Best Way To Break In?

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MetaFitX in Akron, Ohio

64 months ago

Hello everybody,

I'm a recent university graduate seeking to become career paralegal. If you had to give a complete newb one piece of advice pertaining to getting your foot in the door, what would it be?

I should also mention that I do not have any experience in the way of internships, nor is my major actually IN paralegal studies (Political Science). I would not be adverse to starting as a legal secretary just to start out.

Thanks,

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

64 months ago

See if you can get a receptionist of file clerk gig. Maybe get an ABA approved paralegal certificate. Network with friends who might be able to hook you up with attorneys.

I don't think you will be able to start as a legal secretary or paralegal, unless it's a little bitty office and you are the receptionist AND secretary AND paralegal.

There are just so few legal support jobs now, but you are in luck in that you are entry level and are probably willing to take an $8/hour job just to get into the field.

Those of us with experience expecting $20-30/hour are out of luck. Not many of these types of jobs available now.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

My first job was in a sole-practioner law office. It was the best experience. Pay was $11/hour - no benefits.

Great job. No stress really. AFter that, the jobs were stressful- some more than others.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

P.S. - The position referenced above was advertised in the local newspaper. (not the legal newspaper)

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

While looking for a job, I suggest using the unemployment resource center. Why? copying and faxes are ***free***. Additionally, they pay for the postage and get your mail out daily.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

The Cover Letter- this is a copy/past from a recent article:

News reporters know ****most people only read three paragraphs, so they lead with the most important information.
You should, too. ***

Start with a relevant professional accomplishment, said Sherry Mirshahi, a resume writer and interview consultant with Interview Roadmap.

"The accomplishment should be aligned with at least one of the qualifications the employer seeks," she said. "This encourages the reader to continue reading and automatically positions you as an expert."

Keep It Employer-Focused AND

Talk about how the job fits your goals in the interview. Use the cover letter to show how you can help the employer meet her goals, said Alison Farrin, hiring manager and owner of Innovative Pension.

Make sure your cover letter shows that:

You've looked at the company website and know what they do.
You can help cut costs or increase profits. N/A

****You have something that makes you special and will make the company special.***

Point, draft a good cover letter for your resume.

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stevbo in New Castle, Delaware

64 months ago

Kmn,

I am also considering a career change as a paralegal. My previous
background was in customer service and relationship management. What is your take? Is it really worth it?

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

64 months ago

No! Not worth it!! Next to impossible to find the first job with no experience.

There are 20 experienced applicants for every open job right now.

Major layoffs at the bigger firms have put a lot of legal support people out there searching for a new job. Firms know this and have lowered salaries because they can.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

64 months ago

I respectfully disagree with DLP. My legal career began with a BA in Poli. Sci., 5.5 years of customer service/operator work experience, and a 2-attorney firm that hired me as a Legal Secretary. It became readily apparent that I would not remain a secretary forever as my initiative and thirst for knowledge saw me taking on more tasks and responsibilities. Within 6 months I was drafting full estate planning packages, real estate documents, and handling minor discovery. I eventually went back to school and earned by Paralegal BA, which I completed after being at that firm 5 years. 3 months after getting my Paralegal BA, I took a job as a litigation paralegal at one of the larger and most prestigious firms in town. I soon realized the value of the mentoring and training I received in my 5 years at the solo firm and became a valuable member of our litigation dept. I am now the senior paralegal here, working on my Paralegal Masters' degree, and serve as an officer on the board of the local paralegal association.

DLP's comments are simply his viewpoint... they do not apply to all people, all the time, in all situations. The Paralegal profession is what you make it; if you're willing to put in the time, effort, hard work, and personal dedication both in and outside the office.

Best of Luck!

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

64 months ago

DLP,

Your viewpoints are YOUR reality, nothing more. I know many other paralegals who have different experiences/stories; your reality does not invalidate the reality of their experiences/stories in which they have thriving, successful, happy legal careers with attorney-bosses that are not abusive and actually value and appreciate their work and show it.

I've been monitoring these forums for over a year now and it seems that the regulars are mostly a minor few that have had bad experiences for various reasons and congregate here to do nothing but whine, complain, and trash the profession as a whole. Like any profession, the legal field does have its good and bad, but it is NOT all bad as you and others here would have one believe.

Further, I know more paralegals that began as secretaries and worked their way up, than I do those who got a degree first and then broke into the field. The Paralegal profession grew out of the legal secretaries... as secretaries became more experienced and took on more substantive work, they began to organize and develop paralegal education programs and the various certification programs. The advent of degreed entry-level paralegals is still relatively new in the paralegal profession, and quite frankly, there are still enough 'old school' attorneys who look at overall law firm experience more than they do a degree. The prospective candidate with law firm work experience and a degree in any field will more likely win out over the candidate with a 2 or 4 year paralegal degree and no experience.

Lastly, there is something to be said for starting out at the bottom and working your way up; the most successful people have taken this path. I know a lot of prima donas who have the attitude of anything less than 'paralegal' is beneath them, and they certainly haven't gotten very far.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

64 months ago

1. The LAT Listserve is not 'my' listserve. Legal Assistant Today (LAT) is the premiere paralegal industry trade magazine. As part of their services, they offer a free listserve that anyone can join to network, ask questions, get advice, etc., from other legal staff around the country. I recommend it here from time to time as a counter-point to all the negativity that visitors encounter on this forum. Besides myself, I have yet to encounter a regular poster on this forum who offers a positive viewpoint or even more a objective viewpoint about the legal profession. Also notable, is most of the regulars here no longer work in the legal profession. I think individuals looking into the paralegal
profession should get a balanced perspective - and hearing from career paralegals who are still going strong is a good viewpoint from the negativity on this forum.

2. Internet forums like this generally tend to attract the disenchanted, but vocal, few who seem to make it their mission to complain the longest and loudest to 'warn others away'. It's like the saying in customer service, the 90% of satisfied customers, you never hear from again, they're happy and go on with their lives. But that unhappy 10% will make you miserable because they're unhappy and want everyone else to know about it too.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

64 months ago

3. I have no agenda or motive here other than to be a counter-point voice to all the negativity visitors encounter when coming here to inquire about the legal profession. The horror stories here are the stories of the tellers, they do not speak for every person in the legal profession. As for "Can you say that for EVERY such person, Jane? You can't and you know you can't. Beware of absolutes. Once again, Jane, perception and typecasting." - You submit your own stories and view point as absolute truths and they are not; you do your own fairshare of perception and typecasting.

Giving your viewpoint is one thing, but saying it applies entirely and absolutely to every person and the entire legal profession is false and wrong.

4. I don't resent certified paralegals. If you've listened to my stories, you know I have both a Paralegal BA, another BA and am working on my MPS degree. Clearly, more than enough education to hold my own with other paralegals from varying education, certification, and work experience backgrounds.

5. As for 'very far' - the paralegals I admire and look up to are the ones who contribute both within and without their firm, whether it be in their local, state, or national paralegal organizations or just general community organizations. They are known to be leaders in their firms and can be called on by colleagues, both in and outside their firm, to share knowledge, resources, etc. Their bosses want to hold on to them as valuable employees and if they do look for opportunities elsewhere they get glowing recommendations and make great impressions at their new firm. They're willing to mentor newbies to the field and share wisdom and guidance to develop quality colleagues and help them avoid the pitfalls of their early years. They speak at seminars, teach courses, present at conferences, etc.

Basically, their good reputations, work ethic, and overall positive attitude precede them in the community.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

64 months ago

6. The prima donas I was referring to have the general attitude they should start out and only be a paralegal and only do what they perceive to be paralegal tasks. Anything else is beneath them, they shouldn't have to know anything outside of 'paralegal'. These individuals limit themselves, their usefulness, and become known for being difficult and not team players. Attorneys may put up with them, but they don't engender the same level of professional respect from attorneys or their colleagues they might have otherwise.

My comment about starting at the bottom and working your way up applies to any profession, not just legal.

7. Nothing requires me to share every anecdotal story about my legal career. Sharing my basic story, offering general advice, and directing to other resources is enough for me.

Lastly, you have your own agenda here as well, to vent your personal bitterness here for all the world to see and portray the legal profession as negatively as possible to warn others away. That's your reality, that's your perception and viewpoint, but there are plenty of others as well. I'm one of them.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

64 months ago

"With that remark you come off as defensive about your education, Jane. I think you harbor resentment toward certified paralegals because they, as I, got their paralegal jobs without prior experience. I don't think you like that."

I harbor no resentment at all, and certainly don't appreciate you attributing motives to me that I don't have. ABA certification has little to no significance in my neck of the woods, so this is just a non-issue. Paralegals who have earned their CLA or RP certifications are acknowledged as having an extra 'weightier' credential, if you will, than those without. They don't call the CLA exam the 'mini-bar exam' for nothing.

I already had a college degree when I got my first non-paralegal job at a law firm without prior experience - within 6 months I was doing substantive work and I developed my skills and carried the title of 'Paralegal' long before I completed my degree. I know a number of paralegals in my area who have non-paralegal college degrees and got hired at law firms, worked their way into paralegal jobs and then went and got their paralegal degree or CLA certification; similar to me - this does happen with some frequency.

I do have a problem with those who think certain things are beneath them because they merely carry a title or a degree. I am a well educated Paralegal, but nothing is beneath me to do.. my attitude is I'll do whatever it takes to move the project and our team forward, even if it's general clerical tasks that someone else just can't get to when they need to be taken care of.

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

64 months ago

I think I am pretty objective about the paralegal profession and I currently work as a paralegal.

I enjoyed my work up until the last few months when there was an attorney change in my group and everything has just gone to pot. It's horrible. It's every bad thing I have ever read from any unhappy current or former paralegal.

Amaing how one person (attorney) can change everything.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Continued....

But IMO actual experiences that back one's assertions speak louder than mere platitudes. Your damn straight, Jane. No one should suffer the abuse and lousy treatment so many lawyers and law firms mete out to loyal, hardworking assistants.

I always enjoy your posts, Jane. Thank you.

Here , here. Do I ever agree. My next to last paralegal SHOULD have been a sweet gig. BUT no- it turns out not. 9-5 hours,no O/T, all the benefits. Then the monkey wrench gets thrown in. The ever demanding micromanaging attorney. HE is is my office 2 x a week- Need more, more...I only work for him in the am as I work for the other partner in the pm. The need more, more attorney finally broke the camel's back. Yeah- I was treated like a workhorse by him- and he was never satisfied. YOu want more Complaints, I will give them to you. So I spend a few days punching out a lot of them. He is happy, for now- Then he is on my case that I have to do the work involved also: Follow up on sevice, enter judments, file execution so we can now legally go after the money. (cont'd)

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Bottom line- there is only so much I can do in a day. IF I am punching out Complaints for 3 days in a row, I am not entering judgments etc. NOt possible. AND, we have to keep track of service as there is a deadline procedure in this type of work. JUST too much work, never ending that the attorney wants me to do ALL at once. Not humanly possible. AND, he has no complaints on my work. I am on top of it.

Bottom line- 6 months into this , now, just a nightmare of stress- I snap on another para- AND I am out the door with 3 weeks extra pay. The SNAP was the sign that my body was breaking down big time. HIs expectations were unrealistic and that was just how it was. Yeah- I RESENT that attorney big time. I should have been there for as long as I needed to be there. It was a career breaker for me.

The other Partner was a peach to work for. ONce he was comfortatble that I knew what I was doing, he let me be and just checked in everyone once in a while when I was working on a deadline. I met them all. (cont'd)

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

(Cont'd)

I had 2 really bad experiences working for In-house counsel. At one corporation,I was re-structured out after 6 months- dropped a bomb on me.

The next In-house para positon, 6 months into it I find that the company is unable to meet payroll on a regualar basis. And My paycheck was short 1 x. FInally, I forced them to fire me- and they will not give me my paycheck (it was pay day that day) AND try to force me to sign a document that I will waive my rights to unemployment. Not signing, leave with no paycheck. Had to GOT TO COURT to get my money, about $3,000 back pay. That took 3 months- and the stress I was under with that going on was too much.

I was too stressed to apply for jobs. Yes I got my money.

SO- my para career was one nightmare after another.

When you need a job and you get an offer, you take the job. Teh absolute unforeseeable happened to me. It was one rolling nightmare after another.

For me- my para career- filled with high drama, highly unusual situations and they HAPPENED TO ME. ANd I never had a complaint about my work. ANd I do not make trouble in the work place. I was just doing the job I was hired for and doing it correctly.

With all this unbelievable high drama situations happening to me as a para- they affected all aspect of my life: my money, my personal life, my family's thoughts of me. My living situation. Everthing was affected. ANd it finally destroyed my life after 10 years as a para.

FIrst job I was there for 1 year 9 mo- It went fine. Got my training to move on. AND I happened to move to nightmares.

This happened, therefore it can. (cont'd)

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

AS to Paralegal Association membership and being an officer in the Association- BIG firms like that. But certainly not all the para employees of the firms are active participating memebers of the Association. SOMe are just members, and some not at all. ANd they work for the big firms- and they are doing just fine.

Personally, I have no time for these extra- curricular activities. I want a life outside of my job. Being a para was only an ends to a means for me. AND- had I gotten a break from all the high drama and a couple years of some smooth sailing, more or less- my life would be way different.

AND maybe I would have gotten involved had I worked for a BIG FIRM and I saw a benefit to further my success. In my case, it was unnecessary. THE end.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Yes Jane- you have done well in your para career. You can pat yourself on the back. AND,I get the thought pattern that if you can do it- others can to.

BUT not everyones career goes as planned- as the stories are on the forum.

WE have an Experienced IP para- 10Years or so-this para works for a HOt shot big firm in D.C. I just recently read a post of his/hers that posted the IP para had changed jobs due to stress (this para is billable hours position) - Took a PAY CUT, and worked a deal of only 30 hours a week- AND recently he has posted that the stress is building in this position.

Bottom line- as DLP has commented. Eventually the stress grinds you- big time.

Seriously- I think the shelf life of a para is about 10 years. DUE to stress and bad treatment by lawyers.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Speaking of bizarre para tales, tonight I called the police because I came downstairs and saw smoke in the dining room. Homeowner/landlord (a funtional alcholic) is cooking, I check out the oven situation, and put on the ceiling fans and tell her to open the back door. SORRY- smoke like that is dangerous to your health. I go upstairs, come back down in 10 minutes (it is 10pm)and the drunk is asleep, passed out, at the computer, with the food still cooking and the oven still on.

Great- not good at all. SO I call the police (as the CRISIS people suggested to get a paper trail on this head case) AND- she skates throough. Yes, I know she can get drunk in her house.

BUT- the officer said (there were 3) "she can even burn the house down if she wants to." (yeah, great recommendation)

Unbelievable. And off they went, asking her is that rosemary chicken you are cooking (the girl is anesthetized by alcohol)

ANd then asking me if I was an adult and do I feel in danger- therefore just move out (in my head, oh sure officer, I will pack up right now and go>>>>>>)

Nothing they can do- until I leave, she burns the house down, it is discovered that the cause of the fire is her and her homeowners insurance won't pay. PLUS this is a rowhouse- nay- her house up in flames presents no danger to the attached row houses next door.

sigh- what a life.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Yeah- and I blame it on the In-house para position where I get the bomb that I am being terminated (the re-structure)

And the company that could not make payroll- unfortunate Indeed.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

OH- and after all the bad luck (my words) landings I had in my para job- due to all the job losses- I was forced to move in with a roomate situation. She owns the house, lives here, and I am the tenant. SHE is an alcholic.

SORRY- of all the places that people rent- I land in with an alcholic - who has caused me so much stress and resulting interference with my life. SORRY- this was another bizarre unknown situation.

SORRY- but from bad landing in jobs to bad landing in a roomate situation (alcoholic who >>>>>>)

The bad landings have continued. It never ends.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

stevbo in New Castle, Delaware said: Kmn,

I am also considering a career change as a paralegal. My previous
background was in customer service and relationship management. What is your take? Is it really worth it?

Just know that if you get your para certificate, you will be looking for a job for months, probably end up in a sole-practioner office, get paid $10/hour, no benefits and you will have to stay there for at least 6 months, 1 year is best. AND you will have to stay there till you get a better job offer while you are employed.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas said: I think I am pretty objective about the paralegal profession and I currently work as a paralegal.

I enjoyed my work up until the last few months when there was an attorney change in my group and everything has just gone to pot. It's horrible. It's every bad thing I have ever read from any unhappy current or former paralegal.

Amaing how one person (attorney) can change everything.

Henceforth, working in the check-out line at XXXXX store sounds good.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida said: DLP,

Your viewpoints are YOUR reality, nothing more. ...r.

Jane - REALITY is still reality. IS it not?

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas said: I think I am pretty objective about the paralegal profession and I currently work as a paralegal.

I enjoyed my work up until the last few months when there was an attorney change in my group and everything has just gone to pot. It's horrible. It's every bad thing I have ever read from any unhappy current or former paralegal.

Amaing how one person (attorney) can change everything.

Excellent comment Texas paralegal. Your job started out so promising, until a new sheriff comes into town, and now you find yourself living the nighmares posted on the forum. Terrible.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: That needed to be said. To be crystal clear, I have never tried to discount or marginalize Jane's accomplishments. Let her pat herself on her back, if she wants, and compliment herself for her education. Not always. Moreover, My wife is a good example. She was a law librarian for many years. She had finally found her dream job - law librarian in a small firm. She loved it. The firm loved her.

One day the admin unexpectedly pulled her into his office. He told her she was being laid off. He did not give a reason. She did not understand it at all. The firm had no other work for her.

Turned out the firm was breaking up. And get this for law firm cruelty, folks - the other employees learned of the breakup en masse. At least that firm treated my wife humanely by terminating her privately.

Unbeknownst to my wife while she worked there, that firm had a sleazy reputation. Its reputation dogged my wife. Of course she looked for another job, but, without a doubt, her association with that firm tainted her. She could not overcome employers' misguided perception she was guilty by association. Once again, my wife was the law librarian - NOT an attorney or paralegal. She had NOTHING to do with that firm's purported shenanigans. She never worked in law in that city again. So, definitely, things didn't go as planned for my wife.

I agree. I beat the odds, by one year. But I persevere.
.

Excellent true life story. THE worst is being terminated with either some BS reason that makes no sense or no reason.

ANd as with me, there was somthing going on in the background of the company- and I had nothing to do with it, as your wife.

You are befuddled to death as to why you lost your job. It is helpful to eventually find out the real reason, for me (re-structure, for your wife, firm going down in flames.

BUT, it puts no money in your pocket. AND for me, mine was only a 6 month journey (cont'd)

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

(cont'd)

leaving me with credibilty issues on my resume. Not easy to find a job after that at all.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Same with your wife- guilty by association.

What a world.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

After losing way too much money from the 2 In-house corporate para positions, I finally had to cut bait and head back to Delaware.

I will never forget or forgive my parents who told me that I cannot come to their house. Go to a shelter.

Thank goodness a guy friend took me in. He understood the situation and how my famiy interactions can go.

FAMILY's take: She's a loser. Not shelving anymore doe out for a lost cause. Off to the shelter she goes. Let her sink or swim. SO harsh.

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mlbutts in Newark, Ohio

49 months ago

I am new to this forum and have read several of the post, many which are very negative. I recieved my associates degree 5 years ago and had my first job working for a private attorney as a paralegal part-time. I then applied and was hired as a legal secretary for Legal Aide. I left there to work as a paralegal/hearing officer. I find it also important to mention that I was over 40 when I decided to go for a paralegal degree. I could have let all the stats about older workers and slumping market discourage me but instead I went for what I wanted and it has paid off for me. I work with 4 great attorneys who are very supportive, respectfull and helpful. In fact all the individuals I worked with where very decent individuals. I do not regret making the career change. So if it is what you want go for it.

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tmf1977 in White Plains, New York

49 months ago

mlbutts in Newark, Ohio said: I am new to this forum and have read several of the post, many which are very negative. I recieved my associates degree 5 years ago and had my first job working for a private attorney as a paralegal part-time. I then applied and was hired as a legal secretary for Legal Aide. I left there to work as a paralegal/hearing officer. I find it also important to mention that I was over 40 when I decided to go for a paralegal degree. I could have let all the stats about older workers and slumping market discourage me but instead I went for what I wanted and it has paid off for me. I work with 4 great attorneys who are very supportive, respectfull and helpful. In fact all the individuals I worked with where very decent individuals. I do not regret making the career change. So if it is what you want go for it.

Thank you for mentioning about your experience. I am in a low point now and I really needed to read something positive. Thank you for that.

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jslinfla in Delray Beach, Florida

48 months ago

An ABA paralegal certificate is the highest grade paralegal certificate obtainable. An ABA certificate will leave no doubt as to your schooling.
Your degree and an ABA paralegal certificate would be ample qualifications to seek entry work. -Displaced Legal Professional.

See if you can get a receptionist of file clerk gig. Maybe get an ABA approved paralegal certificate. -Paralegal in Carrollton, TX

ABA certification has little to no significance in my neck of the woods, so this is just a non-issue. -Jane Do Girl

I disagree with Displaced Legal Professional and Paralegal in Carrollton, TX simply because they are several reputable paralegal programs which are not ABA approved: Univ. of Miami, Duke, Rice, Emory! With heavy hitters such as these, it would be ridiculous for any legal employer to turn away a potential employee who graduated from one of these schools merely because they are not ABA approved. Thus, I have to agree with Jane Do Girl.

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jslinfla in Delray Beach, Florida

48 months ago

I disagree with Displaced Legal Professional and Paralegal in Carrollton, TX simply because they are several--"there"

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jslinfla in Delray Beach, Florida

48 months ago

The fact is many legal employers REQUIRE ABA certificates.-DLP

IMHO, these legal employers are too narrow minded and I probably would not want to work for them if they have such tunnel vision regarding ONLY ABA certificates.

Finally, in California, an ABA certificate is the primary way of qualifying as a paralegal pursuant to state law. As far as I know, California is the only state that has laws regulating paralegals.-DLP

I think what you mean is that California is the only state that has "the most stringent laws" regulating paralegals. Furthermore, an ABA certificate IS the primary way, BUT it is NOT the ONLY way! Please click on the following link:

www.caparalegal.org/PDF%20Files/Quest.pdf and read Item #3 section 2 on page 2, and you will see what I mean.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

48 months ago

Well, I don't think you HAVE to have an ABA approved paralegal certificate. Some places require it, for sure, but I have never worked for one. But when job hunting, having an ABA opens up more opportunities as does having a bachelors degree and having experience and having a CLA (which I don't have).

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jslinfla in Delray Beach, Florida

48 months ago

when job hunting, having an ABA opens up more opportunities as does having a bachelors degree and having experience and having a CLA (which I don't have).-Paralegal in Dallas, TX.

Thank you for bringing up the CLA credential. I have started studying for it and it is grueling. I came across a company called Mometrix Media that publishes among other things, "CLA/CP Exam Secrets." Here is the link to the webpage:

www.mo-media.com/cla/

My question is whether it is worth paying the $40.00 for this book to efficiently and effectively prepare for the CLA/CP Exam. Any thoughts?

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mary in Tampa, Florida

48 months ago

Here's my thought. If you can afford to squander the $40, then squander it. When preparing for a test, unless it's a book "well known" to be of assistance, then it is guesswork. The best choice is the CLA Manual.

There are several manufacturers for teacher certification study guides. Another company made a study guide for middle school integrated. Those who bought that study guide, the reviews were very poor.

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lolohy in Wilmington, Delaware

47 months ago

Wow, it sounds like some people have had a streak of bad luck, but that's life. I have been a legal assistant for over 10 years. I received by paralegal certificate from a local university and is currently working full-time for a top notch law firm in my state. Prior to working at this law firm, I worked part-time for a small law firm, supporting two attorneys. They were awesome. They also hired someone as a paralegal while I was there with no experience. This person was fressh out of school and they paid him well over the $10.00 per hour I saw someone write about in an earlier post. I have worked in places other than law firms and have had some horrible experiences. Just because you personally have one or two bad experiences in a law firm should not discredit the profession all together. If you continue to have bad experiences with every law firm and with every attorney that you work for, then maybe its time you take a look at yourself. Maybe you are carrying the wrong attitude around with you. Perhaps you need to change professions because it is not the job for you. There are so many areas of law in which you can work it is unbelievable. Find an area of law that would be interesting to you and go for it. One of my instructor's in my paralegal course is a partner in her firm and she said that they only hire paralegals fresh out of school because they like to train you their way. You will probably not get a paralegal job with no experience in a large law firm, but you can certainly be hired as a legal assistant making very good money in one. Unfortunatley, today the economy is affecting everyone. However, I haven't heard of any law firms laying off people because of it. I just started my job in August making well over $50.000.00 yearly. I say form your own opinion and go for it!!!

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MarissaH8637 in Sterling Heights, Michigan

47 months ago

"I speak only for myself, but there was nothing wrong with my attitude....unless you think working ten to twelve hours days regularly, including coming in as early as 5:30-6:00 a.m., putting up with an abrupt, rude attorney who, among other things, sometimes made fun of how you speak and who did not ask how you were after being hospitalized unexpectedly is indicative of a bad attitude."

This is the kind of stuff that is making me feel reaffirmed in my decision to walk away from the legal field. I agree with DLP... this truly is the way most attorneys are. I was a happier person before I began my legal schooling and career. Something about it sucked the life and joy right out of me. I say this to others not because I have 'sour grapes'. I say it because it's the truth. There are too many other careers out there that won't treat you like this. Coming in 2-3 hours early is something that should be commended and rewarded, or at least acknowledged in some positive way. And that's just terrible to not have any care or concern that you were hospitalized- and then make fun of you for something trivial on top of it. Reminds me of my last boss- I was sicker than a dog, feeling deathly ill. I couldn't call in because I knew everything would fall apart as she had several trials coming up. But instead saying something like "I hope you feel better" she instead commented that my shoes looked like hooker shoes. She asked me if I was going to go out streetwalking after work as my second job. Mind you I was wearing rather conservative black 4 inch heels. Not exactly something you swing around a stripper pole in. Looking back now, I would have told her yes. Yes, I'm going to go strip after work, because I can't live off your crap salary and need to make a REAL living! That's a joke, but not too far off from how I've felt many days...

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mary in Tampa, Florida

47 months ago

Recession-Proof Career #2 - Paralegal
Paralegals and legal assistants are an attorney's best friend. They perform many of the same tasks as lawyers, though by law they are not allowed to present cases in court.

Why it's stable: Recession? What recession? Paralegal pay is up 5.9 percent in 2010, according to a survey by ALM Legal Intelligence, a New York consulting firm. As law firms look to pass along more responsibilities from lawyers to paralegals in an effort to save money, paralegals will enjoy an increasingly rock-solid future. In fact, paralegal employment opportunities are expected to climb 28 percent through 2018, according to the Department of Labor.

Average salary: $46,120

How to get started: Earning a paralegal certificate or associate's degree can help you recession-proof your future in as little as six to 18 months.

It's on the Computer. It must be true. I'm laughing.

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MarissaH8637 in Sterling Heights, Michigan

47 months ago

I signed up for cosmetology school. I've had enough of this crap-ola, enough misery to last a lifetime. I pity the souls who walk ahead of me.

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MarissaH8637 in Sterling Heights, Michigan

47 months ago

And to all of the people who think DLP is just a Nasty Nate down on his luck- he's not. He is telling the truth. If you don't believe me talk to Mary in Tampa, listen to her stories about working 15 hours a week and feeling like having 100 dollars to spend at the grocery store is 'Christmas'. You've been warned.

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mary in Tampa, Florida

47 months ago

I certainly am much more "together" than I was two years ago. Although no full time job and now 52, I do not feel overwhelmed and doomed.

I remember all too well where I was emotionally and financially. I remember opening the mail from the Dept. of Children and Families, with the letter saying I was approved for food stamps, with the debit card, telling me I had $100 for immediate use. I sat there and read the letter several times, to be sure it was real. And I have three college degrees. I have no doubt if I was 30 instead of 52, I would have got a nice job.

I now have Florida teacher certification in English 5-9 (just registered and took the test, no test preparation); English 6-12 (had to buy Sparknotes Literature 101 for the literature); and Elementary Education(which I really did have to study for). My shorthand writing is now clean at 190. I bought a used laptop (TigerDirect).

I never again want to be at the mercy of an employer to pay my bills.

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mary in Tampa, Florida

47 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Interesting change from law. You sound like a creative person.

Good luck with your efforts.

My first thought was - wow, what a change. She's going to meet and talk to different people about different things every day.

Going to work should be fun, you should want to get up and go.
That is one thing I remember about court reporting. I spent several hours (or maybe an hour) with a few attorneys, whatever the depo was about, and that was my time with them. And then I worked at home.

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MarissaH8637 in Sterling Heights, Michigan

47 months ago

I know cosmetology is a huge switch. But, just like Mary expressed, I NEVER want to be at the mercy of an employer ever again. And while in a salon I surely will have some rules to adhere to, my ultimate success will come from my own work. I am not even 30 yet. But I'm old enough to know I'm not going to spend my working life helping someone else get rich... I'm going to help MYSELF get rich. Screw the lawyers and their slave wages!

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

47 months ago

Funny I was just talking to my hair dresser about this. I said to her something like, "It must be so cool to be able to work for yourself and see clients whenever you want to and you don't have to see anyone you don't want to see and you can work anywhere - big city, suburb, small town - it just seems so cool to me." (I was rambling in my jealousy.)

And she said, "Um, well, you just have to like to do hair." hahahaha - oh, yeah, it helps to like to do hair, too.

But then she tells me business is terrible now. She needs to have "x" number of people coming in for color every 4-6 weeks for her to make money. She doesn't make very much money on just cuts. There aren't enough of the old lady weekly "sets" anymore. She said she was down to just two of those. She says she makes about $1,000/month. She's in a very large salon where she gets to keep half of all of her business. She has worked for herself renting a booth, but walk-in traffic is non-existent and it's expensive to have to buy her supplies and color up front to keep herself stocked.

Maybe it's just her and not the whole industry. She's been doing this 25 years. She's also never had health insurance her entire life. Her back hurts too, but she is stuck in this profession where she has to stand up all day. Wow, I'm kinda a Debbie Downer today. Let's go back and talk about paralegal work.

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MarissaH8637 in Sterling Heights, Michigan

47 months ago

Paralegal in Dallas, Texas said: Funny I was just talking to my hair dresser about this. I said to her something like, "It must be so cool to be able to work for yourself and see clients whenever you want to and you don't have to see anyone you don't want to see and you can work anywhere - big city, suburb, small town - it just seems so cool to me." (I was rambling in my jealousy.)

And she said, "Um, well, you just have to like to do hair." hahahaha - oh, yeah, it helps to like to do hair, too.

But then she tells me business is terrible now. She needs to have "x" number of people coming in for color every 4-6 weeks for her to make money. She doesn't make very much money on just cuts. There aren't enough of the old lady weekly "sets" anymore. She said she was down to just two of those. She says she makes about $1,000/month. She's in a very large salon where she gets to keep half of all of her business. She has worked for herself renting a booth, but walk-in traffic is non-existent and it's expensive to have to buy her supplies and color up front to keep herself stocked.

Maybe it's just her and not the whole industry. She's been doing this 25 years. She's also never had health insurance her entire life. Her back hurts too, but she is stuck in this profession where she has to stand up all day. Wow, I'm kinda a Debbie Downer today. Let's go back and talk about paralegal work.

Thinking of that hairdresser is making me depressed, seriously. But the thought that makes me even more depressed is sitting around for another year without a paralegal job. Better to go after something I am passionate about and pick up a trade than sit on the couch. I don't know how long one can sit in front of the computer applying for jobs without going at least mildly insane. CNN and Oreo cookies have become my BFFs. Not cool at all.

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tmf1977 in Yonkers, New York

47 months ago

Being a paralegal for over ten years, I would only recommend this profession to those who are on the fence in going to law school. Out of three jobs I have held, only one position I was treated with respect (I was a paralegal for litigation counsel at a property casualty company).

One thing I have learned being a paralegal is that attorneys are horrible at management and delegating. You either will find yourself performing only administrative tasks, or you are expected to perform all of the duties as the attorneys for fraction of the cost. Given the current economy, the salary is no longer an incentive. I am seeing salaries offered as low as $30's for five years of experience. It is difficult to market a job if you have less than two years of experience, or over five years. At this time, many law firms, regardless of size of the firm, have been performing cutbacks. Even this past year, many of the major national law firms have laid off its support staff and some attorneys.

If one is sensitive and prefers feedback, law is not the field for you. The only time I received feedback was when something was wrong and the salary increases were also minimal. One should also take into consideration that there are many attorneys out of work as well as many recent law graduates who are now competing for paralegal positions.

I would recommend to anyone considering being a paralegal to outweigh the pros and cons. If you are lucky enough to find a law firm or in-house position which you are treated with respect, search no further. Those positions are hard to come by in the legal field.

Just my two cents...

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