Thursday, June 3, 2010

What About Becoming a Paralegal?

So, I try to be charitable--even though I am poor--by giving out legal advice when someone cannot afford to pay me.  I was in the Court of Appeals one day on one matter and I saw a couple there who were being victimized by the Family Court System.  I spent some time speaking to them and found out that they were both unemployed, but the mother was being denied access to her son from a previous relationship and had no idea why. I told them to call me if they needed any help.
I got a call a few weeks later and I coached the mama on how to do a Motion that I would have done, if they had retained me. I sent her examples and read through her work and told her how to file it and serve it.
Yesterday was the big day in court, where she would go in and argue her motion.  She called me in the afternoon all giddy and said that she kicked ass and had a "Matlock" moment.  She now wanted to become an attorney.  She asked if I would sponsor her to go.  LMAO. I don't have the money to sponsor myself, by way of paying my loans on time.  I didn't want to shut her down. I didn't know what to say. So, I said, "Why don't you look into becoming a paralegal.  It's cheaper and quicker and you will do a lot of the work that the lawyer does--except go to Court."
Did I say the right thing? I'm not even sure how paras are doing during the recession.  Does anyone know?  I'd like to give this "client" some real guidance and I know law school is NOT the right option.
At my big firm, the paras were paid $40K with OT.  Some paras there got 100K when the the getting was good.  I found this article that says that they are earning decent salaries when living in a metropolitan area.   I currently outsource to a paralegal who is self employed for as much as $199 to $250 a case, depending.  I think he is probably doing well. I owe him $600 as we speak.
Anyone have any ideas?


  1. In my preferred geographic location, paralegal and legal secretary job postings outnumber attorney postings three or four to one. A number of scambloggers have posted that when they've applied to paralegal positions, they end up being told JDs are not being considered, even though we could do the same work. I assume this means, at least in comparison, that paralegals are doing okay. The floor seems to be better, even if the hypothetical ceiling is much lower.

  2. There sure are a lot of paralegal/legal assistant/secretarial jobs I'd like to apply for. I think at one point I applied to so many that craigslist cycled through a week with "No JD's" affixed to the end of the adverts.

  3. Legal secretaries have been paid more than paralegals most places I have worked. All we required was any college degree to be a paralegal.

  4. I was able to get an interview yesterday for a legal assistant position; this was with my resume indicating that I graduaTTTed from law school. It was for a small town solo practitioner; about 30 minutes from where I live. He said that he would not mind having another law school graduate around the office. One positive is that the attorney said that he hated doing legal research, and I don't mind it.

    Interestingly, a month ago, I mailed my resume to another firm for a legal assistant position I found on craigslist, and I never heard back from them. Today, I saw a new posting for the same legal assistant position and sent my "non-law resume." I got a call from them a few hours hours ago to schedule an interview.

    I'm wondering how to talk about law school and the bar exam in 2 months if I'm asked.

  5. Here's an interesting question: How do you ask about the JD issue? I've had luck w/some people in applying for such jobs by admitting I may be overqualified but saying point blank that I have ZERO interest in being an associate in the typical law firm environment.

    I really don't, since taking a job like that would mean the end of working at things I'm truly passionate about.

    It probably helps that my current experiences are so entrenched in creative pursuits + I have pre-law school experience as a referral paralegal. I present myself as the creative type that I am w/no desire to have a job where I have to take work home w/me or be on call 24/7.

    I don't even send anything w/out asking that question & I never contact temp agencies, though people in that field have asked if I considered leaving the JD off the resume. If I don't get a response, I take that as a sign that it's not a place I'd be happy at.

  6. As a paralegal, I think you gave her good advice. Even though paralegal jobs have a lot more competition today, it is not as bad as attorney positions. Legal secretary positions are really abundant now because for many, you have to be able to type over 60 wpm, have advanced knowledge of Microsoft Office (Word and Excel especially) and be familiar using Accounting programs such as SAP (for tracking travel and expenses).



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