How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school? Forum

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CLS2020

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How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by CLS2020 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:48 pm

Hello.
I just graduated from NYU this May 2019 with a BA in sociology and politics, summa cum laude. I really want to get a legal assistant or paralegal position with a BIgLaw firm prior to law school. To that extent, I have tried applying directly online and reaching out to out-house recruiters (like Nadine Bocelli), but I have heard nothing back. I am new to networking, but I have also given that a shot as well. My job search started from April to now. Maybe I am not trying hard enough, but I really want to get some insight as to how I should approach landing a position. I don't know if it is true, but speaking to a couple of my peers, BigLaw firms recruit legal assistants in cycles, and interviews and job offers were during the time of the Fall 2019 semester. If that is true, then I am way behind the game and was not in the loop of everything.
**I'm talking specifically about NYC legal.
Tl;dr. I need help getting an entry-level job ideally at a BigLaw firm starting ASAP.
Last edited by CLS2020 on Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CLS2020

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by CLS2020 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:59 pm

If you have already gone through this process, how exactly did you do so? What advice would you give?
Thanks!

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by LaLiLuLeLo » Fri Jun 07, 2019 7:16 pm

I know some firms have programs where they hire new grads who are interested in going to law school as legal assistants for a period of time (18-24 months). I’d try to look into those, but I honestly dont know what the hiring cycle is.

What’s the issue with working outside of biglaw?

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Vexed

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by Vexed » Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:09 pm

Yeah, even if you specifically want to work as a para/assistant in biglaw, starting in a similar position at a non-biglaw NYC firm wouldn't necessarily hurt. My SO started as a legal assistant at a fairly small non-biglaw NYC firm and it was only a few months until she started getting emails from recruiters about similar jobs at biglaw firms.

CLS2020

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by CLS2020 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 10:27 pm

Vexed wrote:Yeah, even if you specifically want to work as a para/assistant in biglaw, starting in a similar position at a non-biglaw NYC firm wouldn't necessarily hurt. My SO started as a legal assistant at a fairly small non-biglaw NYC firm and it was only a few months until she started getting emails from recruiters about similar jobs at biglaw firms.
Sorry this might be a stupid question, but I am just really new to the whole thing.
Did she eventually have to reach out to recruiters or how did the recruiters just come to her?

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:15 pm

I applied in Feb/March of my senior year of college and got a job as a para at a v10 in NYC through direct mailing. I researched HR contact information on their website and just cold emailed my resume, transcript and cover letter. I did not know anyone at the firm and went to school in a different state. I would say though my start day was about the same as the summer associates (right around June) so you are probably a little late to the NY biglaw boat, but with your grades you should be able to land something eventually!

If you have more questions, I'm happy to dm you. Lmk.

CLS2020

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by CLS2020 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I applied in Feb/March of my senior year of college and got a job as a para at a v10 in NYC through direct mailing. I researched HR contact information on their website and just cold emailed my resume, transcript and cover letter. I did not know anyone at the firm and went to school in a different state. I would say though my start day was about the same as the summer associates (right around June) so you are probably a little late to the NY biglaw boat, but with your grades you should be able to land something eventually!

If you have more questions, I'm happy to dm you. Lmk.
Hello! Thank you so much for getting back to me. Yes, I would LOVE to speak further with you through dm, but how do I do that since you're anonymous?

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:54 pm

CLS2020 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I applied in Feb/March of my senior year of college and got a job as a para at a v10 in NYC through direct mailing. I researched HR contact information on their website and just cold emailed my resume, transcript and cover letter. I did not know anyone at the firm and went to school in a different state. I would say though my start day was about the same as the summer associates (right around June) so you are probably a little late to the NY biglaw boat, but with your grades you should be able to land something eventually!

If you have more questions, I'm happy to dm you. Lmk.
Hello! Thank you so much for getting back to me. Yes, I would LOVE to speak further with you through dm, but how do I do that since you're anonymous?
Just sent you a dm

Aptitude

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by Aptitude » Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:18 pm

Why not try for entry level paralegal and legal assistant positions at a tech companies as well? You'd get way better benefits and generally a much nicer, casual, and chill work environment.

The perks will be way better if it's one of the major tech companies. Free lunch, drinks and snacks every single day. Depending on where you're at, the food can be amazing. The ones that don't offer free food will subsidize, and even their food is amazing (choices of grill, salad bar, sandwiches, sushi, wok, pizza, pasta etc.). I've even been to one that has pho, poke, and char siu among its options. :P

Your other benefits will be top notch if its a major tech company not Amazon. Usually great healthcare, onsite gym (or they pay for a health club), game rooms, and a bunch of discounted stuff at high end stores/restaurants and happy hour places. They also offer a lot of vacation/sick days. Depending on where you live, they'll even bus you in and out, and bus you to the health club.

You'll meet a lot of interesting people too. Even though you'll be in the legal department, you'll meet different people in the common areas. Some of the people will be the smartest you'll ever meet, but chill. Grabbing lunch at the cafeteria with people from all over, like engineering/math grads from Tsinghua University or IIT. You could play table tennis with people coming in from the UK, Russia, everywhere. Lots of fun if you're looking to burn a year or two.

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Aptitude

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by Aptitude » Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:56 pm

I forgot to mention the company events/team building/off-sites can be a lot of fun too. Company I worked at threw a concert outside its building (office tower was in the middle of a busy city) during the work day.

This gives good insight into what some off-sites are like https://youtu.be/ilTczNXeFDI?t=145

icansortofmath

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by icansortofmath » Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:40 pm

Don’t have much to add but I know a few former paralegals that bypassed OCI altogether and fast tracked into the firms they paralegalled for.

CLS2020

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by CLS2020 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:20 pm

I think my biggest roadblock is landing the interviews. I know I applied late (applied in April when the recruiting cycle was, as I now found out, from January to March), so that might be the biggest reason.

However, I still don't know and am worried that if I applied online the next recruiting cycle, I still won't be able to land any interviews. If anyone has been through this process, did you just apply online and you heard back? Or did you have to do any networking?

Thanks, guys! I really appreciate all of y'all!

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Vexed

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by Vexed » Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:14 pm

CLS2020 wrote:
Vexed wrote:Yeah, even if you specifically want to work as a para/assistant in biglaw, starting in a similar position at a non-biglaw NYC firm wouldn't necessarily hurt. My SO started as a legal assistant at a fairly small non-biglaw NYC firm and it was only a few months until she started getting emails from recruiters about similar jobs at biglaw firms.
Sorry this might be a stupid question, but I am just really new to the whole thing.
Did she eventually have to reach out to recruiters or how did the recruiters just come to her?
They've been reaching out to her.

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CLS2020

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by CLS2020 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:20 pm

Would it hurt me if I apply the next cycle, considering I would have already been out of undergrad for a year?

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:55 pm

CLS2020 wrote:Would it hurt me if I apply the next cycle, considering I would have already been out of undergrad for a year?
I was a para at a v15 firm before law school and I think it really depends on the firm. Some places (Cravath, S&C) seem to have very organized paralegal hiring with on-campus recruiting more akin to what you'd see for associate recruiting. Others (including the place I worked) were kind of a shitshow of people randomly applying with a variety of methods/connections.

If you know anyone in a big law firm who would be willing to help (paralegal or lawyer), I would say that the easiest way in is via probably networking, as opposed to throwing your resume down a hole. The next best thing it to use your undergrad's career services, who probably have relations with a variety of big law firms (I would be shocked if NYU didn't).

So, to answer your question, there is no "cycle" to speak of at a lot of these places and they almost certainly won't care if you've been out awhile.

CLS2020

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Re: How do you get a legal assistant/ paralegal job prior to law school?

Post by CLS2020 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
CLS2020 wrote:Would it hurt me if I apply the next cycle, considering I would have already been out of undergrad for a year?
I was a para at a v15 firm before law school and I think it really depends on the firm. Some places (Cravath, S&C) seem to have very organized paralegal hiring with on-campus recruiting more akin to what you'd see for associate recruiting. Others (including the place I worked) were kind of a shitshow of people randomly applying with a variety of methods/connections.

If you know anyone in a big law firm who would be willing to help (paralegal or lawyer), I would say that the easiest way in is via probably networking, as opposed to throwing your resume down a hole. The next best thing it to use your undergrad's career services, who probably have relations with a variety of big law firms (I would be shocked if NYU didn't).

So, to answer your question, there is no "cycle" to speak of at a lot of these places and they almost certainly won't care if you've been out awhile.
Hello.

Can I ask how specifically you applied and got your position?

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How to get a job during gap year before law school? Applying post-graduation?

Post by CLS2020 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:31 am

I don't know where to put this, so I'll just put this here.

I just graduated from NYU last week in August after finishing up the last few classes. At the same time during the summer session that just ended, I interned for UNICEF. Now that I officially graduated, I am starting to panic because I'm unemployed right out of college and there is now a gap in my resume because of that. I read from multiple places that it is a bad idea to wait until after graduation to start looking for a job, but that is exactly what I am doing, and I am scared that I will not land something good for my gap year before law school. I'm primarily looking to be a paralegal/legal assistant at one of the BigLaw companies, even though I have no direct legal experience on my resume. I heard the recruiting cycle was early winter to early spring with staring dates in June. Anyways, I was hoping to get some advice on my job search process, considering I am looking for a job post-graduation? How long did you take to land your job right after undergrad? What did you do exactly to land the job? Do you have any knowledge on BigLaw Legal Assistant/Paralegal recruiting that would be beneficial? I really appreciate just any advice and insight. Thank you so, so much in advance!

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cavalier1138

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Re: How to get a job during gap year before law school? Applying post-graduation?

Post by cavalier1138 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:08 am

Your focus right now should be getting a job, period. You can continue searching for paralegal work while you do that, but get yourself employed.

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Re: How to get a job during gap year before law school? Applying post-graduation?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:48 am

You keep saying "gap year" - do you mean 2-3 years? Most law firms are not going to want someone who will start and then immediately apply to law school.

For what it's worth, I know of at least one top firm in New York that rentis curly interviewing to hire 1-2 paralegals (no, I can't give a firm name, sorry - it's probably too late in the process for it to matter anyway), so it's not unheard of to get hired at a different time of year. But yeah, the main pipeline for those gigs is to apply in your last year of college and then start in June.

Between the timing, and how crappy the lifestyle is, it doesn't seem like a great idea for you. Is there a particular reason you want to be a biglaw paralegal?

In other words, I agree with cav that you should just get some other job. Talk to your school's career office if you're really so lost that "how do I get a job after college" is a question you're lost on.

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