I am currently in a paralegal certification program and I have an assignment in which I need to interview a paralegal...

Get new comments by email
You can cancel email alerts at anytime.
Comments (23)

Philip in Overland Park, Kansas

67 months ago

Is there anyone who would be kind enough to answer several questions relating to the paralegal field?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (14) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

rjg1954 in Silver Springs, Florida

67 months ago

Can anyone tell me if a felony conviction would prevent you from working as a Paralegal in the State of Florida??

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (71) / No (24) Reply - Report abuse

Philip in Overland Park, Kansas

67 months ago

I appreciate it. I'll sift through that thread more thoroughly, and come up with any other questions I might have, so as to avoid redundancy. In any case, I'll kick off with the following questions:

1. The paralegal profession has been labelled by some as a "pink collar" profession. Are there any advantages or disadvantages for males wishing to enter the profession that you may have observed?

2. What is the liklihood that a law firm or corporation would offer to pay a paralegal to attend law school, to become an attorney?

3. I am currently obtaining a paralegal certification (ABA approved); which areas of law should I study when deciding on LAW electives?

4. What would be the best method for finding and obtaining a paralegal internship?

5. Is NALA certification, or other paralegal certifications (beyond the basic associates degree/certification) worthwhile?

6. I currently have a degree in history and a military background. Is there any way that may hinder me? (I ask, since there are some cases in which having a degree is undesirable, despite the push for everyone to get a bachelors degree.)

7. What is the liklihood of doing actual research for the attorney?

8. I've noticed that you have had a negative experience with attorneys. Did you feel that you were not regarded as a professional, but merely as a peon to be lorded over?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

Philip in Overland Park, Kansas

67 months ago

Thanks for your candid answers. I greatly appreciate real discussion that isn't watered down.

9. Returning to possible gender dynamics, it seems that being a male paralegal would be more of a hinderance, correct? Obviously, the attorney is in the position of power, and modern views on gender roles aside, it seems realistic that men in a paralegal position would seem more threatening to that power. Could you elaborate on how being a male may have had an effect on how attorneys and other co-workers had interacted with you?

10. With my military experience and leadership training as an NCO, would that likely be seen as undesirable to a potential employer, for the purposes of representing a threat to their authority, based on pre-conceived stereotypes?

11. Speaking of stereotypes, I have read articles which have stated that many employers are secretly reluctant to hire our recent veterans, due to fears of PTSD. To compound on this matter, the VA recently lowered the requirements to be diagnosed with PTSD. No longer is a specific event required; now, simply being in Iraq or Afghanistan can be a trigger, according to the VA. While I'm glad that veterans receiving care will be less restrictive, the number of veterans being diagnosed with PTSD will necessarily increase greatly, which will perpetuate the stereotype of the "crazy war vet". While not related specifically to the paralegal profession, do you believe that this is a legitimate concern?

12. How was the work itself, aside from issues with employers? Was it boring, not challenging, or perhaps too challenging?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

mary in Tampa, Florida

67 months ago

Let me tell you how bad things are. A recruiter called today, "Mary, I have a great job for you." Short of it, was basic general office stuff in a law firm doing social security work. Pay is $12.50 an hour. I declined. With a Bachelor's degree and a paralegal degree, I am qualified to open and run a social security outfit myself.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (4) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

mary in Tampa, Florida

67 months ago

I am currently obtaining a paralegal certification (ABA approved); which areas of law should I study when deciding on LAW electives?

In today's world, I would chose (1) litigation; (2) corporate; (3) real estate; (4) foreclosure; (5) bankruptcy. Don't waste your time on criminal or social security or family law.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (3) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

Diane in Irvine, California

67 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: I am currently obtaining a paralegal certification (ABA approved); which areas of law should I study when deciding on LAW electives?

In today's world, I would chose (1) litigation; (2) corporate; (3) real estate; (4) foreclosure; (5) bankruptcy. Don't waste your time on criminal or social security or family law.

I would study Intellectual Property -- there are good opportunities for Patent/Trademark Paralegals.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

Philip in Overland Park, Kansas

67 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: ....except that few IP firms hire entry-level paralegals.

I've never heard of electives for ABA courses, but good choices would be litigation, Workers' Comp and, perhaps, taxes and estate planning. Litigation, because more attorneys practice that specialty than any other. With experience, a chance and some luck, one can transition to another specialty(ies).

The program is a 34 credit course, since I already have a bachelors degree, or else it can be an associates degree program which would include general education courses. There are core classes that I need to take, but there are also some electives that I can choose, all in the LAW category.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

Philip in Overland Park, Kansas

67 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Your choice, but you needn't earn any more degrees. I would go only for courses that would earn you a paralegal certificate.

Since I already have a degree, I am getting the certification, which consists entirely of LAW classes. Within the certification program, I can choose a few electives which must consist of LAW classes.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

amm in Tampa, Florida

66 months ago

1. The paralegal profession has been labeled by some as a "pink collar" profession. Are there any advantages or disadvantages for males wishing to enter the profession that you may have observed?

ANSWER: I am male. I see no major advantages for being. I am sure I suffered from perception problems and, possibly, a wee bit of sexism. I am sure both issues affected me OTJ.

That's interesting . . . On the flip side of that coin, as a woman, I worked for an older attorney who was very sexist (he once asked a female attorney to get him some coffee, lol) . . . and when our firm hired a male paralegal, my attorney began giving all my work to the male paralegal (even though I was his assigned paralegal) and would discuss the cases in depth with the male paralegal (something he wouldn't do with me) -- it was as though he perceived the male paralegal as more competent than me because I am a woman. The worst part of all of this was that I was the senior paralegal for the firm and had more experience than the male paralegal -- He had to come to me constantly with questions because he didn't know as much as I did about litigation. Sexism goes both ways, but in several firms that I worked in it seemed as though the older attorneys (55+) favored the male paralegals and treated them more as colleagues.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (3) Reply - Report abuse

Shell in Ocala, Florida

66 months ago

rjg1954 in Silver Springs, Florida said: Can anyone tell me if a felony conviction would prevent you from working as a Paralegal in the State of Florida??

Yes, it may prevent you from working as a Paralegal in Florida. I have one misdemeanor for a bad check and the school would not let me take the Paralegal program due to the misdemeanor because they feel that I may have trouble finding a job. Basically they have a "zero tolerance" policy at the moment from what I am gathering. If you are planning on going to school to get your degree in Paralegal, check with your school and see if they run background checks on you for the degree. If not, ask if they can.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

buncle19 in San Marcos, California

66 months ago

1. The paralegal field is a para-profession dominated by male lawyers and subservient women, whom for the most part cater to huge egos and abusive personalities. What we really need is a shelter for battered paralegals.

2. None.

3. Don't waste time pursuing paralegal studies. Go into another field where there are viable opportunities of getting ahead, e.g., health care.

4. There are experienced paralegals out of work and it's unlikely a law firm is going to waste time training someone with no experience.

5. There are too many "certifications" plus paralegals are already tested in school with exams. It's an additional layer that paralegals don't need. If at the end of the day, you're still making 15 to 20 bucks an hour, then it's useless.

6. Sadly, employers often depict ex military types unfavorably.

7. Most paralegals don't do much research.

8. Women paralegals often have a favorable public perception, since it fits into a supportive secretarial-legal type role. Male paralegals are laughed at behind their backs, along the lines of: "What a flunky, he couldn't get into law school, Ha!Ha!"
Pretty much anyone I've ever met will say: "How come you don't go to law school?". There is no future in being a paralegal and your sole reason for being is to serve lawyers. If being a gofer sounds attractive, then go for it.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (8) / No (22) Reply - Report abuse

janyladvik in Chicago, Illinois

47 months ago

I doubt most firms would care whether or not a paralegal had a felony conviction.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (3) / No (9) Reply - Report abuse

janyladvik in Chicago, Illinois

47 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: Let me tell you how bad things are. A recruiter called today, "Mary, I have a great job for you." Short of it, was basic general office stuff in a law firm doing social security work. Pay is $12.50 an hour. I declined. With a Bachelor's degree and a paralegal degree, I am qualified to open and run a social security outfit myself.

I laughed out loud at this. Mary do you realize most people these days have college degrees? You are not that special. Paralegal certificates are easy to get as well. I have one, but I threw it away a long time ago. A basic bachelor's degree and paralegal certificate does not qualify you to open up and run a firm that does social security work. You are delusional.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (11) Reply - Report abuse

Mezosub in Santa Ana, California

47 months ago

Jan, maybe not in Illinois. However, in California, anyone with a bachelors degree and a paralegal certification can open and operate a legal self-help service, as a Legal Document Assistant. I don't know if Illinois is evolved enough to make the distinction, but in very metropolitan areas, it's common to find dozens, if not scores of franchises of "We the People" being run by former biglaw paralegals, working side by side with former in-house paralegals, all serving the public directly, under only the general supervision of an attorney, if there is one on staff.

Some of the most common specialties of Legal Document Assistants are Bankruptcy, family law (marital dissolution and child custody), Unlawful Detainer and Landlord/Tenant disputes, and yes, preparing applications for Social Security and Disability benefits. Also, since you seem to be so confident in your diagnosis of delusions, where'd you get your Psychology degrees?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (5) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

MS in Dallas, Texas

47 months ago

That "legal document assistant" thing is only in California, I believe.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (3) / No Reply - Report abuse

janyladvik in Chicago, Illinois

47 months ago

If Mary is so confident she can open and run her own social security firm, then why doesn't she do it. Why bother with recruiters? The fact is if she's that special with her bachelor's degree and training certificate, she would have employers beating her door down. The truth is, though, that bachelor's degrees are as common as mud. So are paralegal certificates. There are hundreds of paralegal training schools all over the country.

Everybody wants to get into the legal field. This in spite of the fact that the over-saturated legal market has been well publicized for many years.Law firms get thousands and thousands of resumes submitted to them every day.

Good luck everyone.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (5) Reply - Report abuse

Unemployed paralegal in Ludlow, Massachusetts

47 months ago

MS in Dallas, Texas said: That "legal document assistant" thing is only in California, I believe.
Also Arizona.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

janyladvik in Chicago, Illinois

47 months ago

Someone with only a bachelor's degree and a paralegal certificate is darn lucky to get a job paying $12.50 an hour. Unless the bachelor's degree is in some highly marketable skill that employers want and need, nobody will hire the person. Many law firms do not care if someone has a paralegal certificate; law firms often hire friends or family members to work as their paralegal.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

mary in Tampa, Florida

47 months ago

Well, how about this, Dick!! I also have twenty years of legal assistant skills, have worked for two very large firms. Made really good money for some years. You are incorrect that law firms only hire family members, and yes, it does help to have friends.

I just applied for certification in Georgia for court reportging (I was a court reporter with RPR status). If I don't get certification, I am freelancing my legal assistant skills at $18.00 an hour.

Why are you picking a beef with me?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (6) / No Reply - Report abuse

Unemployed paralegal in Ludlow, Massachusetts

47 months ago

Jan Yladvik in Chicago, Illinois said: I doubt most firms would care whether or not a paralegal had a felony conviction.
I think they would. They wouldn't like their clients finding out a convicted felon is handling their (confidential) affairs.

It appears from your comments that you have never worked in law firms and don't know what you're talking about.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

mary in Tampa, Florida

47 months ago

I don't know where Jan is coming from, but I am beginning to get angry. He/she is sitting there and reading into posts things no one has even said or insinuated.

Yes, I have a Bachelor's Degree and I have an AA in Paralegal Studies. No, I am not special. However, I have been in the legal field since 1981. I have had a few really good, long lasting jobs.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (3) / No Reply - Report abuse

Unemployed paralegal in Ludlow, Massachusetts

47 months ago

Jan Yladvik in Chicago, Illinois said: Many law firms do not care if someone has a paralegal certificate; law firms often hire friends or family members to work as their paralegal.
Do you honestly believe that? I've had paralegal jobs that lasted for years. I was always a street applicant. I did not have friends or family members in those firms. No one helped me get any of my paralegal jobs. I got them all myself.

Certainly, some firms don't care if their paralegals have certificates, but quite a few of them do, especially bigger firms.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

» Sign in or create an account to comment on this topic.