Biglaw Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

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jmaceachern184

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Biglaw Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

Post by jmaceachern184 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:35 pm

I’m considering applying to work in biglaw as a corporate legal assistant after graduation next spring.

- can anyone speak to the quality of life of a biglaw legal assistant just out of college?

- it’s easy enough to Glassdoor a base salary, but I realize there’s a lot of overtime involved. Could anyone give a ballpark estimate of what someone might make with overtime included?

- can anyone who has gone this route prior to law school speak to whether or not they’re glad they did it? How well it prepared them?

- how much does the role of legal assistant/paralegal differ between the various groups within a firm (corporate, litigation, M&A, paralegal, etc)

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Biglaw Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:26 pm

1) QoL, hours, etc. vary wildly by firm. Talk to current/former paralegals from firms you're looking at. It ranges from a pretty chill entry-level job to a borderline-Goldman-analyst lifestyle.

2) If you're averaging about 65 hrs/week, you'll roughly double your base salary (assuming time-and-a-half). Again, I'd try and get a better sense of the hours from people who've worked there, and during your interview. You should also ask about benefits, which can vary widely depending on the firm's overall approach to employee compensation. Ask questions like: what support do I get if I'm stuck in the office past 9PM?

3) Most people speak positively about the experience. It's the only way to legitimately "know what biglaw is like" before law school, although similar fields (banking, consulting, etc.) can produce similar or greater workloads. Roughly half of people who do it end up deciding not to go to law school, and those people learned a HUGELY valuable lesson.

4) Varies too much by firm to say for sure, but it's safe to say that corporate/transactional and litigation are pretty different.

I typed this up and it looks similar to the advice I'd give an incoming junior associate, honestly, so search around this forum and others for advice people have given about biglaw life generally.

Overall, given a choice between K-JD and biglaw paralegal, I think the latter is a no-brainer. Whether it's the best job for you depends on what your other options are (opportunity cost). This time after college is an equally-useful time to explore public interest jobs, other industries, etc.

ilovemang0s

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Re: Biglaw Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

Post by ilovemang0s » Wed Oct 07, 2020 11:00 pm

i assume doing a biglaw paralegal position doesn't really improve one's chances in law school admissions right? the most important things are still the LSAT/GPA?

nixy

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Re: Biglaw Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

Post by nixy » Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:59 am

It improves someone's chances if it means they have work experience rather than no work experience.

It can help someone learn about what practicing law (in a big firm) is like, so can, on the margins, help someone put together a polished and convincing application.

It won't make up for deficits in LSAT or GPA.

However, apart from admissions, it can be a great way to find out if you actually want to practice law to begin with, so it's very useful wrt personal learning/career development. Plenty of people who plan to go to law school, but take time after graduation to work as a paralegal, change their minds and go do something else, which is a really valuable opportunity to have.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Biglaw Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:21 am

Agree with nixy. You do it for the personal-development and networking opportunities. Paralegal work (biglaw or otherwise) is a solid component of a law-school application, but it won't have much statistical impact on outcomes because it is very common among applicants.

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soft blue

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Re: Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

Post by soft blue » Sun Oct 11, 2020 6:30 am

I did not but several friends did. They pretty much all regretted doing it; the work wasn't interesting or thoughtful and didn't prepare them for practice or law school. Pretty much no matter where you are, you'll be doing some combination of menial work (think assembling binders, updating email lists, etc) and maybe light copyediting.

FWIW in my group we basically do not use the paralegals because we found enough errors that we feel we have to review their work, which takes just as long as doing it ourselves.

Allegedly boutique paralegals sometimes have a much better experience, because they can build relationships with attorneys (unlike at biglaw, where you're just in a pool) and maybe get trusted with some simple work.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: Biglaw Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

Post by LBJ's Hair » Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:22 pm

Agree with others -- do it for the $$, to see what BigLaw is like, and to get some professional work experience. Those are all fine reasons. Don't do it because you think it'll help your application.

Lawman1865

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Re: Legal Assistant/Paralegal out of undergrad

Post by Lawman1865 » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:47 am

soft blue wrote:
Sun Oct 11, 2020 6:30 am
I did not but several friends did. They pretty much all regretted doing it; the work wasn't interesting or thoughtful and didn't prepare them for practice or law school. Pretty much no matter where you are, you'll be doing some combination of menial work (think assembling binders, updating email lists, etc) and maybe light copyediting.

FWIW in my group we basically do not use the paralegals because we found enough errors that we feel we have to review their work, which takes just as long as doing it ourselves.

Allegedly boutique paralegals sometimes have a much better experience, because they can build relationships with attorneys (unlike at biglaw, where you're just in a pool) and maybe get trusted with some simple work.
I agree with Nixy and others here, in that it can be a very useful personal experience and also that it varies wildly between firms. I disagree with the above though. My corporate department in a biglaw firm employs a lot of legal assistants and they do very substantive and useful work, including heavy involvement in lots of documents, interaction with a broad range of attorneys in the firm, as well as some communication with a variety of clients. I also know of another biglaw T-20 firm that uses legal assistants pretty heavily.

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