Paralegal Salaries & Job Market in California?

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Danielle in Seattle, Washington

78 months ago

Hi everyone,

I'd appreciate any advice anyone has. I 24 and I have a BA in Literature and am debating between becoming a high school teacher or a paralegal. I want to get an ABA approved certificate from either UCLA extension or the University of San Diego. Can anyone tell me about the job market for paralegals in California? Based on job ads, it looks quite strong.

Also, could anyone tell me what paralegals with a BA and an ABA certificate can make (to start, after a few years....). Averages from the different websites range from around 30,000 to 60,000.

And some websites say that experienced paralegals in California can make up to 100,000. Can anyone in the field give me a realistic idea?

Thanks so much!

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Robin in La Grange, Illinois

78 months ago

I am in the same position as you, only in Chicago. I WAS an English teacher. I'm thinking you should at least make in the mid-30s to start, plus bonus and overtime. I'm a bit older and did some work part-time at a law firm, so I'm hoping to make a bit more. I'm glad I tried teaching English, but I'm also really glad I left. If you enjoy the high school scene, you might like teaching. If you want to make money, it seems like being a paralegal is a better long-term strategy.

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caliparalegal in San Jose, California

71 months ago

I live in California.
I am entry level and make 60k a year.
My boss said in 4 years i can make 100K a year if i stay with his firm.
I love this state.

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Tina in Baltimore, Maryland

66 months ago

I am also interested in moving to CA (Preferably San Fran). I will be graduating in two years with my AA in paralegal studies from an ABA approved school. What is the average entry level salary like in the area? How did you find your job caliparalegal? I really want to start networking now so when the time comes I can up and go!

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Legalmagic in Los Angeles, California

64 months ago

Paralegal for 3 years in Los Gatos, California said: I have a BA degree and have taken a 2 classes at the local community college AFTER I was hired. I work in an Estate Planning and Trust office handling post trust administration for the most part. Very rewarding work, M-F 9-5.... great hours. Our office does not do litigation so the environment is usually non stress... but there are days like at any job. My salary is $56K + benefits (med & retirement) I have my own office and work alot independently. Background in accounting/finance very helpful. LOVE my job !

Wow! It is very refreshing to read a positive statement about the paralegal profession. I have been purusing many of the different topics, and needless to say, the majority of them are very negative towards the industry. I am very glad to see you enjoy your job. Do you have any openings? I do have one question for you? How did you land a paralegal job in Estate Planning? This has been an area I have been looking into and it is a tough nut to crack without the prior experience. If you have any insight on getting around the "expereince" thing please, I would love to hear about it.

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Moe in Paramount, California

64 months ago

All, sad to say, at present the paralegal market in So Cal is very thin. The entire legal industry is hurting and layoffs are nationwide.

Ck abovethelaw.com - good comments re the legal industry and news re recent mass layoffs.

Best, m

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

64 months ago

Yeah, I've been following abovethelaw.com and lawshucks.com and the layoffs of staff and attorneys is just amazing. If you read the comments it is even more interesting. Lawyers with nothing to do, summer programs cancelled, new hires start date moved into 2010, people highest in the food chain hoarding billables, etc.

Great read!!

Meanwhile the mid-sized firms are doing pretty good as the big corporations realize they can save money using smaller firms who have lower billing rates.

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loyalramfan in Los Angeles, California

64 months ago

Moe in Paramount, California said: All, sad to say, at present the paralegal market in So Cal is very thin. The entire legal industry is hurting and layoffs are nationwide.

Ck abovethelaw.com - good comments re the legal industry and news re recent mass layoffs.

Best, m

What's happening in our firm is sort of strange. We are totally out of office space and just signed a lease (long story.) They need to hire more attorneys and the paralegals were told we may have to give up our office and work in CUBICLES. Now I can give up my office with a view and have an inner office, but to be put in a cubicle did not go over well with the paralegals. Matter of privacy, concentration, storing files, etc. We make money for the firm and should have some perks, such as an office. So it just happened that they fired two atty (really don't know the details, but do know it had to do with productivity. Rumor has it that they paralegals were more productive than those two attys, and they let go of the contract atty.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

64 months ago

loyalramfan in Los Angeles, California said: CUBICLES.

We already got moved to cubicles. It's ridiculous in some ways. There is so much noise in our cube farm it sounds like a call center. I can't make a call if the lady in the next cube is on the phone. I have to wait until she's done so I can hear the person on the other end of my phone.

There's no privacy. I know the business of everyone sitting around me. But then, you can overhear stuff that will help you in your job if you are sitting by the right people. I'm more in the loop than I have ever been. My space is neater. I can't store boxed anymore. The firm has to make space for all of our boxes that used to be in my office.

Overall, though, it's not as big a deal as I thought it would be. Some are still mad about it, but I got over it. The confidentiality issue isn't really there since as an employee I really can't disclose anything I hear at work anyway whether I work on the case or not. Yacky lady next to me is in a different area of law and pretty soon I think I will be fully qualified to work in that area after all I have witnessed in her cube.

Apparently at the Firm Adminstrator conventions they have been discussing this and doubling up in offices for over a year. It's inevitable. Besides the office walls are so thin it's just a false sense of security. I can hear everything going on in the offices near me.

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texansrule in Houston, Texas

63 months ago

Legalmagic in Los Angeles, California said: I have never heard of an Entry Level Paralegal, in California or any other state in the Union, start out at $60K.

I was able to land an entry-level position fresh out of paralegal school that begins at $75,000.

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texansrule in Houston, Texas

63 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: With all due respect to you, I don't believe it.

Please provide some details about the job and firm. Don't give names.

Believe it or not, that's certainly your perogative. I'm not saying my position is typical, because it's most certainly atypical. I only felt obliged to mention my salary because people on this forum seem to think that paralegals are relegated to a particular salary cap. This just isn't the case. Just looking at the median income for a specific job or industry doesn't give you all the facts.

I work for a real estate firm. It's primary source of income is generated by collecting past-due homeowner's assessments. We also enforce deed restriction violations. I work very, very, very hard for my money. But I am rewarded handsomely in return. I am personally responsible for handling over 500 or so active files at one time. This isn't easy, nor is it my ideal job, but the pay and autonomy makes it worth while. The pay structure in this firm is most certainly unique, but that alone doesn't make it impossible.

My point: there are high-paying jobs out there for paralegals, one just have to be persistant and a little bit lucky to find them.

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Lit paralegal in Menlo Park, California

61 months ago

Paralegal for 3 years in Los Gatos, California said: I have a BA degree and have taken a 2 classes at the local community college AFTER I was hired. I work in an Estate Planning and Trust office handling post trust administration for the most part. Very rewarding work, M-F 9-5.... great hours. Our office does not do litigation so the environment is usually non stress... but there are days like at any job. My salary is $56K + benefits (med & retirement) I have my own office and work alot independently. Background in accounting/finance very helpful. LOVE my job !

I am a 2-year paralegal at a big firm in Menlo park but I live in Los Gatos - I am intent upon finding a job in Los Gatos so I no longer have to commute (I am a single mom and want to spend more time with my child and not on highway 85). The job market is difficult right now, but if you (3 years paralegal in Los Gatos) hear of a job opening in Los Gatos please reply! Thank you!

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

61 months ago

Legalmagic in Los Angeles, California said: Wow! It is very refreshing to read a positive statement about the paralegal profession. I have been purusing many of the different topics, and needless to say, the majority of them are very negative towards the industry. ......

This is the deal. If you get a paralegal postion with set hours of 9-5 or 8:30 to 5:30pm- you will have way less stress than a "billable" hour para job where you will be working more than 40 hours a week.

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Positive in Tustin, California

60 months ago

Usually in the orange county/Los angeles CA. a paralegal with a Bachelor's, would start off between, 30,000-40,000, average being 34,800. After a few years salaries range from 35,000-59,000. Three to five years, 45,000-60,000, five plus up 72,000 or more.

Yes at firs you may have to settle for a legal secretary position or send resumes while in school to firms expressing interest in participating in an internship. Research the firm and provide an appealing cover letter.

I have a bachelors and no legal experience. However, I plan on researching nonprofit legal aid centers, researching the web, and submitting a letter of interest and resume in acquiring my internship. I know it may be slow out there but Im confident with a little determination and persistent things will pan out.

Luckily, for me I have a job that has very flexible hours so a non paid internship is an open possibility for me.

Everyone Goodluck, be confident, and stay positive!

Orange County Paralegal student and single parent.

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Positive in Tustin, California

60 months ago

Exuse me. I forgot to add to my comment above that I meant a paralegal with a bachelor's degree coupled with a ABA paralegal certificate earnings.

Sorry for any confusion.

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Highly Paid Career in Tustin, California

59 months ago

I agree with Positive in Tustin, California. Higher education, years of experience, and excellent skills can give you a salary in the $80,000 range. I have a Bachelors degree, a Paralegal Certificate, and a Masters degree and am making $95,000 + a year. I also have been in this industry for 10 years. If you work for the government, which is what I am planning to do, you can get $120,000 in a management position or Legal Specialist position.

There are excellent Paralegal programs in California.. I would go with an ABA approved program.

Finally, I would try to work in-house (corporation) because you are not pressured to meet "billable" hours like a law firm. Your chances of getting promoted is a lot faster if you work for a corporation and you are more diversified.. That is, you get to work on IP matters, litigation, corporate, mergers & acquisitions, contracts, etc. In-house is way better...

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NolaCaliGirl in Upland, California

59 months ago

This thread is hilarious. There are NO jobs in California. I live here and everyone is barely making it and staying put while they can. Some of us are leaving for better states. If you think you're going to drive into the sunshine and land a high paying job you're delusional.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

59 months ago

The problem is - nobody every thought California would go belly up - and they just don't believe it.

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Positive in Tustin in Tustin, California

59 months ago

Upland, you live in a part of California. You do not live in every city so to make a blatant statement there are no jobs seems a little immature and premature. I have searched different employment sites and there are legal support jobs out there. Not as many but they are out there.

If being a paralegal is what you want to do than do not let anyone's comments, including mine, determine your career path. With any job or career success comes with many years of experience and some form higher education whether it be an AA to a Ph.D.

Connections matter as well. I still need to, but join paralegal professional organizations and participate in workshops. Network. Its a recession out there. Its hitting every occupation/career out there...including nurses! Now everyone thought that nursing was an excellent secure job but forums that I have read are saying at least in OC that new graduates are finding it hard to find employment. So whatever field you get into, with the exception of some like doctors, is going to have its good and bad during the recession. And every profession is going to have its disgruntled workers complaining because most of the ones that are happy with their job arent on the web writing about it.:)

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NolaCaliGirl in Ontario, California

59 months ago

Newsflash, California is BADLY dealing with the aftereffects of the housing market. I don't care how many ads you see seeking help they are NOT hiring. I've lived in LA county and San Bernardino County and I KNOW what I'm talking about but hey, if it makes you sleep good at night to think all you have to do is drive out here in the sunshine and land a six figured job then by all means feel free.

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NolaCaliGirl in Ontario, California

59 months ago

Positive in Tustin in Tustin, California said: Upland, you live in a part of California. You do not live in every city so to make a blatant statement there are no jobs seems a little immature and premature. I have searched different employment sites and there are legal support jobs out there. Not as many but they are out there.

If being a paralegal is what you want to do than do not let anyone's comments, including mine, determine your career path. With any job or career success comes with many years of experience and some form higher education whether it be an AA to a Ph.D.

Connections matter as well. I still need to, but join paralegal professional organizations and participate in workshops. Network. Its a recession out there. Its hitting every occupation/career out there...including nurses! Now everyone thought that nursing was an excellent secure job but forums that I have read are saying at least in OC that new graduates are finding it hard to find employment. So whatever field you get into, with the exception of some like doctors, is going to have its good and bad during the recession. And every profession is going to have its disgruntled workers complaining because most of the ones that are happy with their job arent on the web writing about it.:)

How funny. Nurses can go anywhere in the country and receive a high paying salary. They don't HAVE to stay put in California or New York to make the big bucks like paralegals and I don't know of ONE unemployed nurse. Please, don't be so naive. Nursing is a solid profession. They aren't sitting at home writing on blogs trying to figure out HOW to land a job. LOL.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

59 months ago

That's true. Maybe the nurses just out of school are having a difficult time, but not the rest.

And the older experienced paralegals, legal assistants - well, for today's employer, we just cost too much.

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Positive in Tustin in Tustin, California

59 months ago

Im not being naive, hon. My friend just landed a 36000 per year job as a paralegal and she only has 6 months experience in Irvine. So maybe in your world you may have problems with getting employment but from what Im seeing maybe employers are seeking more positive people.

I do have two degrees and connections. I just landed an internship in LA paying 12 per hour. I have no experience. It is with an entertainment law firm. I still go to school and self-employed. That is why I am able to do internships and wait for the right job because I do not have to worry about a typical 9-5.

So please spare me the, THERE'S NO JOB sentiments. Yes they are scarce. But not all are having the problems that YOU or others are having. Like I said most people who are paralegals arent coming on here complaining because they employed. :)

Anyway, that is my 2cents. Take it as you will.

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Positive in Tustin in Tustin, California

59 months ago

Oh and I never said anything about coming out here and landing a six figure job. Read before responding.

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Positive in Tustin in Tustin, California

59 months ago

Here is a couple forums I was referring to regarding nursing. And there not even all of the forums that I have seen. One is from 2008 towards the end of the year and the others are all 2009. And my comment was targeted to new grads more than anything. I cannot stand people who think they know it all. My last comment on this subject.

www.city-data.com/forum/work-employment/712610-where-nursing-jobs-does-anyone-know.html

allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/anyone-out-there-418635.html

allnurses.com/geriatric-nurses-ltc/rn-having-hard-409321.html

www.nursepod.com/?p=939

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

59 months ago

Most of the people having a difficult time getting a job are those over 40. If you're 50 (like me), better pray to die before UB runs out.

Funny thing about articles, they are written by reporters. You know the saying, don't believe everything you read.

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Carefree in Ontario, California

59 months ago

Positive in Tustin in Tustin, California said: Here is a couple forums I was referring to regarding nursing. And there not even all of the forums that I have seen. One is from 2008 towards the end of the year and the others are all 2009. And my comment was targeted to new grads more than anything. I cannot stand people who think they know it all. My last comment on this subject.

www.city-data.com/forum/work-employment/712610-where-nursing-jobs-does-anyone-know.html

allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/anyone-out-there-418635.html

allnurses.com/geriatric-nurses-ltc/rn-having-hard-409321.html

www.nursepod.com/?p=939

First off you have issues if you can't STAND anyone. With that attitude I doubt you're employable.

You have TWO degrees and are doing an internship??? Wow, ok. Whatever floats your boat.

I know nursing graduates who are offered jobs before they even graduate so there goes THAT theory. Nurses will ALWAYS have options whereas my LAW SCHOOL GRADUATE FRIENDS cannot land a job as a law clerk or paralegal b/c many attorneys are doint it themselves. Citydata is known to be the water cooler spot for complainers like you.

I am VERY much employed and receiving a salary so there goes THAT theory of you.

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loyalramfan in Los Angeles, California

59 months ago

Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida said: Most of the people having a difficult time getting a job are those over 40. If you're 50 (like me), better pray to die before UB runs out.

Funny thing about articles, they are written by reporters. You know the saying, don't believe everything you read.

I know that is usually true, but I found two jobs after 50 with good pay and benefits. I quit the first job because it became ugly after a merger.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

59 months ago

Positive in Tustin in Tustin, California said:
I do have two degrees and connections. I just landed an internship in LA paying 12 per hour.

Positive: Let's see thing for what they are. An internship is an introduction to a new field. Internships are when you are in a learning/training program. It is done at the end of the program. You have a mentor.

I had to do an internship to get my AA in Court Reporting (at age 21). I had to do an internship to get my AA in Paralegal Studies (at age 47).

You are not doing an internship. You took an entry level job paying $12.00 an hour.

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dallasparalegal in Fort Worth, Texas

59 months ago

Interesting thread.
My BS is in secondary education, but I pursued an ABA paralegal certificate right out of college and started at $18,200 in 1989, about what starting teacher salaries were at that time. 20 years later, I'm finding that my salary is about what it would be if I'd been teaching for 20 years. Frustrating, because I thought I'd be making a whole lot more money in the legal field than teachers - and I don't get summers, Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at Christmas and spring break!

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

59 months ago

I got out of court reporting in Florida and went into legal assistant because it was more money, benefits, vacations.

Now I'm practicing my shorthand and hopeful to go back into court reporting. (I haven't gotten a teaching job). There are court reporters making over $100,000 a year.

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XLabor Law Compliance to Entmnt Law in Phoenix, Arizona

59 months ago

Yes, its important to be positive, Positive in Tustin....but it is scary that this particular industry can take such a massive hit like it has. Its always smart to keep your eyes wide open to what's happening around u to protect your tail. But yes, you DID land that job partly because your positive. If you've already convinced yourself you're not going to get a job, it'll show in your interview, the way you carry yourself...... The one that's excited to work and already knows she'll be great (yes, for 12 an hour ---temporarily) is the one who gets the job over the person who seems to be in pain just sitting in the chair just TALKING about the job.

If your going to make being a Paralegal, the trick is be a GOOD Paralegal. Many Paralegals act like legal secretaries at best, just waiting to take orders and never get truly proactive enough to even be called a paralegal. If you network with the associations, build friends others in the professional community about YOUR vision (we can always do more), entertain and welcome the associates into your life instead of assuming they aren't interested in you......stand out! And attorneys talk to one another about their support staff. If they speak only in praises about you to all their colleagues, then you probably just landed more work for yourself if you need to move on. Its hilarious how people think they're worth more than 35k and all they do is some calendaring, typing and delegate some paper pushing......not to mention probably walk around the office bringing down morale with their complaining and bad taste in work attire.....

hope someone was enlightened,
kp

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Jay in Tampa, Florida

56 months ago

I think you are all missing the point. I am working on a Bs in Paralegal and I can tell you that this is all about where you go to work. I have worked many feilds and when I dropped out of high school I went to work making $45,000 a year plus bonuses and one company and a little over 50 a year at another. This was with no degree, and no high school credits. Now I am working on a B.S. in Paralegal and if you know where to go then you will bring in the money. Its all strategy.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

56 months ago

Good luck to you, Jay.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

56 months ago

Jay must be in the program at St. Pete College. That's where I went. They now have a Bachelor's Program in Paralegal.

Strategy is good. Hope it works. It does for some.

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kcheesk in Phoenix, Arizona

54 months ago

From what I understand, just the Bankruptcy courts thenselves have the most work. Jobs in firms are still hard to come by. But I recommend checking it out yourself -- see how many listings you see thru the state bar, paralegal associations, etc. California is the only state that requires at least a Paralegal certificate, but often times a Bachelor's degree in addition to that in this market -- plus most attorneys are looking for years of experience on top of the education (usually 5 minimum). This is helping keep competition high. I've been working for the county Justice Courts in hopes to gain enough experience in the legal field to even get my foot in the door as a legal secretary. I'll propbably just stick with the county and move up to Paralegal for the public defender's office which is way faster than waiting around 5 years to work at a firm. The benefits are better anyway than the private sector so I recommend working directly for the Bankruptcy courts if u want to go that route.

I finished a Paralegal certificate and have a degree, but I don't have any experience in a law firm and that only seems to leave me qualifying for a receptionist or file clerk position -- and with all this time in school I've had (plus I'm going to law school in the evenings beginning Fall next year), i'll be damned if I make $10 answering phones and sit around all day feeling my brain turn to mush. Hopefully u get lucky but that was my experience before landing the position in the courts (i've been there 2 weeks now).

I wish u all the best

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

Positive in Tustin in Tustin, California said: Im not being naive, hon. My friend just landed a 36000 per year job as a paralegal and she only has 6 months experience in Irvine...I do have two degrees and connections. I just landed an internship in LA paying 12 per hour. I have no experience. It is with an entertainment law firm. I still go to school and self-employed. That is why I am able to do internships and wait for the right job because I do not have to worry about a typical 9-5. Anyway, that is my 2cents. Take it as you will.

36,000 ain't sh!*t in Irvine. I know. I lived there and made $55k while living there. $55k is enough money to allow you to actually live in Irvine. I lived in what was literally the least expensive complex in the city. I didn't live paycheck to paycheck, but I didn't have extra money to play with. I contributed $400/mo of after-tax money to 401k and received $520 child support for one kid. I had no credit card bills. My pay was enough to make rent, toyota payment, necessities, and moderately priced recreational activities. Forget traveling anywhere during paid time off. If your friend is single, she'd struggle on that salary living in Irvine. My guess is that she has a long commute if she's living alone.

Legal sec/paralegal pay is good only when not compared to other professions that require a degree, i.e., an accountant. At 55K, I was at a dead end. Cost of living increases from there on out. Besides, assuming this profession were good pay, it is so not worth it because of the hostile work environment and the vindictive and acerbic personalities of the attys.

I left the industry 3 years to ago to finish my degree so that I could change careers. I HATED IT, and almost every coworker I had hated working for attys regretted the choices they made that got them in this field.

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

For those of you considering this what I consider to be God-forsaken line of work, here is a link to an intelligent analysis on what it's really like to work for attorneys, written by an experienced paralegal from Orange County.

www.indeed.com/forum/job/legal-secretary/Age-discrimination-leagal-secretary/t171173/p1#c963369

Scroll down toward the bottom and read comments posted by "Mezosub in Costa Mesa, California." She (or he - thinkin' about ya dlp) provides an outstanding analysis.

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kcheesk in Phoenix, Arizona

54 months ago

"I HATED IT, and almost every coworker I had hated working for attys regretted the choices they made that got them in this field."

thats interesting you mention the personalities of attorneys and the whole environment of a law firm -- right now I work for the Justice Courts and work with judges and attorneys and on my end they act great - its the other support staff who have really abrasive personalities. Yes, the attorneys and justices have their egos at times, but other than that, they're great. I'm curious as to what you've experienced specifically (or others in this forum) that turned u off about the attorneys?

I know this work can be high stress and high pressure -- and that can cause people's blood pressure to rise and act out -- so is it the work itself thats put on you from them or do you really think its not work related and just the people?

Just curious, thanks

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kcheesk in Phoenix, Arizona

54 months ago

Hmm....not giving u sh*!t here but I was hoping for an example. I keep hearing what jerks attorneys are but no one ever tells me what happened exactly. Like: "the attorney threw his lunch at me when the memorandum I sent out had a typo" or something....I could give a laundry list of adjectives for my boyfriend too, but (as you know by working in law) it isn't real for the rest of us unless you can show some facts behind it.

I'm not giving u a hard time or saying nothing actually happened...I just think if something really bad happened to make u feel this way, maybe u can tell what it was? anyone out there have a really bad attny experience? what was it exactly? I'm just wondering what these experiences are that a LOT of people say they have with attnys but I haven't had once....just would like some insight. Thanks.

ps: of course don't be silly and use names, so if they want to feed their ego one day and google themselves, they won't find this forum

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

kcheesk in Phoenix, Arizona said: "

It's funny because I now have a p/t job working in the law dept of a large corporation, and for the first time in my life it's the attys who are pleasant and the staff that can be difficult. I think my situation is the exception not the rule. An overwhelming majority of legal secs & parlgls are really unhappy with their career choices.

I could go on forever with examples. I had an atty who would literally stand right over my shoulder while I looked at a spreadsheet she had tacked to the side of my cubicle. All of her cases were listed in the first column, initial demand in the second column, and on and on, and this spreadsheet had enough columns that it took 4 pieces of paper tacked side by side on the wall. I worked for her 2 days a week; so I wasn't her main secretary who knew right where to look. She would ask for info, literally standing over me saying, "Just look. It's right there in front of you." We had an atty with an unusual French name. She made a big deal at my pronunciation of his name.

She was entirely unapproachable. You couldn't come to her with a legitimate question because she'd have a fit. Someone called in and wanted me to relay a message to her verbally. I walked over to her ofc and to give her the info, and she responded very angrily.

This is just one atty. Most of the attys out there behave this way. They are notorious for waiting until the last minute to start working on a deadline that you've been telling them about for days. The runner has to pick it up by a certain time to get it to the court before it closes, and of course this is the deadline date. The secretary is expected to work thru lunch. I always called the ofc mgr and told him, "XX has this deadline, and I need to go to lunch." to the chagrin of the atty because he expects you to skip lunch. Most secretaries would. I had a coworker who skipped lunch but put on her timecard that she went out of fear of repercussion.

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

continued from above:

There is more than one way to complete something. This one atty with whom I worked didn't want to be bothered with questions; so I would pick one way to do what he asked, and then he would be angry because I didn't do it the other way. If I'd asked how he wanted it done, he'd have been angry. With this guy, I was in a lose-lose situation no matter what. He never gave clear instructions. I hated walking down the hall to his office to get clarification because I always had to brace myself for his rant.

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

I am going to cut and paste some of my "favorite" comments from others on these fora:

Former Paralegal from Denver:
Just understand that law is a tough industry. Nonlawyers suffer a lot of abuse in law firms, which is one reason why so many of them are disillusioned with their careers. The business is tough. The workday is usually tough and long. Lawyers are tough and abrasive to work for. Some lawyers are fine, but a significant number of them are abrupt, rude, and confrontational, even with their staff. One needs rhinoceros skin, titanium nerves and an iron constitution to work in law.
If I were you, I'd pursue the M.A. I instructed students in a previous career. I gained far more satisfaction mentoring students than I ever did working in law. Paralegals do the work, but attorneys get and savor the glory.

Paralegal in Carrolton, Texas:
I have been a paralegal for 10 years and I totally hate it. Salaries are actually going down! Non-lawyers at firms are nobodies. Meaningless. Just a warm body. Sometimes I want to just scream, "I have a college degree! Why don't you treat me better?" But the only thing that matters in the field of law are the attorneys. All others are Staff and totally dispensable.

Happy RN in Alhambra:
RUN LIKE HELL AWAY FROM THE PARALEGAL PROFESSION. YOU ARE TREATED LIKE DIRT BY LAWYERS AND YOU WILL NEVER GET $50,000.00. IF YOU START GETTING OLDER AND LOSE YOUR LOOKS, BYE, BYE

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

KMM in Wilmington, DE:
I was a Paralegal for 10 years. At the end, I hated it all- because of the stress, which was destroying my life, and the attornyes who eventually did destroy my life.
Shelf life of para is about 10 years.
I FELT EXACTLY, EXACTLY, EXACTLY AS YOU HAVE WRITTEN.
I lived the tortured stressfull days..when I just didn't know how much more I could take.
I eventually went down in flames in 2006, a toiled thankless life that ended very badly.

VH in Dayton, OH:
Don't do it. It can be rewarding and working with clients most of the time is great, however, you will never, never get the appreciation you deserve from the majority of the lawyers you work with. They have too many problems with lack of ethics, laziness, arrogance, egotism, lack of caring for their clients, abuse problems, greed, et cetera. I spent 35 years in the legal field and am still doing some part-time work now that I'm retired, and when I look back on it I should have become a physical therapist. The pay is horrible with plaintiff attorneys. The stress is horrendous, and the office politics can be brutal. If you do everything your attorney bosses tell you to do without question, you can be in danger of losing your license but the jerk keeps on going. It will always be your fault when something goes wrong. I'm sorry I ever wasted my life trying to be David up against Goliath. I had to leave three law firms because of their lack of ethic.

Pinkfusion in Irvine:
I appreciate all that have shared their experiences. My sister was warning me (she works at a university) that many of the students that completed the paralegal studies program were VERY unhappy when they began working as paralegals. At first I dismissed her. Now I believe it.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

54 months ago

Examples from my experience:

Attorneys says to me - "I don't care about you. I don't care about how your weekend was and I will never ask. I don't care about your kids. I don't want to hear about them at all."

Attorney emails 24/7 and expects immediate response. "Come here now." 30 seconds later, "Bring the Smith petition to me in the Corner Conference Room immediately." 1 minute later, "Where are you? I need the petition now!" 30 seconds later she has the receptionist page me. Another email "Are you receiving my emails?" Attorney calls Firm Administrator to complain I am non-responsive to attorney requests. 3 minutes have gone by. This happened at least 3x a week. Bathroom breaks, tampon changes, lunch - forget it. Too risky.

Attorney assignment to me - "Find out how my [adult] daughter can get out of this traffic ticket."

Attorney calls me from an airport returning from a deposition - "My flight is running late and it's your fault so you need to find out from the airlines what the problem is and get this flight on its way." Or any other numerous traveling related issues that come up are all my fault - he doesn't like his seat assignment, Hertz doesn't have a good enough vehicle, the clerk at the hotel is rude, etc. All my fault.

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

San Francisco Legal Secretary with 27 years' experience:
I once interviewed at an agency where I laid out all my conditions and things that I would not tolerate:

Micromanagement, yelling, assigning blame, not listening when someone tells you about a deadline and then missing it and getting upset with the staff, etc. The lady at the agency said "You've just described 85% of the lawyers and the 15% that don't behave like that have staff that isn't going anywhere." I had to laugh. That's the way both of the Estate Planning firms I recently temped in were as well as Littler.

I actually temped in a few places like that covering vacations and sick leave. It's too bad my husband isn't still around, I had actually planned to make a career covering absences and helping out with overflow. It was really a fun period in my life. I ran into some nutcases during that time, but I would just call the agency and let them know that they needed to replace me as I do not have a license to deal with mental cases.

Vinitas in Los Angeles:
So true, so true the work is overburdensome. I worked as a paralegal, before the phrase paralegal was invented, for over 30 years. This is not a job for the faint of heart or anyone a little bit on the lazy. Be prepared to miss dinner. I have left the office only to learn I forgot something and then got sandbagged and had to work until after midnight. This left me enough time to get home, showered, and about 6 hours of sleep (I stopped long enough to get something to eat). You will miss your children's events because the client can only come in at that time, etc., etc., etc. Plus you get blamed for all of the attorney's mistakes…

Paralegal from Irvine, CA:
I would rather burn myself alive than choose this profession all over again.

KW in Detroit, MI:
When I returned to college to obtain my paralegal certificate (after being a legal secretary for many, many years, in our last class (ethics & internship) a poll was taken of the studen

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

KW in Detroit, MI:
When I returned to college to obtain my paralegal certificate (after being a legal secretary for many, many years, in our last class (ethics & internship) a poll was taken of the students as to what they were going to do with their education. The gal seated ahead of me stated she had never worked (was mid to late 20's) and was going to start working for law firms. I told her to be prepared to spend a lot of time crying in the ladies room. I did a ton of crying when I started in this business and refuse to do it anymore....no matter what they do to me. I honestly believe if budding legal secretaries were to read what life is really like inside the firms, they wouldn't sign up for that type of life, no matter the paycheck.

Overwhelmed in Hudson, FL:
I must add my two cents. Do NOT do it!! I spent two years of my life in school and actually did get my AS in Paralegal Studies and was employed for about one year as a paralegal. I quit and am now preparing myself to invest one more year in an LPN program.
The stress of the legal field was overwhelming and unsettling. The stories of attorneys throwing chairs at their paralegals and tyrannical behavior was not a secret once I entered the field. If I had known about it prior, I may not have completed my paralegal education.
Working as a paralegal is FULL of stress, deadlines, "post-it" notes, and serious disillusionment. I was completely disappointed with the legal field and am very excited (and nervous) to be starting on a new path in nursing in just one week!

Paralegal in Dallas, TX:
I worked in litigation and saw plenty of screaming, yelling, temper tantrums, door slamming, items thrown, manipulation, sabotage, etc. I saw one partner stand, raise both arms in victory and scream, "Nobody matters here, but me!"

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

54 months ago

Yeah, you have to be careful of the attorneys who don't get going until late. My friend works for one who sometimes doesn't show up for work until late afternoon (drinking problem) and then is ready to get going for the day. When that happens no way my friend gets to leave the office before 8 or 9 or 10:00 pm at night.

And the attorneys are the bosses, so it's not like you can go to some Human Resources department and complain about your drunk boss who shows up for work at 3:00.

Then there are the touchy ones - as in they touch you a lot, press their crotches up against you while you are sitting in a chair, grab you, say inappropriate things, offer you money and gifts and they are older than your dad.

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dh in Northern CA, California

54 months ago

kcheesk in Phoenix, Arizona said: Hmm....not giving u sh*!t here but I was hoping for an example. I keep hearing what jerks attorneys are but no one ever tells me what happened exactly. Like: "the attorney threw his lunch at me when the memorandum I sent out had a typo" or something....I could give a laundry list of adjectives for my boyfriend too, but (as you know by working in law) it isn't real for the rest of us unless you can show some facts behind it.

I'm not giving u a hard time or saying nothing actually happened...I just think if something really bad happened to make u feel this way, maybe u can tell what it was? anyone out there have a really bad attny experience? what was it exactly? I'm just wondering what these experiences are that a LOT of people say they have with attnys but I haven't had once....just would like some insight. Thanks.

ps: of course don't be silly and use names, so if they want to feed their ego one day and google themselves, they won't find this forum

DID WE SCARE YOU AWAY? SORRY. BUT WE WRITE THE TRUTH.

I suggest you stay where you are and never work in a firm.

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kcheesk in Phoenix, Arizona

54 months ago

oh pls. speak the truth? my whole point is you haven't written ANYTHING. people give all kinds of "feeling" descriptions about attorneys and the emotions they make them feel --- but I think a lot of people who give nothing but adjectives are usually wacko's who are overly sensitive to every odd look or noise someone makes and easily takes offense to everything. a lot of people don't like being told they're wrong and blame other people for making them feel inadequate when they probably just ARE inadequate in whatever they did that pissed off the attorney.

if u write the truth then lets have it! what truth? tell us what happened already.

and go ahead and QUIT the firm -- but if u think attorneys are the only people who will correct u when u make mistakes, get angry when u do something silly, or look oddly at u if they're thinking about how they forgot to pay their light bill last night while u were speaking - guess what -- that's everywhere. Egos, bad attitudes, even blaming things on you that may not have been your doing -- that's everywhere too unless YOU become head honcho.

and i work with JUDGES and attorneys all day long. what difference does it make if its in a firm? An attorney is an attorney. Its pretty trashy to get defensive and insulting on a public website when someone is asking u a VERY simple question. I can see why attorneys don't get along with u too well. I understand you're frustrated but come on, man. Relax.

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