Paralegal

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BasketCaseBrief
Posts: 50
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:52 pm

Paralegal

Postby BasketCaseBrief » Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:30 pm

I won't be attending law school until at least Fall 2011. Currently I'm working in social services, but in the meantime, I've been considering for a while becoming a Paralegal. I have zero experience actually working in a law firm or doing paralegal work, so I've also considered getting a Paralegal certificate, in addition to the BA I already have. The place I plan on earning the certificate also offers courses on law school preparation, similar to the CLEO thing.

Is it better to do it in conventional classroom experience, or online? And, what are some best online schools to earn it?

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Drake014
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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:22 pm

Re: Paralegal

Postby Drake014 » Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:32 pm

BasketCaseBrief wrote:I won't be attending law school until at least Fall 2011. Currently I'm working in social services, but in the meantime, I've been considering for a while becoming a Paralegal. I have zero experience actually working in a law firm or doing paralegal work, so I've also considered getting a Paralegal certificate, in addition to the BA I already have. The place I plan on earning the certificate also offers courses on law school preparation, similar to the CLEO thing.

Is it better to do it in conventional classroom experience, or online? And, what are some best online schools to earn it?


I'd look into the paralegal job market first unless you have connections. You might be getting a certificate that cost money but doesn't make you any.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Paralegal

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:37 pm

Drake014 wrote:
BasketCaseBrief wrote:I won't be attending law school until at least Fall 2011. Currently I'm working in social services, but in the meantime, I've been considering for a while becoming a Paralegal. I have zero experience actually working in a law firm or doing paralegal work, so I've also considered getting a Paralegal certificate, in addition to the BA I already have. The place I plan on earning the certificate also offers courses on law school preparation, similar to the CLEO thing.

Is it better to do it in conventional classroom experience, or online? And, what are some best online schools to earn it?


I'd look into the paralegal job market first unless you have connections. You might be getting a certificate that cost money but doesn't make you any.



+1

I have heard that a lot of paralegal programs don't really help at all, and I have had no problems getting offers from law firms with only my BA. Search around before you decide to dive in and pay for more school.

ughOSU
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:42 pm

Re: Paralegal

Postby ughOSU » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Drake014 wrote:
BasketCaseBrief wrote:I won't be attending law school until at least Fall 2011. Currently I'm working in social services, but in the meantime, I've been considering for a while becoming a Paralegal. I have zero experience actually working in a law firm or doing paralegal work, so I've also considered getting a Paralegal certificate, in addition to the BA I already have. The place I plan on earning the certificate also offers courses on law school preparation, similar to the CLEO thing.

Is it better to do it in conventional classroom experience, or online? And, what are some best online schools to earn it?


I'd look into the paralegal job market first unless you have connections. You might be getting a certificate that cost money but doesn't make you any.



+1

I have heard that a lot of paralegal programs don't really help at all, and I have had no problems getting offers from law firms with only my BA. Search around before you decide to dive in and pay for more school.

Paralegal jobs are tough to find right now, and you don't need a certificate to become a paralegal. Look into it more. The quality of the institution you get it from will matter far less than your networking ability, the institution's location, and your connections.

deathviaboredom
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Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:21 pm

Re: Paralegal

Postby deathviaboredom » Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:24 am

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Last edited by deathviaboredom on Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ziggysmarley
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Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:37 am

Re: Paralegal

Postby ziggysmarley » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:50 pm

Prepare a cover letter + resume. In the cover letter, explain why you'll be a good paralegal even though you don't have prior legal experience (e.g. you're good at research and writing, well organized, good with handling multiple deadlines, etc). Send materials by email to every firm in NYC, even if they don't have paralegal listings on their websites.

Try your undergraduate career services office.

Try the friends and family market (i.e. see if anyone you know knows any attorneys, then ask your contacts for brief "informational interviews" over coffee re: working at a law firm, different areas of law, going to law school, etc... then in a roundabout way inquire about hiring).

Try temp agencies (especially legal staffing agencies as it will give you pertinent experience and might lead to a full time job).

I'm sure there are other avenues that you can try. But, to echo other people in this thread, you're probably going to need a lot of luck to land a paralegal job in NYC right now. The major firms laid off thousands of legal support staffers over the past year, which means that there are a lot of people with experience who are looking for those same jobs that you are applying to... so good luck.

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Massimiliano
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Re: Paralegal

Postby Massimiliano » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:00 pm

A word to the wise: I spent 3 months job hunting for a paralegal position in Boston over the summer, immediately following graduation. My strategies included sending out hundreds of resumes to law firms seeking paralegals (both experienced and inexperienced), sending physical mail to law firms that did not offer a specific position, hitting up my school's alumni network (totally useless), trying to network through my brother who is a Boston lawyer, having coffee with lawyers who were friends of friends, and going through temp agencies.

After 3 months, I landed one interview at Skadden (huge firm with dozens of domestic and international offices) for a position that wasn't technically a paralegal, but close enough. I did this by maintaining close contact with a recruiter at a direct-hire company (like a temp agency, only for permanent employment) who had placed multiple candidates at Skadden. My first interview was with some HR people which was quite a success, but they ended up hiring someone with 10 years of litigation experience. A month later, they called me back in to meet with another dude for a second interview. I had already relocated to a more affordable city but made the trip to Boston by bus. At some point in the interview I said something wrong and I found out within 48 hours that Skadden shot me down.

Easily one of the greatest failures of my life. Not saying recent grads can't score good paralegal jobs, but I sure as hell didn't. It was a blessing in disguise -- I'm prepping like mad for the LSAT and going for the real thing.

Pearalegal
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Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:50 am

Re: Paralegal

Postby Pearalegal » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:02 pm

I'm a paralegal at a huge firm, and absolutely no certificate or experience.

Certificates only come into play once you become a specialized paralegal. You will not become one of those without a few years under your belt. Or at least, you shouldn't.

ughOSU
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:42 pm

Re: Paralegal

Postby ughOSU » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:00 pm

Pearalegal wrote:I'm a paralegal at a huge firm, and absolutely no certificate or experience.

Certificates only come into play once you become a specialized paralegal. You will not become one of those without a few years under your belt. Or at least, you shouldn't.

yea, don't get the certificate if you're not at least considering it as a career. When I graduated (08) the big nyc firms had 2 year paralegal programs for recent graduates. I had a couple interviews, but at that point I wasn't a great interviewer and got shot down at Weil and Skadden (blessing in disguise). I then graduated and spent the next couple months blanketing firms in a relatively large secondary market where I was living. I got absolutely nowhere with this. It was beyond a waste of time. Big firms in secondary markets do not have paralegal programs for recent grads. There isn't the renewable wealth of talent that there is in nyc, so if you want a job in a secondary market you will probably need to at least pretend you want it as a career. Eventually I called a family friend who is the principal partner at a firm and he offered me a job within a week.

ITE I have no idea how legal hiring is going, but I would guess paralegal jobs everywhere are difficult to get.

rote777
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Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:03 pm

Re: Paralegal

Postby rote777 » Sat Dec 19, 2009 7:30 pm

I've been a paralegal for a decade and will start law school in Fall 2010. I also teach paralegal certification exam classes.
A certificate can help, but isn't worth getting until you've got a couple years under your belt.
To get certified, you typically:
- take a paralegal program at a college that gives you a certificate at the end of the program,
- go straight to a certifying group (like NALA), and take a paralegal exam prep course through your local bar association (this requires experience, typically), and test. (The test is surprisingly difficult.)

My certification does help me find jobs and beat other applicants. I haven't been unemployed ever, just changed jobs when life dictated it (moves, etc.). My paralegal work experience did NOT help me get into law school and won't improve my ability with legal theory taught in law school. In fact, many of the admissions folks cautioned me that most lawyers still don't understand what paralegals do and look at us like glorified secretaries. Eventhough I already write briefs/memoranda, do legal research, and more (all under attorney supervision of course), many attorneys don't realize what paralegals are allowed to do (with attorney supervision, of course).
My experience definitely helped me decide whether to commit to the legal profession. After seeing the worst of the worst, I'm still excited about law school (but have NO plans to go after biglaw jobs after all I've seen - it just isn't worth it to me).

GOOD LUCK!

ughOSU
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:42 pm

Re: Paralegal

Postby ughOSU » Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:11 am

rote777 wrote:most lawyers still don't understand what paralegals do and look at us like glorified secretaries.

This is so frustratingly true. I recently had a Harvard Law grad working at a V20 ask me "so what is it that paralegals actually do?"




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