Paralegal Jobs?

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cynthiad
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Paralegal Jobs?

Postby cynthiad » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:47 pm

So I'm a senior in UG considering doing a two-year stint as a paralegal to see if I want to go to law school. I've received a lot of conflicting advice about this. An attorney I know said I should look for a job in a small/midsize firm b/c there will be more substantive work and I'll get more experience, but I also talked to a former paralegal who worked in a couple of biglaw firms and said she was doing some first-year associate level work and loved her time there. I'm based in NYC now and prefer to stay but would be OK with moving. Do smaller firms even hire paralegals w/o cert or law firm experience? Has anyone done a paralegal job like this, and do you have advice? Also, does anyone have an idea of how hard these kinds of jobs are to get?

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scifiguy
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby scifiguy » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:43 pm

I just started looking into this about a week ago.

I think smaller firms are harder to get a paralegal job in w/o certification. I'm a philosophy major with English minor and don't have paralegal certification. My college doesn't offer either. We have a law school, but no undergrad or like professional program for that certification.

I could be wrong (please plase correct me if so!!!), but I'm finding that a lot of ads for paralegal positions want that certification when it is for small law firms. It's totally weird, because I was thinking it'd be completely the opposite.

I figured those big law firms would want to see that you're certified, but it actually looks the opposite from what I'm seeing. People who work in NYC big law firms as paralegals seem to have only a BA. You can browse people's resumes online at http://www.Indeed.com. That's where I've looked to sort of check out the competition for jobs if you will.

But I"m in the same boat about wanting to consider a few years of paralegal work myself to see if I'd even want to do law school. It seems like a good way to both get work exp. and also see what law is like w/o the major commitment of attending law school right out of teh gate from UG.

The only thing is that I'm not sure how easy it is to get a paralegal job nowadays. Is it worth it even getting the certification? Anyone know how much it costs?

T14hoping
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby T14hoping » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:58 pm

From what I understand, with big firms that offer positions to BAs, you aren't a paralegal or legal assistant per se. I think it's technically called "project assistant," and from what I've been able to peruse, it's generally a job for a couple of years before you go to law school to become an attorney (or maybe stay on and become a legal assistant).

With smaller firms, they're generally looking for career type paralegals with certificates and whatnot who have no intention of leaving for law school.

Again, this is just what I've been able to gather on my own as a senior in UG looking at these jobs. Maybe someone with actual experience might be able to clear up the details.

cynthiad
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby cynthiad » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:18 pm

T14hoping wrote:From what I understand, with big firms that offer positions to BAs, you aren't a paralegal or legal assistant per se. I think it's technically called "project assistant," and from what I've been able to peruse, it's generally a job for a couple of years before you go to law school to become an attorney (or maybe stay on and become a legal assistant).

With smaller firms, they're generally looking for career type paralegals with certificates and whatnot who have no intention of leaving for law school.

Again, this is just what I've been able to gather on my own as a senior in UG looking at these jobs. Maybe someone with actual experience might be able to clear up the details.


From what I can tell (by looking at stuff posted on my cd website and elsewhere) the job title is totally random and depends on the firm. Some firms hire "paralegals" out of UG, for some it's "legal assistants," and sometimes it's something else entirely like "project analyst" or like you said "project assistant." The job descriptions are basically the same. I think part of it is that only big firms have the resources to set up programs to train paralegals, rather than hiring ones who've done programs? Maybe it's also the prestige thing, like "all our paralegals are Ivy grads." Or maybe paralegal life in biglaw that people leave after a few years anyway, so this way they can spin it as a positive: "our paralegals all go on to awesome law/grad schools" vs "our paralegals mostly burn out after two years." I have no idea what the reality is, that's why I'm trying to get advice from someone who's worked as a paralegal.

cynthiad
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby cynthiad » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:20 pm

scifiguy wrote:I just started looking into this about a week ago.

I think smaller firms are harder to get a paralegal job in w/o certification. I'm a philosophy major with English minor and don't have paralegal certification. My college doesn't offer either. We have a law school, but no undergrad or like professional program for that certification.

I could be wrong (please plase correct me if so!!!), but I'm finding that a lot of ads for paralegal positions want that certification when it is for small law firms. It's totally weird, because I was thinking it'd be completely the opposite.

I figured those big law firms would want to see that you're certified, but it actually looks the opposite from what I'm seeing. People who work in NYC big law firms as paralegals seem to have only a BA. You can browse people's resumes online at http://www.Indeed.com. That's where I've looked to sort of check out the competition for jobs if you will.

But I"m in the same boat about wanting to consider a few years of paralegal work myself to see if I'd even want to do law school. It seems like a good way to both get work exp. and also see what law is like w/o the major commitment of attending law school right out of teh gate from UG.

The only thing is that I'm not sure how easy it is to get a paralegal job nowadays. Is it worth it even getting the certification? Anyone know how much it costs?


From the research I've done, cert is only required in places like California, where it's a legal requirement. The big problem I've run into looking for job listings in places other than cd is that they all require experience.

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Lwoods
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby Lwoods » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:06 am

I was a BigLaw legal secretary in NY right out of college. Of course, I wasn't called a legal secretary because they app have different titles, as do the different types of paralegals.

At my former firm, there are two levels of paralegals: career and entry-level. The entry-level report to the career paralegals, not attorneys. The work is not so great, overtime is required when the project(s) demand, and the base pay is pretty low for NY.

The secretaries are both career and entry-level, and they all work directly for attorneys. Almost all work with at least one partner. Some work is clerical, naturally, but the bulk is more document related (particularly for the entry-level secretaries as career secretaries tend to be far better than entry level at phones, scheduling, etc.). Overtime is readily available but completely voluntary. Entry-level secretaries also start out at $10k more in salary than entry-level paralegals.

If you're looking for an entry-level BigLaw job, keep an open mind to secretary positions, too. I kind of fell into it but had a great experience. As for figuring out all the titles, just look for listings with "assistant" in the title and check the requirements.

Best of luck in your job searches!

cynthiad
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby cynthiad » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:49 am

Lwoods wrote:I was a BigLaw legal secretary in NY right out of college. Of course, I wasn't called a legal secretary because they app have different titles, as do the different types of paralegals.

At my former firm, there are two levels of paralegals: career and entry-level. The entry-level report to the career paralegals, not attorneys. The work is not so great, overtime is required when the project(s) demand, and the base pay is pretty low for NY.

The secretaries are both career and entry-level, and they all work directly for attorneys. Almost all work with at least one partner. Some work is clerical, naturally, but the bulk is more document related (particularly for the entry-level secretaries as career secretaries tend to be far better than entry level at phones, scheduling, etc.). Overtime is readily available but completely voluntary. Entry-level secretaries also start out at $10k more in salary than entry-level paralegals.

If you're looking for an entry-level BigLaw job, keep an open mind to secretary positions, too. I kind of fell into it but had a great experience. As for figuring out all the titles, just look for listings with "assistant" in the title and check the requirements.

Best of luck in your job searches!


Thank you, that's really helpful! Do you know what the approx starting salaries for paralegals and secretaries are? Entry level with a BA? Thanks!
Last edited by cynthiad on Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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gavinstevens
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby gavinstevens » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:00 am

cynthiad wrote:
Lwoods wrote:I was a BigLaw legal secretary in NY right out of college. Of course, I wasn't called a legal secretary because they app have different titles, as do the different types of paralegals.

At my former firm, there are two levels of paralegals: career and entry-level. The entry-level report to the career paralegals, not attorneys. The work is not so great, overtime is required when the project(s) demand, and the base pay is pretty low for NY.

The secretaries are both career and entry-level, and they all work directly for attorneys. Almost all work with at least one partner. Some work is clerical, naturally, but the bulk is more document related (particularly for the entry-level secretaries as career secretaries tend to be far better than entry level at phones, scheduling, etc.). Overtime is readily available but completely voluntary. Entry-level secretaries also start out at $10k more in salary than entry-level paralegals.

If you're looking for an entry-level BigLaw job, keep an open mind to secretary positions, too. I kind of fell into it but had a great experience. As for figuring out all the titles, just look for listings with "assistant" in the title and check the requirements.

Best of luck in your job searches!


Thank you, that's really helpful! Do you know what the approx starting salaries for paralegals and secretaries? Entry level with a BA? Thanks!


I've seen $42K in NYC and $30-35 in secondary markets (for case/project/legal assistant type jobs at Vault firms).

CanadianWolf
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:04 am

DC biglaw paralegals start with a base salary in the 40s & often earn substantial overtime pay that results in total cash compensation in the mid-50s. Some smaller boutique firms in California pay a higher base salary.

doing_it_in_a_car
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby doing_it_in_a_car » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:32 am

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=170799

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=183121

I know a lot of paralegals at biglaw firms (V10 - V100) hired right after undergrad and none of them have paralegal certificates.

This is just my opinion but I think there are plenty of paralegal jobs out there - they often do the same work as associates but cost the firm substantially less than an associate.

I am currently an entry level paralegal at a mid size firm, only have a bachelors - feel free to pm me and ask anything you'd like to know.

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gavinstevens
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby gavinstevens » Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:56 am

doing_it_in_a_car wrote:This is just my opinion but I think there are plenty of paralegal jobs out there - they often do the same work as associates but cost the firm substantially less than an associate.

I am currently an entry level paralegal at a mid size firm, only have a bachelors - feel free to pm me and ask anything you'd like to know.


There are also paralegals who do strictly clerical work. Hopefully you get lucky and land something like the above.

cynthiad
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby cynthiad » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:54 pm

So what's the best way to answer these question in an interview:

Why do you want to be a paralegal?
and
Do you plan to go to law school?
I mean, I don't have a burning desire to be a paralegal, but there isn't some other job that I have always dreamed of. Basically, I want to be a paralegal because
1- I'd really like to have a job that pays me enough money to survive
2- I think it would give me an idea of whether I actually would like being a lawyer
3- I don't mind any of the downsides of paralegal work, like long hours and potentially a lot of clerical work
As for law school, the answer is a big "Maybe"
These answers seem way too wishy-washy to give in an interview

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gavinstevens
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby gavinstevens » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:16 pm

cynthiad wrote:So what's the best way to answer these question in an interview:

Why do you want to be a paralegal?
and
Do you plan to go to law school?
I mean, I don't have a burning desire to be a paralegal, but there isn't some other job that I have always dreamed of. Basically, I want to be a paralegal because
1- I'd really like to have a job that pays me enough money to survive
2- I think it would give me an idea of whether I actually would like being a lawyer
3- I don't mind any of the downsides of paralegal work, like long hours and potentially a lot of clerical work
As for law school, the answer is a big "Maybe"
These answers seem way too wishy-washy to give in an interview


I found that para interviews usually revolved around the interviewer trying to see if you can grind through menial work day-to-day. In my experience, they tried also to gauge whether I could tolerate all of the compulsive and perfectionist behavior that firms breed/attract.

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paratactical
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby paratactical » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:52 pm

If you're looking for two-year term entry-level law firm work in NYC, you should go through legal hiring agencies. They will help you with your interview questions, your resume, and will get you the interviews. It is not easy to get into a real firm in a city as big as NYC without an agency. Totally possible, but really hard and not very likely. Look at Delta Legal, Atrium, and Filcro.

legalopinion03
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Re: Paralegal Jobs?

Postby legalopinion03 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:53 am

SPAM.




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