Anonymous User wrote:
For those who have been or currently are paralegals (especially if you've done it at a V5 or V10, or if you have paralegal experience in New York):
What are/were your average hours per week?
What are some missteps you wish you hadn't made on the job, and some things you wish you had done to prepare before starting?
Best part of the job? Worst?
How much did you make, how much was from overtime, and what was your bonus (if any)?
If you were a paralegal in NYC, what sort of neighborhood did you live in? I'm almost definitely living in Manhattan since rents don't really go down VERY fast until you get into neighborhoods that are dangerous, seedy, or too long of a commute. I'm not unfamiliar with Manhattan, but never lived there so I figure people there would know better than I would.
For current or former associates who may see this thread (especially if you're in BigLaw):
What qualities, skills or behaviors do the best paralegals have? And the worst?
Any recommendations you can give me before I begin?
I'm a Biglaw paralegal in NYC right now. I get salaried at just above 40k but with OT I'll make close to double that. My hours vary wildly depending on my work load - I've worked 50 hour weeks (rarely less) and I've worked 80+ hour weeks. IMO, the worst part of the job isn't that the hours are incredibly long so much as they're just really unpredictable. I've had days where I surf reddit until 5:00, when I'm suddenly handed a pile of shit and I'm pulling an all-nighter. Making plans in advance becomes an exercise in futility, and my friends have gotten used to me cancelling at the last minute. It sucks, and puts a definite damper on your social life. It's especially frustrating being in NYC and not being able to experience it because I'm either always working or too exhausted from working to do anything fun.
However, the work I do is actually pretty interesting. A lot of it is tedious and boring, but that's not so bad when you can zone out and put on some music or hulu and relax. Deadlines are often given with very little notice, so I'd take tedious and boring over stressful and hectic (like when a filing deadline is approaching) any day.
Plus, you get some awesome perks from working at a big firm. I get to work with a lot of kids my age, and have met some really cool people. Like another poster pointed out, I get dinner and a car home if I work late. You actually end up saving a LOT of money this way, since I usually end up having the firm pay for dinner at least 2-3 nights per week.
Good paralegals are hard to find and pretty essential to a big law firm, so I receive a fair bit of respect. Don't get me wrong: there's a well defined pecking order in a law firm and paralegals are definitely below any mid-level associate worth his salt. However, unlike our secretaries (which are generally regarded as lazy), our duplicating department (generally regarded as incompetent), the SA's (generally regarded as useless) and the first-years (universally regarded as clueless), associates recognize that our job is hard and often technically challenging and so they treat us more like colleagues than underlings.
The best paralegals all share one quality: attention to detail.
That's really the key that will make or break you. Flexibility and a positive attitude also goes a long way.
Anonymous User wrote:
Thanks for all the replies, guys. Very helpful. God, I want all the OT possibrruuu. Manhattan is awesome and I'm hoping to make enough that I can enjoy the city a lot in the little time I have off (ha) and save a little something on the side.
Last two questions:
1. Are two good suits enough, or three to be safe and not seem like a chump (although I am on the bottom of the totem pole regardless)? It's a V5 and still looks fairly formal.
2. I doubt I'll need an actual briefcase -- is this right or wrong? What sort of office bag should I purchase to look like somebody who is a. professional, respectful of the work environment, and intent on working, and b. not a 22-year old paralegal douche in over his head with a $2000 luxury document carrier. Help me find a balance, doods. Thanks.
Two suits is fine. You really don't need to wear a suit every day if you don't want to. You can, some paras do, but most stick to business casual (nice slacks / shoes and dress shirt). I'd say the biggest difference in dress between paras and associates is that associates wear ties and paras usually don't. The only reason you'll need a suit is if you spend a lot of time in court. I end up going about once a week so I'm happy I have them, but some of my colleagues have never stepped foot in a courtroom.
You don't need a briefcase, you aren't taking work home. Get a messenger bag to shuttle your personal belongings and to use as a carrying case if you have to deliver any documents, but you definitely don't need a briefcase.