Paralegal degree first or business mngt.

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bernard427 in los angeles, California

40 months ago

I just completed my military service in the US Army and I am contemplating in entering the paralegal career field. I am interested in practicing in cooperate and labor law. I am planning in getting an associate degree in business management first. Then follow up my degree with a paralegal certification. So my question is will it be better to have paralegal degree or certification.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

40 months ago

As a paralegal, you won't be 'practicing' anything. You will be working for an attorney. He will drive a BMW. You will drive whatever you can afford in the minion bracket. You will work under his direction and he will decide your pay. Things have changed. It is extremely unlikely you will get a high paying job.

After I stopped working as a court reporter and took a legal assistant job for a personal injury attorney, he made the remark to me once, "I pay your bills." I told him I provide him with my legal abilities in return for a salary and I pay my own bills. He said something once about my Camaro. I reminded him I bought that car when I was a court reporter.

After having worked as a legal assistant for 25 years I am now back to court reporting. It feels wonderful.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

guest in Oakland, California said: Don't bother with paralegal.

Go to law school.

You don't know what you're talking about.

New lawyers are having a hell of time finding jobs. They are lucky if they can get document review temp work for the grand sum of $15/hour. (I made more than that as a paralegal.) With that in mind, unless one has means it is not wise to carry the $100K+ student loan debt from law school; that is, if you can get in.

Yeah, in California you people can attend non-ABA accredited law school for much less than $100K, but try to get a job with a decent law firm with a non-accredited JD. And, yes, one can start one's own office, but take it from someone who knows, it's extremely tough.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

@Bernard:

Thank you for your service.

I'll come right to the point. Paralegal opportunities have dwindled considerably since at least the beginning of the recession, if they existed altogether. Law firms have shed legions of talented paralegals, and attorneys. Even experienced paralegals are having trouble getting jobs. Therefore, IMO you should consider another vocation. But if you opt for paralegal anyway, be sure you can stand the student loan debt staring back at you while you look for that paralegal job that could take months or years to materialize, if it materializes at all.

Good luck with however you proceed.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

guest in Oakland, California said: I know of a couple of EEs that went to non-ABA accredited law schools and are making over $250K a year in IP and patent law. The trick is to find a NICHE in law.
They are exceptions. They were hired because their electrical engineering background. Most attorney wannabes are not electrical engineers, and therefore don't have that "niche" to rely upon. Also consider the notion that such engineers may not want to practice IP and patent law. I personally know such an attorney.

Further, few states recognize non-ABA law school grads. Generally, those grads can practice law only in the states in which their individual non-ABA schools are located, thereby limiting their opportunities further.

New lawyers with ABA JDs are having a tough enough time getting jobs. Therefore, it makes no sense to earn a JD that will further limit their opportunities.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado said:

Yeah, in California you people can attend non-ABA accredited law school for much less than $100K, but try to get a job with a decent law firm with a non-accredited JD.

Would it be better to attend an ABA law school? Sure, but in this economy the $125k price tag isn't worth it. On the other hand, I know licensed California lawyers who went the non-ABA route for under $20k that have carved out successful solo careers in the PI field.

Only a small percentage of law school grads are landing jobs with law firms. The vast majority work from their makeshift home offices.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

guest in Oakland, California said: I know of a couple of EEs that went to non-ABA accredited law schools and are making over $250K a year in IP and patent law. The trick is to find a NICHE in law.

I agree, it's not where you attend law school, but your drive and determination that determines whether you'll succeed.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado said:
Further, few states recognize non-ABA law school grads. Generally, those grads can practice law only in the states in which their individual non-ABA schools are located, thereby limiting their opportunities further.

A law license from one state is all you need to practice before federal courts. In other words, a Califonia license would allow you to appear before federal courts in and outside of Colorado. You could also practice before state courts on a pro hack vice basis. Admission of an out-of-state attorney (California) to practice in Colorado is governed by C.R.C.P. 221.

The non-ABA track: you enroll in American International School of Law, fly in to California to take the FYLSE (baby bar). If successful, you continue on to your JD, then fly in to sit the general bar. Total tuition for four years is $8,900. First year $2,800, 2nd $2000, 3rd $2000 and 4th $2000.

Once licensed in California, you would return to Colorado and apply to the U.S. District Court in Denver. You could also enter into fee sharing agreements with other attorneys. Plus, you would be able to advise and represent clients in California state and federal courts.

There are many possibilities with a law license.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

First year tuition waa supposed to read $2900.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado said:

New lawyers are having a hell of time finding jobs. They are lucky if they can get document review temp work for the grand sum of $15/hour.

I saw a lawyer ad on craigslist a few weeks ago, a rookie was charging $50 an hour for court appearances and $25 for limited legal services. As more unemployed grads hit the streets, we will likely see hourly rates drop significantly. More and more of them are working as paralegals.

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bernard427 in los angeles, California

40 months ago

Thank you everybody for your constructive advise. I am carefully doing my research in the paralegal career field, because I am planning to use my military GIBILL benefit. I only have 24 months of tuition which the military will cover, and I want to put it to good use, so I will not incur to much debt. Then I can join the legal profession and begin a new life.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

guest in Oakland, California said: Some states require without exception that you graduate from an ABA school to practice law.

States have no control over who is admitted to practice before federal courts. A non-ABA grad licensed in California would be able to practice before a federal court. Even in a state that requires an ABA credential, a non-ABA lawyer would still be allowed to practice before a state court on a pro hac vice basis. Once a non-ABA lawyer has experience they can usually come in on motion to sit the state bar. But why bother when there are so many lucrative areas of practice in federal law? The fastest growth areas are IP law and bankruptcy (federal). Another fast growth area is diversity jurisdiction cases where parties from different states bring their claims into federal courts.

With e-filing and telephone conferencing papers can be filed online and motions can be argued via telephone conferencing. A lawyer located in state A could practice in a multitude of federal jurisdictions without having to learn each state's rules of civil procedure, since FRCP and FRAP are streamlined.

Think about the return on a minimal investment of under 10k for four years of tuition at a California distance learning law school that would qualify you to sit the bar exam.

Once you get past the stigma of a non-ABA law school, the possibilities are endless. The truth is that few people care where you graduated from. All that matters is you are licensed to practice in at least one state. You're not likely to hear opposing counsel jump up in a courtroom and say, "Objection, he graduated from a non-ABA law school!" It simply isn't going to happen.

If I was going to invest 10k on education, it sure as hell wouldn't be on a paralegal program.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

bernard427 in los angeles, California said: Thank you everybody for your constructive advise. I am carefully doing my research in the paralegal career field, because I am planning to use my military GIBILL benefit. I only have 24 months of tuition which the military will cover, and I want to put it to good use, so I will not incur to much debt. Then I can join the legal profession and begin a new life.

Bernard - the chances of finding work as a paralegal is going to be next to nil. With the legal software they have out today and outsourcing, paralegals are going to have a tough time in the years ahead.

Your best bet is the non-ABA law school route. One option is Northwestern California University School of Law that has been around since 1982. The tuition is only $2,850 a year, or can opt for monthly payments of $237.50. Many NWCUL graduates have passed the California bar and went on to successful careers in solo practice and corporate business.

I truly believe it's a waste of money to enroll in a paralegal program.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

BG in Carlsbad, California said: A law license from one state is all you need to practice before federal courts.
But what about in-residence in state courts? Pro haec vice works only for an individual case basis.

The only point you've made that I can agree with is at this time enrolling in a paralegal program is a waste of money.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

guest in Oakland, California said: Your local community college likely offers an ABA accredited paralegal program for low cost. You can try talking to some of the faculty at the paralegal program and law schools.
And they will feed the same line of bull that paralegal remains a growing vocation, etc., when real-time experience proves beyond a reasonable doubt that it is not.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

I don't buy it. It's not in their interest to speak negatively about the paralegal market.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

Oh, and which CC might that be?

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado said: But what about in-residence in state courts? Pro haec vice works only for an individual case basis.

The idea is to turn your 10k investment into a California law license, so you can practice before federal courts. Why? Because that's where the money is. Many federal areas of law also provide for attorney fees especially in consumer rights advocacy. Consumer bankruptcy is one of the best practice areas. With a good software program in ch. 7 and ch. 13, you could amass a small fortune in that practice area. Patent and trademark law are also lucrative areas of practice. The possibilities are unlimited.

With a paralegal certificate few if any doors will open for anyone. But with a non-ABA JD and law license from California, you would be able to work as a lawyer and represent clients in federal courts in Colorado. In time you would have enough money to travel and enjoy life without dealing with dead-end paralegal jobs.

Hands down, the 10k non-ABA track spread out over moderate monthly payments is the best investment in education today. There is no better return on any investment that I know of, because it absolutely pulls you out of paralegal shlep work and places you in the driver's seat where your call own shots.

There are lawyers from top tier law schools who can't find work, because they have no marketing skills or drive. Yet there are lawyers who graduated from low ranking ABA and non-ABA law schools who are earning seven figures in PI work. All that matters in law is the license.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

What if I don't want to practice in federal court? What if I only want to handle cases in state court? What if I live in Colorado? My California law license won't help me much in Colorado for state court. In support of your California law license argument, I do know of a lawyer who lives and works in Colorado but practices immigration law on her California law license.

What if I don't want to practice in PI? PI is a tough and grinding work. Or what if I want to practice PI insurance defense? What if I lack the technical background to practice patent law? What if I want to practice in elder law? Elder law, and particularly conservatorships and guardianships, deal with state courts.

That's why I say a non-ABA JD is limiting. But you could not be more correct by stating that buying an ABA JD, and taking out ridiculous loans therefor, is not worth it in this economy.

Your comments are interesting, but beg this question: What if I want to work in law but don't want to be a lawyer? Legal document assistants, such as you have in California, are not allowed in Colorado and 48 other states, so that's out.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

guest in Oakland, California said: Why not ??

The faculty for the most part is tenured and not subject to layoffs. Most of the Paralegal faculty teach general education courses as well. The local ABA approved community colleges have decreased enrollment because of the poor job prospects for paralegals.

Please identify by name(s) the community college(s) that tells prospective students paralegal job prospects are grim. Until and unless you identify the community college(s) by name, I cannot buy your assertions and must thereby conclude you are talking through your hat.

In the meantime, read up on "admission against interest."

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado said: What if I want to work in law but don't want to be a lawyer? Legal document assistants, such as you have in California, are not allowed in Colorado and 48 other states, so that's out.
I'll answer my own question. Legal investigator, law librarian (which requires an MLS degree), and file/archive manager are possibilities.

Law firm administration. Many law firm administrators hold JDs along with MBAs but do not practice law, so maybe, BG, a non-ABA JD might work in that instance.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado said: What if I don't want to practice in federal court?

I'm sure you will have no problem coming up with what ifs. The only barrier to work is what you want to believe.

>>>That's why I say a non-ABA JD is limiting.<<<

The non-ABA JD is not limiting to those who are practicing in federal law. It's a lucrative area with many possibilities.

>>>Your comments are interesting, but beg this question: What if I want to work in law but don't want to be a lawyer?<<<

There are paralegals who earn JDs but have no desire to become licensed. With a law degree, however, you would still have a better chance at working for a law firm or private company, than landing a job as a paralegal.

>>>Legal document assistants, such as you have in California, are not allowed in Colorado and 48 other states, so that's out.<<<

There are still numerous avenues open to you as a paralegal. Federal administrative agencies are open to nonlawyers. The Supremecy Clause prempts state law (and state bar associations) from prohibiting you to practice as a nonlawyer advocate before federal agencies. See Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 555(b). Areas open to you:

Board of Immigration Appeals 8 CFR § 292.1-3
Civil Aronautics Board 14 CFR §§ 300.1-6, 302.11
Consumer Product Safety Commission 16 CFR § 1025.61, et seq.
Department of Agricultural Marketing Services 7 CFR § 50.27
Department of Commerce Patent and Trademark Office 35 U.S.C. §§ 31-33
Department of Justice Foreign Claims Settlement Commission 45 CFR § 500.1-6
Department of of Labor Benefits Review Board 20 CFR § 802.201(b); 20 CFR § 802.202
Department of Labor Empoyees Compensation Appeals Board 20 CFR § 501.11
Deapartment of Labor National Railroad Adjustment Board 45 U.S.C. § 3153
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp 12 CFR § 308-04

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

Bankruptcy Petition Preparer 11 U.S.C. § 110
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission 29 CFR § 2700.3(b)
Internal Revenue Service 13 CFR Part 10, 31 U.S.C. § 330
Interstate Commerce Commission 49 CFR § 1103
National Credit Union Adminstration 12 CFR § 747
National Mediation Board 29 CFR § 1200 et seq.
National Transportation Safety Board 49 CFR §§ 821, 831
Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission 29 CFR § 2200.22
Small Business Administration 13 CFR § 121.11, 13 CFR § 134.16
Social Security Administration 42 U.S.C. § 406(a)
EPA 40 CFR § 124.40, 40 CFR § 164.30

The markets are there, it's up to paralegals to learn about them and find a niche.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

Mediation is another area where paralegals can excel in. Many businesses are looking for a mediator to help them with internal disputes. Offer a local business a free mediation trial run, and if they like your services, you will receive work and referrals.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado said:
Law firm administration. Many law firm administrators hold JDs along with MBAs but do not practice law, so maybe, BG, a non-ABA JD might work in that instance.

If you have a background in accounting or business it would also be an asset. You are correct in that there are corporate people who have JDs, but do not practice law. They often conduct research and coordinate matters with outside counsel. They are hired because they are trained to think like lawyers. You can't go wrong with a law degree, especially if it doesn't come with 150k price tag.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

If these individuals are tenured and have no worries about job security, then you should have no problem identifying the community college.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

40 months ago

guest in Oakland, California said: Most of the Paralegal faculty teach general education courses as well.
Interesting, considering that at most community colleges paralegal faculties teach strictly paralegal courses.
guest in Oakland, California said: The local ABA approved community colleges have decreased enrollment because of the poor job prospects for paralegals.
Please identify those colleges. Please provide facts and figures that support your assertion and a source(s) of those facts and figures.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

guest in Oakland, California said: Tenured faculty at a California public college is basically employment for life like a Supreme Court Justice.

Provided there is money in the state budget to pay the teacher otherwise it will be a short lived tenure. The way the economy is going, we may have Supreme Court Justices applying for unemployment benefits.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

You might want to mention that to the thousands of teachers who have been laid off. Even the state court system is facing cutbacks and has raised the costs of filing fees. Services have also been scaled back.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

40 months ago

If there is no money to pay those teachers, then the union has little relevance.

Teachers are going to have to adapt to the direction education is moving in: free courseware from major universities with certificates. Everything is moving towards the delivery of short segmented video formats and live web conferencing. What is happening is akin to the industrial revolution of education.

"Coursera" is revolutionizing the way education is being taught and delivered. All major universities are getting behind this: Stanford, U Penn, Brown, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, University of California, Columbia, Rice, Vanderbuilt, CalTech, Emory, UCSF..and a whole host of others.

These are exciting times.

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katty123 in Tallahassee, Florida

26 months ago

I have an Associates Degree in Paralegal and a Bachelors degree in Business Administration, in what type of job can I combine these two degrees?

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