3.6 should be fine, but they'll still prefer to take someone with a 3.7. Also, if you're coming from podunk university, it's gonna be tough without a really high GPA. Again, UVA will be fine. [NOTE: People might disagree with this, I actually know quite a few people with terrible undergrad GPAs who got biglaw paralegal positions, but when I was looking I almost universally saw GPA floors expressed in job requirements, and oftentimes they were at absurd levels like 'at least a 3.5 from an Ivy'. not joking. have fun with that.]

3) Connections will help. I got 90% of my interviews (and my job) from connections. Family, friends, classmates...any connections to lawyers through them? In my experience, passing along a resume for a paralegal position makes very few attorneys feel like they're doing anyone a 'favor', and it takes two seconds, so even if it's someone you barely have a connection to, it might help.


Hi, I'm not the OP but am in a similar situation for this upcoming year. I should graduate with a 4.0 from what I consider to be a pretty decent Southern public university (don't want to disclose here). I know this isn't prestigious, but do you think I should have a decent shot at paralegal positions in Boston or New York?

Also, my main concern is that I will be in this Southern city until at least the end of May, and I'm worried that not being available for physical interviews during the prime paralegal recruiting time will hurt my chances. What's the best strategy here? Send in resumes and cover letters now, or wait until I'm in Boston or New York. There's a high likelihood I'll be in one of these two cities for next year.

Thanks so much for any advice you can offer!


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:01 pm 
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Ialdabaoth wrote:
Hi, I'm not the OP but am in a similar situation for this upcoming year. I should graduate with a 4.0 from what I consider to be a pretty decent Southern public university (don't want to disclose here). I know this isn't prestigious, but do you think I should have a decent shot at paralegal positions in Boston or New York?

Also, my main concern is that I will be in this Southern city until at least the end of May, and I'm worried that not being available for physical interviews during the prime paralegal recruiting time will hurt my chances. What's the best strategy here? Send in resumes and cover letters now, or wait until I'm in Boston or New York. There's a high likelihood I'll be in one of these two cities for next year.

Thanks so much for any advice you can offer!


you'll be fine with a 4.0, but not being available for physical interviews could hurt you. i wouldn't hold off on sending out resumes for this reason, but just FYI, if a lot of people are applying they'll have no problem hiring someone with less impressive credentials just because they could show up for the interview. It will be less of a problem early on when there are lots of spots open, but later on it might be a problem when you're competing for fewer spots.

When I was looking, I was in NYC and got a call on a Wednesday from a V20 in SF asking if i could show up for an interview on Friday. There was no way i could afford a last minute plane ticket, but i also didn't want to tell them that I wasn't physically in SF cause they'd just auto-ding me. So i said i wasn't available and asked if I could come in on tuesday. I scrambled a plane out to the bay, showed up on tuesday and it was clear i was too late. They ran through the motions but it was obvious they had already hired someone in those six days and i missed my chance.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:39 pm 
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In New York, check online postings for jobs and just mail every time one comes up.
You can also work with temp/staffing agencies. I know a number of people who got jobs that way.

Also, consider legal secretary positions. At the V10 where I worked, there are two types of paralegals: career paralegals and recent college grads. The recent college grads make less, sit at a desk and work for the senior/career paralegals. The career paralegals all have many years of experience, make more, and have [internal] offices. The recent college grads make a modest salary but get overtime. I believe they have very little say in their overtime, pretty much have to do it if the work demands.
However, the legal secretaries fresh out of college make a base salary of, I believe, $10k more than the entry-level paralegals. They work directly with attorneys and while some of the work is less substantive (answering phones, scheduling meetings), there's a good deal that's more substantive (drafting cover letters, revising agreements, interacting with clients). Also, the overtime was always available if I wanted it, but never required if I didn't. I found the attorneys who prefer the younger, fresh college grad secretaries tended to give more substantive work whereas those who want their secretary to be calendar masters usually prefer the older, career secretaries.
Every firm is going to be slightly different, of course, but I just wanted to make you guys aware of what legal secretaries actually do and offer that as a viable option as well. A good personality and an open mind can go a long way in a job hunt, but if you want specifically legal work, it's worth looking into.

Also, even in 2006, my former firm had rather high standards for the fresh college grads. The secretaries I know came from Cornell, Columbia, NYU and Howard undergrad. The paralegals came from more middle-of-the-road schools.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:45 pm 
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Lwoods wrote:
In New York, check online postings for jobs and just mail every time one comes up.
You can also work with temp/staffing agencies. I know a number of people who got jobs that way.

Also, consider legal secretary positions. At the V10 where I worked, there are two types of paralegals: career paralegals and recent college grads. The recent college grads make less, sit at a desk and work for the senior/career paralegals. The career paralegals all have many years of experience, make more, and have [internal] offices. The recent college grads make a modest salary but get overtime. I believe they have very little say in their overtime, pretty much have to do it if the work demands.
However, the legal secretaries fresh out of college make a base salary of, I believe, $10k more than the entry-level paralegals. They work directly with attorneys and while some of the work is less substantive (answering phones, scheduling meetings), there's a good deal that's more substantive (drafting cover letters, revising agreements, interacting with clients). Also, the overtime was always available if I wanted it, but never required if I didn't. I found the attorneys who prefer the younger, fresh college grad secretaries tended to give more substantive work whereas those who want their secretary to be calendar masters usually prefer the older, career secretaries.
Every firm is going to be slightly different, of course, but I just wanted to make you guys aware of what legal secretaries actually do and offer that as a viable option as well. A good personality and an open mind can go a long way in a job hunt, but if you want specifically legal work, it's worth looking into.

Also, even in 2006, my former firm had rather high standards for the fresh college grads. The secretaries I know came from Cornell, Columbia, NYU and Howard undergrad. The paralegals came from more middle-of-the-road schools.


Thanks for this info!

One more quick (and possibly dumb) question: When you say "mail" do you mean it's important to mail physical copies of a cover letter and resume? Most of the firm websites I have looked at just say to email them, or they have an actual online application.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:24 pm 
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Ialdabaoth wrote:

One more quick (and possibly dumb) question: When you say "mail" do you mean it's important to mail physical copies of a cover letter and resume? Most of the firm websites I have looked at just say to email them, or they have an actual online application.


Not a stupid question, particularly since I made a typo and meant "email." Follow the instructions on the firm's website. Also, when looking at my former firm's site, I remembered the firm uses different titles for essentially the same position in different cities. So, read the job description, particularly if it's anything other than "legal secretary" or "paralegal."

Good luck! Working at a firm definitely helped me figure out what I want to do (and paid me good money while I did so). I think it's a great idea if you're considering a legal career.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:07 pm 
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Lwoods wrote:
Ialdabaoth wrote:

One more quick (and possibly dumb) question: When you say "mail" do you mean it's important to mail physical copies of a cover letter and resume? Most of the firm websites I have looked at just say to email them, or they have an actual online application.


Not a stupid question, particularly since I made a typo and meant "email." Follow the instructions on the firm's website. Also, when looking at my former firm's site, I remembered the firm uses different titles for essentially the same position in different cities. So, read the job description, particularly if it's anything other than "legal secretary" or "paralegal."

Good luck! Working at a firm definitely helped me figure out what I want to do (and paid me good money while I did so). I think it's a great idea if you're considering a legal career.


Thanks! I had been wondering about the all of the different titles for this general line of work.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:18 pm 
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Former paralegal at a v15 firm in NYC.

The firm does hire people with paralegal certificates, but they are not called "paralegals" at the firm. Instead they're called "case managers" and are treated much differently.

As for paralegals, the firm hires 30-40 college graduates who are thinking about going to law school every year. They are hired for two year "commitments," though no contract is signed. Hiring starts in early January and goes through mid-March, with a few stray hires leading up to the first starting date in June. The majority of the hiring is done at on-campus job fairs during resume drops, with candidates later given a screener on-campus, with a callback at the office in NY. In the past the firm recruited only from the Ivys, and UChi/Northwestern. Those not recruited from on-campus job fairs get the interview through a partner connection.

While this firm has an application page on their website no one ever gets hired through that. I went on a recruiting trip with one of the managers responsible for hiring and she said she's never even seen the resumes that come through the website. So unless you fall into one of the two categories mentioned above, you're out of luck.

I interviewed at a few other firms, Skadden, Cravath, and Schulte, all who had similar programs, though the firm I ended up at seemed to be the most enjoyable of them all.

Anyway, long story short, it's a tough job to get. If you fall into any of those categories mentioned above, start getting a move on it.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:38 pm 
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I got a paralegal job at a midlaw firm in the Financial District in NYC last June. I had been blast emailing all the sites on Craigslist, and lucked out. The only reason I got an interview, I think, was because I went to the same undergrad as the interviewing partner. I got a job similar to what the above poster describes (two year unsigned commitment). Ended up having to turn it down so I could study for the LSAT full time, and regretted it when I started looking for a job again in October. I never got an interview after about two months of emailing cover letters and resumes to every NYC, DC, and Philadelphia paralegal posting I saw.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:53 pm 
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Thanks for your responses! Sounds like I might be SOL though. So you really don't think I'd have a shot coming from a Southern public, even with a 4.0 and good resume? (Not trying to be arrogant in claiming that it would be "good," but I feel fairly confident that I have some good undergrad experience). Anyone around with experience with other firms hiring practices?


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:03 pm 
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Ialdabaoth wrote:
Thanks for your responses! Sounds like I might be SOL though. So you really don't think I'd have a shot coming from a Southern public, even with a 4.0 and good resume? (Not trying to be arrogant in claiming that it would be "good," but I feel fairly confident that I have some good undergrad experience). Anyone around with experience with other firms hiring practices?


Check with your school's office of career services. I got my first job with the firm through a sorority sister who found it through a symplicity posting. I do know others who got jobs through legal staffing agencies and applying directly online, though. There was one girl in my secretary class who came from a Midwest public school without connections (though, as I said above, they tended to hire primarily from Cornell, Columbia and NYU). I can't remember if it was through a staffing agency or direct online application, but it's not hopeless.

Try to see about making connections, though, if you can, and use your OCS.


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 Post subject: Re: Can't Find A Paralegal Job? Advice Please.
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:05 pm 
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First post here, but I've been lurking a while though I think I can help (full disclosure though, I went to one of Columbia, Cornell, NYU for undergrad so that may skew my results, but my GPA is definitely lower than yours). I've been looking for a paralegal job around NYC for a few months now, and the interviews I've gotten successfully definitely came from my school's career services office (as in not Craigslist). I would definitely recommend staffing agencies though. I interviewed with a few of them and, if you're willing to give a two year commitment, they can usually find you a position pretty quickly (my friend got a job the day after she spoke to one of the agencies, and I had a similar offer but it was for a temporary position which wasn't a great fit for me). Some agencies have better firms than others, and some recruiters are nicer than others (some may try to dissuade you from law school plans), but I think it would definitely be doable for you to get a job in NYC!


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