Paralegal school - is it worth it? Probably not.

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dh in Northern CA, California

63 months ago

Ok. I did a little research on a paper I have to write for my Economics of Education class. My topic is on the rates of returns to education for what journal articles refer to as "proprietary" schools, in other words, vocational private schools that sometimes offer an AA but usually just a diploma or certificate.

I chose this topic because it seems that these schools charge a lot more than a typical four-year public university, but a degree from the public university will probably get the person a much better paying job.

I called the local paralegal school in my area. The program costs $12,580 if you come in with your general ed done, almost $26k (!!) if you start from scratch. My work always get faxes from this school, a profile of some of their recent grads and their skills and the pay they are seeking - $12-$15/hr. That's a hellofalot of tuition to pay for such low wages. My bachelor's degree will have costed me roughly $9000 when I'm done. Had I done all four years at a U, roughly $16000. Of course, that doesn't include books, supplies, housing. Neither do the numbers above for the paralegal school.

I found an intersting article that I haven't yet had time to read in its entirety, but so far, I've read that "Proprietary schools have substantially higher direct costs than community colleges..." and "Studies find that they don't substantially increase earnings..." and "They are controversial because the high rate of loan default" Apparently, the high default rate stems from the fact that it's high school drop outs and minorities who are most likely choose these schools, people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds who are not aware of the options they have.

To exacerbate all the above, being a paralegal or legal secretary is probably one of the worst jobs out there. The lack of advancement opportunity, but more importantly the hostile environment and abuse make it so not worth it even if the pay were decent.

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BFE in Richmond, Virginia

63 months ago

Why didn't you simply go to your local college/university or junior college instead of a proprietary college? They're WAY cheaper and often carry ABA accreditation as well. Here in Richmond, VA, we have a major university + a community college program, as well as 2 proprietary programs. Only 1, the community college program, is ABA accredited and costs WAY less than any of the other.

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

63 months ago

I went to a proprietary paralegal school. You had to already have a bachelors degree to get into the program. It cost $7500 and took 5 months. I got the paralegal certificate 15 years after my bachelors degree. There would have been no point to go to a "real" college because I already had a college degree and it would have taken a lot longer. My bachelors degree cost, I don't know, at least $50,000 (1980s). The paralegal school I went to was ABA approved.

The certificate led to an entry level career oriented position. I have been in the field 10 years. I don't find the office abusive at all. It can be challenging. It's hard trying to always produce perfect flawless work.

Half my paralegal class never found a job working as a paralegal.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

63 months ago

Half my paralegal class never found a job working as a paralegal.

You live in Texas, and half of your class didn't get a job as a working paralegal. Texas is supposed to be the land of opportunity.

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dh in Northern CA, California

63 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I certainly won't argue with your concluding points, dh, about being a paralegal or legal secretary, and especially regarding the hostile environment and abuse...

Hi DLP - I was thinking about you as I wrote that and hoped that I wasn't being offensive. My paralegal certificate from UCLA cost me $3000 in 2000 and took 4 months. They required a bachelor's degree, but I was able to get in, if I recall, because of my court reporting background. I don't understand why some of them wnat a degree for paralegal school. I don't think of paralegal as that kind of career that should require it. For me, going to paralegal school was the first of a series of several bad decisions that I made. I never did land a paralegal job because word processing positions were paying much more than the entry level paralegal positions.

I think the prices you and I paid are reasonable considering the pay potential. I think $26K is extremely unreasonable when considering the pay. We have a lot of what I call "fly-by-night" vocational schools that charge A LOT of money for jobs that don't pay that great. For example, I had a student med tech draw my blood recently. She's not going to school to be a nurse, something much more basic than that. She says the job will pay about $12/hour and told me where she's going to school; I bet the tuition is around $10K a year.

It just seems that these little vocational schools prepare people for jobs that, on average, have a lower pay potential (in comparison to what a bachelor's degree could get), yet they cost the most. Of course, that depends on the degree AND I'm assuming we're in a normal economy.

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dh in Northern CA, California

63 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Absolutely not, dh, not in the least... So, dh, as an Econ major, whaddaya think will happen with the economy?

Honeslty, DLP, I don't know what I think about the economy. With 15 units and working 20 hours, I don't have time for TV or reading the newspaper. I even disconnected my cable because I never had time for it. But watching CNN and CNBC would enlighten me, to say the least. I keep thinking I'm going to have it reconnected and have put it off. Last semester, the economy was something we discussed in every all of my classes, and I often felt out of the loop because I spent NO time reading newspaper or watching the news. This semester, unfortunately, we aren't discussing the economy in my classes.

I have subscriptions to both Newsweek and Bizweek, which I rarely get to read. I think that people keep waiting for it to get better. They talk about it like it's going to happen next month. Cycles go up and down. Yeah, our economy will get better, but it could take 2 or 3 years. The company for which I work didn't start to suffer until after the holidays, and last week, each department was required to come up with a "contingency" layoff plan. The last two quarters of last year, the company did unusually well. It's unpredictable.

I'm embarrassed to say this, but I feel totally sheltered and out of the loop. Until the company started talking about layoffs last week, I had been, for the most part, unaffected by the economy and have felt very fortunate.

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: You're right. The media does make it sound as if the economy will improve next week. Probably not - though the stock market is doing better.

Read a Cliff Notes on Keynes and you'll be up to speed in no time.

DLP, I have been reading your posts for a while. Is being a paralegal REALLY as bad as you say? I have been thinking about becoming one because I love writing, researching, and helping people. Did you feel like you were able to help people in your role? I would eventually like to use my knowledge of the legal field to help animals. But the more I read your posts, I think maybe I'd be better off just helping animals in other ways. I am just so confused and need to make a career choice in my life as I'm 25 and have a year of college finished. Should I pick a different career path? I hear from some people that Paralegals can make great money and have great careers. Are well paying jobs in the field hard to come by?

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

where's the next part?

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas said: I do very little writing from scratch, no research and the only people I am helping are my attorney-bosses. I can't think of any area of law that involves animals.

My starting salary as a paralegal was $30,000 and is now $48,000 and it's my 10th year working. There are currently very few available paralegal jobs.

I'm honestly shocked that you don't seem to be aware of any area of the law that helps animals. Just look at what recently went on in California. Animal law is very important. There's even this:
www.aldf.org/article.php?id=269
The Animal Legal Defense Fund...and if I became a paralegal, I would definitely join.

I just wish the field sounded more encouraging because I think it sounds like it has the potential to be a good career. However, being treated horribly be lawyers would really be upsetting to me...and unhealthy. I can't imagine going through that kind of stress on a daily basis. I think they would be very intimdating people.

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

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

In my next firm, the partner had been on law review. No chance of him forking over any legal research to me.

Yes. My experience is paralegals spend more time working with clients than attorneys. Paralegals are more accessible to clients than attorneys. But, ultimately, attorneys get all the credit and glory. I think that's because, bottom line, paralegal is a legal support vocation. I honestly don't know what legal specialty(ies) would involve animals. But I agree with you. You may find being a veterinary technician to be more satisfying. Vet techs actually work with animals hands-on. Define "great." Once again, I think paralegal is a tough vocation in a tough industry.

As far as well-paying jobs being hard to come by, at least around here all paralegal jobs are hard to come by. This market is very competitive, even in good times. Very few jobs come open and many excellent people compete for them. No matter how good you think you are, other people will always be better. That can be said, of course, for all vocations.

Perhaps at one time the vocation was wide open; schools would advertise that paralegal is a growth vocation. Now it appears the legal industry has absorbed all the paralegals it can and is now jettisoning many of them because of the economy.

Hope all this helps. Good luck with however you proceed.

I guess by great, I would think $50-75k would qualify as great.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

63 months ago

Sidney:

The people on this board are not the be all and end all representing the Paralegal profession. Yes, paralegal can be a stressful job, yes, there are attorneys who can be difficult to work for, BUT - any job can be stressful and you can have a difficult boss in any profession. Not all attorneys are as 'horrible' as often described on this board.

If you really want a balanced perspective, I suggest you check out the LAT ListServe at www.legalassistanttoday.com/lat-forum/default.htm as well as the many paralegal groups on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great resource as you can connect with many notable Paralegals such as Vicki Voisin, Cheri Estrin, Jeannie Johnston, and many others. You really want to talk to those who are successful in this profession and ask them what it took and how they did it.

As for animal law, that is a very niche profession and I'm sure paralegal jobs in that area are few and far between. You would certainly have to go where those jobs are. If working with animals is your primary goal, you may want to consider either going to law school so you can make more of that work come to you and really be effective, or choose another way to help animals. Hope this is helpful.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

63 months ago

Folks, we all have our different opinions.

I too worked free hours - for my first personal injury attorney - five years. I did learn a lot and got experience - but he kept telling me I was "salary." I finally left.

At Ruden and Fowler, they were both big law firms - and we got paid for the hours we worked.

I chose to work for the first job. My "married boyfriend attorney" asked questions and kept telling me to get another job. I finally did when I went full time to get my Bachelor's Degree. I never again worked without getting paid. And when George (PI) asked me to stay after, I reminded him of what the hours were and those are the hours I got paid for - and unless he paid me, I would not work for free.

Bottom line is:
(1) Don't work for free. Unless you are getting paid, don't work. If the attorney says something, remind him you are not getting paid the same amount of money he is and you need to be paid.

(2) If your attorney is beyond normal in behavior, then go look for another job. Not all attorneys act like that.

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Working Paralegal in Arlington, Virginia

63 months ago

I have been a paralegal for over 20 years. Here's the thing: there are many good things about being a paralegal and there are plenty of people out there promoting the profession as the fastest growing, etc. I don't believe any one on this board has ever said they are the "be all and end all representing the paralegal profession." Their experiences, whether good or bad, are just as important to hear as "those who are successful in this profession" - although just because a paralegal has had a bad experience in a law firm does not mean they are not successful. If you are really interested in becoming a paralegal, you can't know if it is right for you unless you hear both the good and bad that is out there. So read these boards. Connect with those "notable" Paralegals Jane Do Girl suggests. Call a local law firm in your area, tell them you are considering becoming a paralegal and ask if any of their paralegals would be willing to talk to you about their work experiences. Make sure you fully understand what a paralegal job entails. Understand that right now with this economy many law firms are cutting a lot of support staff. Then you can hopefully decide for yourself if it would be a good career choice for you. Good luck. I am sure you will be successful in whatever you choose. (By the way, I am also Working Paralegal in Austin, Texas)

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

Wow..this is a forum and people can add other points. No need to be so rude. There are animal rights attorneys, and yes, it is a niche which I'm well aware of, but I was asking more about the opportunity that paralegals have to get involved in animal law. It would be more of a volunteer effort, but I thought someone might know. You don't seem like the type who would volunteer though because you're jumping down someone's back on a message board who is just trying to seek information.

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Jane Do Girl in Milton, Florida

63 months ago

Sidney:

Again, I refer you to the LAT ListServe and LinkedIn - much broader audience from all over the country, someone there may have more specific information about volunteering in animal law. Also, google is a wonderful tool. ;-)

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

Jane Do Girl in Milton, Florida said: Sidney:

Again, I refer you to the LAT ListServe and LinkedIn - much broader audience from all over the country, someone there may have more specific information about volunteering in animal law. Also, google is a wonderful tool. ;-)

Thanks, Jane! Your replies have been very helpful and encouraging.

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

63 months ago

sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee said: Wow..this is a forum and people can add other points. No need to be so rude. There are animal rights attorneys, and yes, it is a niche which I'm well aware of, but I was asking more about the opportunity that paralegals have to get involved in animal law. It would be more of a volunteer effort, but I thought someone might know. You don't seem like the type who would volunteer though because you're jumping down someone's back on a message board who is just trying to seek information.

If you are this sensitive, you don't want to work in the legal industry. Attorney are tough because there is a lot at stake. You have to have thick skin and not take things personal.

I am trying to tell you that being an animal rights paralegal is pro bono work - volunteer work. Going to and paying for paralegal school with the hopes of finding a paying job doing animal rights is foolish and misguided. You might be able to find a $10/hr job working for a solo practitioner who might get some dog bite cases.

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

Assume much? I've already researched this and there are animal rights attorneys and that's all that they deal with. I'm interested in this field because of the work itself. As far I'm concerned, being able to help animals have a voice would just be an added benefit (even if it were pro bono work).

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

Wow, you both like to make assumptions. I said that I would seek out volunteer opporunities to help in animal law, but neither of you know much about it, so who are you to give me advice on the matter just because you're a paralegal? You don't specialize in that area of law. I wouldn't seek out that position specifically because there are only a handful of animal rights attorneys in the United States.

I'm grateful for any and all advice that anyone can give me on this message board - the good and the bad. I came here to get the truth. DLP, I'm going to be totally honest with you though...you seem to discourage EVERYONE who comes here from becoming a paralegal and it seems like you do this because you are currently unemployed in the industry. It's like the saying "misery loves company." You remind me of that quote so much. I don't mean that disrespectfully, but I lurked for a long time and read your posts before ever responding and truly, you are so discouraging to anyone who seeks advice on this matter. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience in your career, but I know for a fact that there are paralegals who love their jobs and not ALL attorneys could be horrible to work for. My own grandfather was an attorney and so was my uncle.

For the record, I'm undecided on whether I'd like to go into this profession at this point, but I'm just calling it how I see it.

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sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee

63 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Nothing wrong with that, but realize that animal rights law is a niche/boutique specialty. You will have limited employment opportunities.for that job.
.

I believe I stated quite clearly in my previous posts that I know that this is a niche area of the law and that the opportunities woud be strictly volunteer based. This is something that's in my heart-I would not feel comfortable profiting from something like that...I would WANT to volunteer for the effort.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

63 months ago

Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas said: If you are this sensitive, you don't want to work in the legal industry. Attorney are tough because there is a lot at stake. You have to have thick skin and not take things personal.

I am trying to tell you that being an animal rights paralegal is pro bono work - volunteer work. Going to and paying for paralegal school with the hopes of finding a paying job doing animal rights is foolish and misguided. You might be able to find a $10/hr job working for a solo practitioner who might get some dog bite cases.

When I read the comments the first time, that is exactly what I thought. If you are this sensitive, then you are not fit for the legal office.

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Cashville, tn

62 months ago

I'm currently thinking about attending kaplan career institute In nashville for paralegal program. Does anyone know if this is a good school? I'm medical assistant right now, is the paralegal pay better than ma pay?

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Cashville, tn

62 months ago

thanks for your input. I don't mind working with demanding professionals. I have been working with doctors for 5 years and I have learned to deal with those type of people. But you did have a point, finding a job maybe more difficult as a paralegal. On the other hand medical assistant jobs are everywhere. I'm just getting tired of the medical field. Law is something that interests me but I don't want to waste time and money, I want to make sure whatever I choose is a good investment. So thanks for the feedback...

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amygdala in Glendale, Arizona

62 months ago

This thread reminds me of a medical billing forum I once joined when I was seeking information on the ins and outs of the business. All the 'veterans' were rude to newcomers and basically posted crap for each other to read. If you're in the business already, why even bother? What do you get out of it-- a chance to roll your eyes at all the idealistic newbies? How cynical.

Sidney, I sympathize with you; seek info elsewhere.

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amygdala in Glendale, Arizona

62 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: No, not at all. Merely a chance to educate newbies in the reality of the legal industry. In this situation, "Sidney" asked me if paralegal is really as bad as I have written in other posts. I answered that I feel it is. I provided examples. Although he knew or should have known how I might answer, he apparently did not like my answer when he read it:

Well....he asked. Finally, this discussion has been civil, direct, straightforward, honest and, yes, at times, blunt. But that's what one experiences in law. Now, Amy, how can we help you?

I'll seek info elsewhere, thanks. Have fun being straightforward.

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Linda Walker in Plattsburgh, New York

62 months ago

I obtained my paralegal to supplement my business (healthcare billing, practice management consulting) so I work for myself, I took my time in my education and spread it out over a few years. I can earn up to $100 an hour just for paralegal services, depending on the work. I've found that adding that to my existing business has been extremely beneficial!

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

62 months ago

Have you actually billed out $100 an hour? Probably the most use you're getting out of your paralegal (or legal) knowledge is for value of running your own business, not actually getting work from attorneys.

Sounds good that you can bill out $100.00 an hour depending on the service. That sounds like the hype you get from the college.

Any attorney who used your service would have to bill HIS client - and very few insurance companies are willing today to pay any attorney for paralegal services that are outsourced. And I can't imagine any attorney outsourcing paralegal services when they have their own or a good secretary can do the same thing.

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Linda Walker in Plattsburgh, New York

62 months ago

As a healthcare consultant I can do such things as review managed care contracts and negotiations along with fee schedule negotiations, credentialing apps, etc.
I get paid directly for my services by my clients. No hype, as i said it's a "supplemental" service. My consulting rates are $150-$275 per hour again determined by the services.

No hype from any one college, as I stated in my earlier post I spread out my education over a few years because of the lack of time I had to devote to full time student status. At this point in time I am still contemplating going further, possibly to law school.

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Linda Walker in Plattsburgh, New York

62 months ago

Perhaps you need to READ again my posts. I DO NOT WORK for attorney's, my clients are physicians and I don't give legal advice, I provide the same level of services a paralegal would for CERTAIN things such as credentialing, contract negotiations/review.. the client has their own attorney on retainer to finalize anything more than the scope of my services.
I actually do NOT have to have a paralegal certificate to do the work I do, my clients just prefer that I have the added training/education, it's JUST a plus to EXTEND the services..
BTW, I've been doing this for a while, and like I mentioned 3 times already, it's just a "supplement" I've spent over 20 years in the healthcare administrative industry, the services i use my paralegal certificate are easy compared to the other things I do.

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Linda Walker in Plattsburgh, New York

62 months ago

"Providing legal advice is only one legal service. Other legal services include preparing forms for clients, etc. If a "paralegal" performs such services for others WITHOUT attorney supervision, that paralegal may be practicing law without a license. Practicing law without a license is illegal. Paralegals have it drilled in to them they cannot give legal advice and not practice law. "

I agree, and again reiterate that the services I provide can be provided without the paralegal certificate.

"paralegal is a support position for attorneys"

Yes I think this is where I confused everyone so let me try and better explain.. I don't ACT or work AS a paralegal for my clients (healthcare providers), but RATHER the education I received to obtain my paralegal allows me to add more value-based services. For example, sifting through managed care contracts, negotiating with payors, etc. All those services CAN be done without the paralegal designation.

Hope that serves to better clarify.

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Working Paralegal in Ashburn, Virginia

62 months ago

sidney vallon in Nashville, Tennessee said: I'm honestly shocked that you don't seem to be aware of any area of the law that helps animals. Just look at what recently went on in California. Animal law is very important. There's even this:
www.aldf.org/article.php?id=269
The Animal Legal Defense Fund...and if I became a paralegal, I would definitely join.

I just wish the field sounded more encouraging because I think it sounds like it has the potential to be a good career. However, being treated horribly be lawyers would really be upsetting to me...and unhealthy. I can't imagine going through that kind of stress on a daily basis. I think they would be very intimdating people.

Sidney: It is not that any of the paralegals that comment on this board want to discourage you from going into the legal field. It's that, depending on what firm you hire on with and the "culture" in that firm, you could find yourself in a really unhappy situation. As an example, go to abovethelaw.com - specifically here: abovethelaw.com/2009/06/bingham_mccutchen_staffer_does.php. If you read the comments that follow that article, you might get an idea of the attitudes that do exist in law firms. I have worked in the legal field for over 20 years. I almost always discourage young people who talk to me about being a paralegal from doing it. It is no longer the position it used to be. I always suggest that if they want to work in law, go to law school. There are many happy paralegals. But I guess in my own experience, having worked with many partners, I have heard too many attorneys express their disdain and lack of respect for anyone in a law firm who is not an attorney.

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Working Paralegal in Ashburn, Virginia

62 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Or if they don't express their disdain in words they express it by their actions and how they treat their nonlawyer assistants and (not) reward them.

Nice to hear from you, Working.

Absolutely correct, DLP. I don't get to read these boards as often as I'd like, but when I do I always enjoy your comments, DLP!

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Miscarlett in Gulf Breeze, Florida

33 months ago

People often confuse being a legal secretary with being a paralegal, they are two different jobs and require different skills. Some people may be able to walk into a legal secretary position and be trained to perform the job, but it does not work that way in a paralegal position, you are expected to know the law, especially procedure, and be able to jump right in and do the job. The fact is, if you want to work in a decent sized firm that does offer good pay, benefits, and room for advancement you are going to be required to have a degree, be certified, or both. In certain areas of practice such as those involving insurance companies, the clients themselves require certification and/or degrees in order for the paralegal to be approved for billing. As for the pay, it all depends on geography and the type of law you are working in, there are some paralegals making six figure salaries. Yes, it is a stressful business, generally speaking, people's lives are in the balance, whether literally as with criminal law, monitarily with civil, and of course there should be no need for explanation relative to family law. Duties will vary from lawyer to lawyer and firm to firm, there is no one size fits all opinion or description of a paralegal position.

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sandy in Bell, California

28 months ago

thanks to everyone for their comments..i think i found what i needed to hear about wanting to become a paralegal..i wasn't sure what school to go to or if becoming a paralegal was the right choice for me.!!

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chrissd in Bakersfield, California

25 months ago

To you who said that taking a paralegal couse is not worth it. You are shilling for the powers that be who want us all stupid and unable to defend our present fiction status. Step aside-you're part of the dumbing down process. Get smart and sign all documents with "without predjudice" above your signature. They will probobly dismiss your case.

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Beware of attorneys in Lutz, Florida

24 months ago

Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas said: I went to a proprietary paralegal school. You had to already have a bachelors degree to get into the program. It cost $7500 and took 5 months. I got the paralegal certificate 15 years after my bachelors degree. There would have been no point to go to a "real" college because I already had a college degree and it would have taken a lot longer. My bachelors degree cost, I don't know, at least $50,000 (1980s). The paralegal school I went to was ABA approved.

The certificate led to an entry level career oriented position. I have been in the field 10 years. I don't find the office abusive at all. It can be challenging. It's hard trying to always produce perfect flawless work.

Half my paralegal class never found a job working as a paralegal.

I have 24 concecutive years in the Personal Injury Field in Tampa; Firm just split due to a nasty divorce; since I have been unemployed, attorneys do NOT want to hear that you are going to Paralegal schools because they do NOT want to pay you for the extra knowledge but will ask you to do the work anyway. Employers are taking much advantage of people looking for work in desparation times by paying them receptionist wages. Beware and be very selective; boutique firm is your best bet !

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Johnny in San Diego, California

24 months ago

I completed my paralegal program at USD something like five years ago. I was lucky to find a job in the beginning, but was laid off. Never found work again. I don't know any of my classmates who found work.

In California we have a profession called a Legal Document Assistant, which allows you to help people fill out legal forms without an attorney. Paralegal certificate is one way to qualify for LDA, but of course the professors at USD never said anything about that, because it would cut them out of the loop.

It's also ridiculous that the ABA requires law school to take the Bar Exam. The cost of law school is hundreds of thousands of dollars which forces attorneys to charge outrageous fees which impoverished people cannot afford.

The ABA is a cartel trying to impose a monopoly. They rake in the dough, while the little guy gets screwed.

Down with the ABA! Down with the 1 percent!

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Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

Johnny in San Diego, California said: It's also ridiculous that the ABA requires law school to take the Bar Exam. The cost of law school is hundreds of thousands of dollars which forces attorneys to charge outrageous fees which impoverished people cannot afford.
Actually, individuals states determine educational requirements to take the bar. A few states allow so-called law readers to take the bar.

Plenty of services exists for impoverished people to obtain legal help. There is Legal Aid. Also where I live lawyers are required to take at least one pro bono case a year. We also have the Thursday Night Bar, where people can obtain legal help for free.

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Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

chrissd in Bakersfield, California said: To you who said that taking a paralegal couse is not worth it. You are shilling for the powers that be who want us all stupid and unable to defend our present fiction status. Step aside-you're part of the dumbing down process. Get smart and sign all documents with "without predjudice" above your signature. They will probobly dismiss your case.
Are you a licensed attorney? If not, you should not be giving legal advice.

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

23 months ago

Paralegal in Denver, Colorado said: Are you a licensed attorney ? If not, you should not be giving legal advice.

DLP is back.

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j68 in Fairfield, Connecticut

21 months ago

Best bet is do not enroll in a Paralegal school that doesn't have a internship program.

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Hopefulparalegal in Miami, Florida

16 months ago

I am really worried by reading a lot of the comments on this forum about finding a job once I complete my education. I am doing an online program that costs thousands of dollars and used my dad as a cosignor. I don't have any experience in this field and my program is not ABA approved or has an internship. I have gotten a taste of legal research and dislike it. I wanted to go into the legal field because my career aspirations are to be a lawyer and go to law school. I hope this field will someone give me a little experience and glimpse into the legal field and also give me the opportunity to earn some money to pay off debts and save for school along the way. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off getting a masters degree instead. My fingers are crossed, but at this point I don't feel good about my chances.

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Johnny in San Diego, California

16 months ago

Hopefulparalegal in Miami, Florida said: I am really worried by reading a lot of the comments on this forum about finding a job once I complete my education. I am doing an online program that costs thousands of dollars and used my dad as a cosignor. I don't have any experience in this field and my program is not ABA approved or has an internship. I have gotten a taste of legal research and dislike it. I wanted to go into the legal field because my career aspirations are to be a lawyer and go to law school. I hope this field will someone give me a little experience and glimpse into the legal field and also give me the opportunity to earn some money to pay off debts and save for school along the way. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off getting a masters degree instead. My fingers are crossed, but at this point I don't feel good about my chances.

You can still get an internship if your program does not have one already. Just call around and ask to work for free.

Honestly, this may sound crazy or outrageous, but you will have a better chance of getting hired as a paralegal if you are a woman. It is a male dominated profession and most lawyers are men and want to have a woman beneath them. Sounds harsh but that is what I have seen.

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beginagainla in Los Angeles, California

16 months ago

Before spending $ on any vocational training, I would run a keyword search to see just how many jobs come up. If you were in Los Angeles, I would tell you not to waste your money because it's a field that's just holding on by a thread. Also (and perhaps it's a regional thing), but here in L.A., some male attorneys are openly disrespectful and demeaning towards male paralegals and legal assistants. They don't respect them, don't want to hear them, and certainly don't want to pay them. They have much more regard for an active law student than a paralegal who graduated top of his class.

If it were my son or daughter, I would steer them away from paying a private vocational school for the following: paralegal, legal secretary, medical secretary, medical coding, and medical/legal transcription. It bothers me when I see these vocational schools advertising certificate programs for low-demand careers, credits for which are often not transferable to a regular college. Choose carefully.

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emarie in Pass Christian, Mississippi

7 months ago

It's also about the area. I'm a legal assistant for a company based out of PA and my starting pay $16.83. I started as an admin for the VP, Legal and Human Resources. Was promoted 6 months later to a legal assistant and now 3.5 years after starting at said company, I earn $23 an hour. So to me, it is worth it. There is plenty of opportunity for advancement. I've seen quite a number of positions that have a starting pay around $60-$75K a year. It's about the years of experience as well. For me, I have no intentions to stop as a paralegal. I want to go on to law school but am waiting until my husband retires from the military. So for the time being, I am earning my bachelor's degree to continue work in this area. You are required to have at least a bachelor's to be considered for law school and I'd rather earn one that helps me with my current career path.

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Top Paralegal in Hollywood, Florida

3 months ago

dh in Northern CA, California said: To exacerbate all the above, being a paralegal or legal secretary is probably one of the worst jobs out there. The lack of advancement opportunity, but more importantly the hostile environment and abuse make it so not worth it even if the pay were decent.

I am shocked by your comments: If you don't like being a paralegal... don't be. I am an integral member of our litigation team, my research is sought after daily (I am a certified Master Legal Researcher), my firm is on the cutting edge of our area of law, and I love what I do.

I also earn in excess of 70k per year with bonuses and full benefits. Hardly what I would call "entry level." Indeed, usually I have far more experience than attorneys handing cases at my firm, and our clients know this and ask for my involvement accordingly. Additionally (if I meet my billable hours), the bonuses are excellent.

Being an active paralegal is NOT a secretary... but instead, you must be able to knock heads with the best of them, including judges, judicial assistants, and government attorneys. We are not just paper pushers, but instead, every aspect of a case can be directed by a dedicated paralegal.

It's actually quite easy: if you are in a hostile environment where your work is not valued... LEAVE. Valued paralegals are worth their weight in gold. Find one attorney who would not give his or her eye teeth to find a competent professional who could be counted on in every aspect of their practice, and I'd chew my arm off. The paralegal profession is a lot of fun, interesting and as rewarding as you make it. Remember, the attorney gets the client initially; thereafter, everything that happens is your baby. BE THE GOTO GUY on the case, and you are a winner at any law firm.

Just my two cents... I'll get off my soap box now.

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Top Paralegal in Hollywood, Florida

3 months ago

Johnny in San Diego, California said:

Honestly, this may sound crazy or outrageous, but you will have a better chance of getting hired as a paralegal if you are a woman. It is a male dominated profession and most lawyers are men and want to have a woman beneath them. Sounds harsh but that is what I have seen.

Sorry, I respectfully disagree. Males are hired instantly, as we are "part of the group" IF you know what you are doing. I've been in the field for many years, and each and every time I have been "unemployed," by choice or change in ownership/management of a firm, I was hired within a day or at best, a few days.

I've been working for my most recent firm for 6 weeks... the last firm I was with for 4 years (I was the manager of the legal department for a publicly traded firm on the NYSE which was just purchased by another company and they put in their own middle managers) and the time between those two jobs; about an hour. I am the author of an article in Chere Estrin's book, The Paralegal Career Guide, where I specifically write about obtaining a job as a paralegal... it's easy IF you know what that firm NEEDS as a paralegal. Your research about the firm is what will make you DIFFERENT than others applying for the job. Know their cases, know who are the players in the firm, what types of cases are their hot buttons, and you have a leg up on everyone else just emailing a resume from Monster.com. Make yourself different, call attention to yourself, and you can move far faster and easier than if you are "just a woman." Law firms are usually male dominated; males are easily accepted as paralegals. Attorneys don't care about your sex. They only care about "Can YOU do the job and can they bill for it?"

Good luck with your job search.

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Top Paralegal in Hollywood, Florida

3 months ago

Miscarlett in Gulf Breeze, Florida said: People often confuse being a legal secretary with being a paralegal, they are two different jobs and require different skills. Some people may be able to walk into a legal secretary position and be trained to perform the job, but it does not work that way in a paralegal position, you are expected to know the law , especially procedure, and be able to jump right in and do the job. The fact is, if you want to work in a decent sized firm that does offer good pay, benefits, and room for advancement you are going to be required to have a degree, be certified, or both. In certain areas of practice such as those involving insurance companies, the clients themselves require certification and/or degrees in order for the paralegal to be approved for billing . As for the pay, it all depends on geography and the type of law you are working in, there are some paralegals making six figure salaries. Yes, it is a stressful business , generally speaking, people's lives are in the balance, whether literally as with criminal law, monitarily with civil, and of course there should be no need for explanation relative to family law. Duties will vary from lawyer to lawyer and firm to firm, there is no one size fits all opinion or description of a paralegal position.

Your comments are insightful and right on the money! Bravo (or Brava as the case may be). Degrees and certification are mandatory in large firms where you can be paid more. You will also be competing for jobs with those who have the above, so getting them are the difference in how much you are worth in the marketplace.

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Top Paralegal in Hollywood, Florida

3 months ago

Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida said: Any attorney who used your service would have to bill HIS client - and very few insurance companies are willing today to pay any attorney for paralegal services that are outsourced. And I can't imagine any attorney outsourcing paralegal services when they have their own or a good secretary can do the same thing.

Mary: A good secretary does not know how to cite case law, prepare an appeal, save someone's life on death row or get the kids back from the maniac husband who just ran away to another country in the middle of a divorce. Only a dedicated, knowledgeable paralegal can make that happen at a cost reasonably affordable to a client. Indeed, there is a massive difference between even a well-qualified legal secretary who fills out forms than a well-qualified paralegal who can prepare a Federal appeal with appropriate citations to the record of the case. It ALL depends on the law firm as to how it uses its paralegals, and that's where knowing the firm's culture can make all the difference. By joining the paralegal associations, you will easily get an idea what it is like working at local firms, and this is a great way to network to find information.

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Top Paralegal in Hollywood, Florida

3 months ago

Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida said: If you really want a balanced perspective, I suggest you check out the LAT ListServe at www.legalassistanttoday.com/lat-forum/default.htm as well as the many paralegal groups on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great resource as you can connect with many notable Paralegals such as Vicki Voisin, Cheri Estrin, Jeannie Johnston, and many others. You really want to talk to those who are successful in this profession and ask them what it took and how they did it.
Chere (paralegal superconference organizer) and Jeannie (Paralegal list serve boards) are excellent resources!!! Great references!

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