Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

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helives316
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Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby helives316 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:30 pm

Hey Guys,

This is my first post here and I'm in need of some serious advice.
I'm a graduating college senior, and I've recently been accepted to TFA, which I consider it to be a great honor. However, after talking with some former corp members and doing some research on my own, I'm not sure if it makes all that much sense to commit to TFA when my heart is somewhere else, like set on applying to law schools, right after those two years end. Would it be more ideal to work as a paralegal during my gap year?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated -- I only have a few days left to decide, and would really like to make sure that I'm making the right decision, not just for myself, but also for the kids as well (they sure do deserve someone who's 100% committed to education, right?)

Thanks!

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residentemma
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby residentemma » Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:40 pm

Hello,

I am a second year TFA corps member and applying to law schools this cycle. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do law school after TFA, and I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing. However, I had reasons for doing TFA beyond just taking a break from school and getting work experience. For example, I wanted to explore whether I wanted to study education law or juvenile law while in law school, and I felt that TFA would give me good insight into these fields. So for me, TFA was a good choice because it will most likely influence my decisions on what kind of law to study and practice. I am also very passionate about education in general, which I think you need to be if you're going to survive TFA (and I barely have :P)

My biggest piece of advice to you is that if your "heart is not in it" in the sense that you aren't really committed to education in general/the TFA cause, then don't do it. You need to be really convicted about education for TFA to be worth it for you, and for the kids you will teach.

However, if you mean your "heart is not in it" because you eventually want to pursue a career in law and not teaching, that's totally fine. Most TFA corps members didn't go into the program to be career teachers, they went in to get teaching experience that will help them in their future careers (most of which are somewhat related to education). So if you think it will help you figure out what you ultimately want to do, it could be the right choice for you.

Hope this helps.

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cron1834
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby cron1834 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:59 pm

Don't half-ass your way through someone else's education. That's what you will happen if your heart isn't in it, you quit after a year, and you have no preexisting connection to the school/students. As a former teacher, I have a number of philosophical objections with TFA generally, but you don't even seem to be that attracted to it individually.

Captainunaccountable
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby Captainunaccountable » Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:00 pm

cron1834 wrote:Don't half-ass your way through someone else's education. That's what you will happen if your heart isn't in it, you quit after a year, and you have no preexisting connection to the school/students. As a former teacher, I have a number of philosophical objections with TFA generally, but you don't even seem to be that attracted to it individually.


I disagree completely with this. IF you want to teach, go teach. It looks great and teachers for TFA give opportunities to kids whom may not have such opportunities without you. However, If you're genuinely not interested in it, don't do it. But I think this would be great for you and if you like kids and like teaching kids, then just muster up some backbone and do it.

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cron1834
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby cron1834 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:05 pm

Captainunaccountable wrote:
cron1834 wrote:Don't half-ass your way through someone else's education. That's what you will happen if your heart isn't in it, you quit after a year, and you have no preexisting connection to the school/students. As a former teacher, I have a number of philosophical objections with TFA generally, but you don't even seem to be that attracted to it individually.


I disagree completely with this. IF you want to teach, go teach. It looks great and teachers for TFA give opportunities to kids whom may not have such opportunities without you. However, If you're genuinely not interested in it, don't do it. But I think this would be great for you and if you like kids and like teaching kids, then just muster up some backbone and do it.


You're just lashing out because you were made to look foolish in the other thread. This is very childish of you. OP specifically stated it wouldn't make much sense because his/her "heart isn't in it." Do you know what a huge red flag that is? You need LOTS of motivation to put in LOTS of unpaid hours in teaching. STFU.

Quit giving terrible advice.

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mist4bison
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby mist4bison » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:17 pm

.
Last edited by mist4bison on Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

asundialwatch
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby asundialwatch » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:02 pm

helives316 wrote:Hey Guys,

This is my first post here and I'm in need of some serious advice.
I'm a graduating college senior, and I've recently been accepted to TFA, which I consider it to be a great honor. However, after talking with some former corp members and doing some research on my own, I'm not sure if it makes all that much sense to commit to TFA when my heart is somewhere else, like set on applying to law schools, right after those two years end. Would it be more ideal to work as a paralegal during my gap year?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated -- I only have a few days left to decide, and would really like to make sure that I'm making the right decision, not just for myself, but also for the kids as well (they sure do deserve someone who's 100% committed to education, right?)

Thanks!

I finished my two years and am teaching my third year. My cycle of apps started this year and I thought TFA was super useful. I really enjoyed the experience and while it's tough, if you're into teaching/education at all I'd say go for it. Do you know where you'd be placed? Where you end up has a big impact on your experience. I always intended to move onto something else, so I think as long as you can commit for a couple years you'll be helping kids and learning a lot yourself. It's also a good time to do LSAT prep and think about your application. If you want to chat, feel free to pm me.

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SweetTort
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby SweetTort » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:07 pm

mist4bison wrote:Current first year CM, here.

Honestly, I'd advise against it. Granted, I've had a miserable TFA experience thus far (i.e., being stabbed) and will likely not continue next year, so I'm extremely biased. If your heart isn't in it, don't do it. For most people, even if your heart is in it, it's very difficult.

If you have any questions about TFA, feel free to PM me.



We DEFINITELY need to hear the getting stabbed story.

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cinephile
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby cinephile » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:52 pm

While TFA can be prestigious and some people find it a rewarding experience, if you really intend to go to law school you should definitely try out being a paralegal for a bit (even if it's after TFA). I feel like anyone who wants to be a lawyer ought to be entirely sure and the only way is to experience the work first-hand.

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Fiero85
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby Fiero85 » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:06 am

SweetTort wrote:
mist4bison wrote:Current first year CM, here.

Honestly, I'd advise against it. Granted, I've had a miserable TFA experience thus far (i.e., being stabbed) and will likely not continue next year, so I'm extremely biased. If your heart isn't in it, don't do it. For most people, even if your heart is in it, it's very difficult.

If you have any questions about TFA, feel free to PM me.


:shock:


We DEFINITELY need to hear the getting stabbed story.

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yossarian
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby yossarian » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:21 am

Fiero85 wrote:
We DEFINITELY need to hear the getting stabbed story.
[/quote]

Re: the being stabbed story. Look, transparency is a good thing, and I'm not against sharing the being stabbed story. But this narrative, the "I had it bad, no shit you were stabbed, no way, tell me about it" narrative is so counter to TFA's mission. TFA works in underprivileged schools, not (inherently) violent schools.

2nd year CM. And yeah, I have my stories that my friends in the suburbs don't. But TFA is a mission for educational equity, and perpetuating the narrative of inequitable cultures and safety hurts, doesn't help. (AGAIN: If you share, you aren't a bad person, one circumstance isn't what I'm talking about).

I just want everyone to know that TFA is more a mission of persevering against shitty policies, shitty administrations, and a lack of resources stability more than it is about persevering through a bad student body. I love my kids, and I love to see them learn, and my biggest struggles in my job have NOTHING to do with them...


Sorry guys, I'll get off my soapbox now.

In answer to the OP's question, I'd like to echo the first response.. You don't have to be 100% committed to education long-term, but you do have to be 100% committed to the idea of educational equity. And if you want to be involved in it from that perspective and it happens to fit your long-term legal plans as well, more power to you.

I personally was not as invested in education as I should have been, and I think that was a mistake. I'm an ed policy wonk now, so it's all good, but I did my kids a disservice and was genuinely unhappy the first few months because of my lack of investment.

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nothingtosee
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby nothingtosee » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:21 am

Cm here. Do paralegal. Pm if u want specifix


Edit: hey poster above me. I see ur use of investment in the last sentence.

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Tanicius
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby Tanicius » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:28 am

SweetTort wrote:
mist4bison wrote:Current first year CM, here.

Honestly, I'd advise against it. Granted, I've had a miserable TFA experience thus far (i.e., being stabbed) and will likely not continue next year, so I'm extremely biased. If your heart isn't in it, don't do it. For most people, even if your heart is in it, it's very difficult.

If you have any questions about TFA, feel free to PM me.



We DEFINITELY need to hear the getting stabbed story.


No we fucking don't. Jesus Christ. It's none of your business. Have some common sensitivity.

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DKM
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby DKM » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:36 am

Tanicius wrote:
SweetTort wrote:
mist4bison wrote:Current first year CM, here.

Honestly, I'd advise against it. Granted, I've had a miserable TFA experience thus far (i.e., being stabbed) and will likely not continue next year, so I'm extremely biased. If your heart isn't in it, don't do it. For most people, even if your heart is in it, it's very difficult.

If you have any questions about TFA, feel free to PM me.



We DEFINITELY need to hear the getting stabbed story.


No we fucking don't. Jesus Christ. It's none of your business. Have some common sensitivity.


I do.

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malleus discentium
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby malleus discentium » Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:05 am

If you're not convinced you're dedicated to TFA you shouldn't do it; this advice applies generally, whether you want to apply to law school or not. If your heart is "somewhere else" then you've answered your own question.

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sjgonzalez3
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby sjgonzalez3 » Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:08 am

1 year Paralegal, 1 year promoted to Non-attorney counsel here, here's my input.

Given your apprehension to TFA, let me give you the potential benefits to being a Paralegal that I have experienced. You will have the opportunity to have genuine exposure to working in a law firm--and the monotony that comes with it. I think it's important to know that law (administrative law at least) is a grind. You will spend a good portion of your time on repetitive and somewhat rote tasks, broken up by periodic exciting and rewarding work. It will give you a level of perspective to bring into law school that I imagine (read: 0L) will ground your education, and maybe guide your interests for specialization--whether towards or away from the field you work in.

My initial Paralegal position was very clerical; but, the opportunity to promote into a much more independent position, where I was personally able to practice law, has been incredibly rewarding both intrinsically and extrinsically (if you know what I mean).

As a side note: My friends who did TFA seemed to indicate that they consistently worked greater than 40 hours per week (sometimes up to 65). This may just be the way they approached the job; but, the benefit to most Paralegal positions will be the guarantee of only 40 hour work weeks. This would give you a more stable opportunity to study for the LSAT/work on applications.

That's all I can think of right now, it's really late. PM me if you have any specific questions.

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yossarian
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby yossarian » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:18 am

sjgonzalez3 wrote:As a side note: My friends who did TFA seemed to indicate that they consistently worked greater than 40 hours per week (sometimes up to 65). This may just be the way they approached the job; but, the benefit to most Paralegal positions will be the guarantee of only 40 hour work weeks. This would give you a more stable opportunity to study for the LSAT/work on applications.


Most of my corps member friends and I average 65-70 hours/week, and that is before grad school/other TFA requirements. There is no time to study and retake (unless maybe you were an education major or can forego the grad school for another reason).

jarofsoup
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby jarofsoup » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:48 am

Be a paralegal. Will answer the "do I really want to be a lawyer" question.

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mist4bison
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby mist4bison » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:10 pm

.
Last edited by mist4bison on Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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cinephile
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby cinephile » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:16 pm

^ I'm so sorry to hear that. Glad you're okay, though.

I feel like this kind of comes with the territory of being a teacher, whether it's with TFA or anywhere else. I worked for a few years as a teacher, outside of TFA, and while I was disciplined by my supervisor for not getting between a couple of fighting students who were bigger and stronger than me. There was no way I was putting myself in the middle of a fight, but I suppose to be a teacher you're required to put yourself in harm's way if the situation arises. Doesn't really seem worth it, to be honest.

helives316
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby helives316 » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:20 pm

Thank you guys so much for all your replies! You have all been a tremendous help, and I really mean it. Believe it or not I think I've received some of the best advice on this forum than from anyone else I've talked to so far...

And @mist4bison: I'm so sorry to hear that... I hope you're all ok, now.

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yossarian
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby yossarian » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:27 pm

mist4bison wrote:
OP: Honestly, when I look back on my TFA experience thus far, being stabbed is not the worst part. I don't want you to think this is the reason you shouldn't do TFA. Of all of the CMs I know, only one besides myself has been attacked by a student. My problems have arisen mainly with school administration. My school places 30 students, half of which have emotional disorders and two of which have learning disabilities, into a classroom with one teacher (a ridiculous ratio for the grade that I teach. Most schools, even the worst in the area I teach, have 2 teachers and less than 25 students). When issues arise, such as students attacking each other, themselves, or myself, my administration tells me to deal with it all in the classroom. Whether a student has broken another student's nose (yes, this happened), stabbed me with scissors (and yeah, it hurt), or leaves the class without permission and tries to run outside to "get run over by a car," the administration turns a blind eye. This is likely because my grade doesn't take the state test and thus is irrelevant. I've been lucky enough in the last few months to turn my classroom around, but occurrences still exist.

The story:

In my case, the child that stabbed me needs a dedicated aid. He has an ED and needs someone with him for when he goes into crisis. When I say needs, I mean NEEDS. He goes into crisis anywhere from 1-5 times a day, lasting anywhere from 20 minutes-2 hours. In these instances he needs to be restrained, because he is a threat to himself and others. This is something I have learned, not through information from the school or his family, but through experience. Unfortunately, I learned it the hard way. During one crisis in late October, I tried to let the student calm down on his own. He was near my desk and all of the other students were on the carpet, paying attention to a lesson. I allowed him to throw things and break objects and my students practiced what it means to ignore. When he began throwing objects at the other students, it was time to stop him. I went over to the student (who is non-verbal and resembles Hulk during crises) in order to speak with him in yet another attempt at calming him down during a crisis. when I was close to him, he grabbed scissors from my desk and thrust them into my leg. He left the scissors in my leg and walked away, moving towards a student who had gotten up (without permission :roll: ). The student ran towards me and the student in crisis walked after him. I told my class favorite to go get a teacher and had to restrain the student in crisis. I restrained him, with scissors sticking out of my leg, until another teacher came and took over. I was driven to the hospital and had to receive stitches.

EDIT: They tried to suspend the kid afterward, but I wouldn't let them. Not his fault he has an ED. He's one of my favorites and I love him to death. I'm working my butt off to get him a dedicated aid, though.


What a tactful and useful way to share this story. Thank you so much. And thanks for the work you do.

Humbert Humbert
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Re: Teach for America or Work as a Paralegal before Law School?

Postby Humbert Humbert » Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:42 pm

sjgonzalez3 wrote:1 year Paralegal, 1 year promoted to Non-attorney counsel here, here's my input.

Given your apprehension to TFA, let me give you the potential benefits to being a Paralegal that I have experienced. You will have the opportunity to have genuine exposure to working in a law firm--and the monotony that comes with it. I think it's important to know that law (administrative law at least) is a grind. You will spend a good portion of your time on repetitive and somewhat rote tasks, broken up by periodic exciting and rewarding work. It will give you a level of perspective to bring into law school that I imagine (read: 0L) will ground your education, and maybe guide your interests for specialization--whether towards or away from the field you work in.

My initial Paralegal position was very clerical; but, the opportunity to promote into a much more independent position, where I was personally able to practice law, has been incredibly rewarding both intrinsically and extrinsically (if you know what I mean).

As a side note: My friends who did TFA seemed to indicate that they consistently worked greater than 40 hours per week (sometimes up to 65). This may just be the way they approached the job; but, the benefit to most Paralegal positions will be the guarantee of only 40 hour work weeks. This would give you a more stable opportunity to study for the LSAT/work on applications.

That's all I can think of right now, it's really late. PM me if you have any specific questions.


This isn't true at all, at least not if we are talking major market big law.




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