Titles for Legal Secretary

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Title collector in Saint Louis, Missouri

90 months ago

do you have a creative idea for a title that better describes what a Legal Secretary does? I've heard Administrative Legal Assistant, Practice Coordinator, Client Service Contact, Executive Legal Secretary. Is there any title you really like?

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Half Eagle in Dallas, Texas

90 months ago

I'm not much on using titles to try to make a position sound more important than it really is. I think all fancy new titles do is confuse people momentarily, and then cause them to smirk as they realize what your job really is.

That having been said ... I do secretarial work, but my attorneys rely on me for so much more, that "legal secretary" doesn't convey to clients a complete impression of my duties and capabilities. This can lead to awkwardness at times, such as when a client calls, the attorney isn't available, and the client thinks he needn't bother asking me anything because all I do is type and answer the phone. (Hah!)

My attorneys refer to me as their "assistant." Actually, "legal assistant" describes what I do perfectly, but this term is problematic, because, in recent years, it has become synonymous with "paralegal." I do a lot of paralegal work, but at my firm, paralegals must be degreed, which I'm not.

The human resources manager where I work has forbidden the legal secretaries to call themselves anything else -- not even plain "assistant" -- in their e-mail or letter signatures. And HR doesn't care what your attorney calls you. I think HR's intentions are honorable: The firm's official designation for paralegals is "legal assistants." They don't want clients to be confused, and their marketing materials tout the degrees their legal assistants hold. So they don't want clients mistakenly assuming that a non-degreed assistant is a degreed one. (At least I think this is their reasoning. They've never shared it, so I'm only guessing.)

The point of all my rambling is that, for most of us, "legal assistant" is probably the best description. But, where that term is co-opted as a synonym for "paralegal," I vote for the simple "assistant to [Lawyer Name(s)]" If we get too creative with titles, we run the risk of seeming pathetically pretentious, which achieves the opposite of what we set out to do.

Half Eagle
lawyersrighthand.com

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Dyann Risteen in Asheville, North Carolina

90 months ago

I know some paralegals who get bent out of shape if you call yourself a "paralegal" or "legal assistant". They feel that if they went to school to get a damned degree in it, that no one else should be able to use the moniker. I did go to school for it, but the best thing I learned was not to be a paralegal, and to consider myself to be a career legal secretary. In that position, I do a lot of stuff a paralegal would do, but I don't have all the responsibility. And paralegals don't necessarily get paid all that much more.

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Cathy in New Jersey

90 months ago

I am a Legal Secretary with 14+ years in the industry. I have been referred to as an Executive Legal Secretary, Legal Assistant and Legal Secretary/Paralegal by most attorneys of whom I've worked or if I were interviewing due to my diversified expertise. However, I would just prefer the title of Legal Secretary because in no way have I gotten paid for such other titles. However, what I don't understand is that why would a Legal Secretary with say about from anywhere between 1-5 years experience be referred to as a Legal Assistant or Executive Legal Secretary when they really do not have that type of expertise to hold the title. I believe that a title such as those would require at least 10 or more years in the industry. I have heard attorneys call their secretaries with no more than between 1-5 years those titles when talking to clients, ect. but could not comprehend why other than for billing purposes so as to bill at a higher hourly rate especially if the Firm is a small one. Any idea on why this seems to be occurring in the smaller law firms now or am I correct in my assumption.

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Title collector in Saint Louis, Missouri

90 months ago

The trend in the industry is driven by the changing role of the legal secretary. Young lawyers are now of the generation that has always had a computer and types faster than they can dictate. As the needs of the lawyers change, the role of their support person is evolving too. It is harder and harder to recruit "secretaries" because schools are no longer teaching traditional typing, shorthand, or secretarial classes. Nor are they offering secretarial certificates or degrees (at least in this part of the country.) So, as the role changes, the title is coming under increasing fire.

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

89 months ago

Dyann Risteen said: I know some paralegals who get bent out of shape if you call yourself a "paralegal" or "legal assistant". They feel that if they went to school to get a damned degree in it, that no one else should be able to use the moniker.

____________________________________________________

People get especially bent out of shape at those of us who were "grandfathered in," without the degree but with so much experience and on the job training that we know more than lots of attorneys.

The law is a snotty profession and always will be.

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Michelle - Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia

88 months ago

I agree with Dyann and Half Eagle. I could care less what people call me. Having said that, I guess I'd vote for the word "assistant to...". I think it's more accurate description than the term "legal secretary," which conjures images of banging out letters and pleadings on an old IBM Selectric and leaving phone messages on a pink "While You Were Out" message pad. So 1975! Apparently lots of law firms are in agreement with this view. More and more law firms are referring to legal secretaries as "assistants."

I understand the confusion, though. I've always felt that the line between paralegal work and legal secretarial work has become increasingly blurry, thanks to technology. Many "secretaries" are expected to draft documents and obtain information for their attorneys. A friend of mine recently got a new legal secretarial position at a large law firm. She tells me that she has only typed two pleadings in the past three months! Much of her work involves providing paralegal support to her partner. Curiously, the firm employs many paralegals.

I was a paralegal for four years (1984-1988) but happily returned to being a career legal secretary in 1988. I was tired of worrying about billable hour quotas. I was also tired of earning less money than my secretary, who left at 5:00 p.m. each day and seldom worked weekends. :) At the time, I was on the Board for the Georgia Association for Legal Assistants and helped conduct salary surveys. I discovered that I was very highly paid compared to other Atlanta paralegals -- just not compared to Atlanta legal secretaries! That's when I left the paralegal field and became a career legal secretary. I soon found myself in a secretarial position doing many creative paralegal tasks but not having the responsibility of billables.
That's all that mattered to me. (I'm happy to report that Atlanta paralegal salaries have since grown comparable to legal secretarial salaries.)

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Michelle - Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia

88 months ago

P.S. In my firm, attorneys regard paralegals, secretaries, support staff alike. They do not regard paralegals as more special than legal secretaries, despite their job title and despite their ability to bill for their work. Most of our legal secretaries have college degrees, so they are not perceived to be less-educated than paralegals.

The job title may appear nicer when telling someone what you do for a living at a ######## party, but the reality is that paralegals and secretaries are regarded as equally important and compentent -- and equally beneath lawyers who are, indeed, sometimes snotty! That's been true for all the firms I've worked at so far.

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withheld in Norcross, GA in Alpharetta, Georgia

86 months ago

I agree with Michelle in Atlanta's comments. I have been a paralegal in the Atlanta market for approx. 20 years, mostly large firm, and agree that being a legal secretary is a much better deal. The billable hour requirements for paralegals have gotten higher over the years and now are 6 1/2 to 7 hours per day. I know in the past I was usually paid less than a legal secretary, even with several years of experience. It does not take long to burn out and wish you were a legal secretary. Incidentally, I am looking for legal secretarial work, so if you have any referral recommendations (no recruiters), please let me know, thanks!

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trojangirl in Atlanta, Georgia

85 months ago

Hi I'm re-entering the law field after years of working in every other industry as an executive or administrative assistant known to man.

Is it okay to use recruiters to get back into the field?

Thanks.

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Lawyer's Right Hand in Dallas, Texas

85 months ago

Trojangirl,

It's definitely "okay" to use recruiters to get back into the field. I see no reason why it wouldn't be.

However... Be prepared to hear the "you've sure been out of legal for a long time and we don't know if we can place you" song and dance. Recruiters love to sing that one.

If I were you, I'd take a two-pronged approach:

First, find one or two recruiters who impress you as not trying to make too many excuses ahead of time for their failure to find you something, and work with them. (You might have to speak with several.)

Second, scour want ads and job Web sites, and apply to anything you might be qualified for, just as if you didn't have recruiters on the case.

Also, brush up on your legal knowledge and skills. Sorry for the shameless plug, but my blog (complete with helpful link lists) is a good place to start doing that.

LRH
lawyersrighthand.com

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David in Chicago, Illinois

84 months ago

"Legal Engineer"? Get over the initial snicker factor and carefully define it, you will see that it's an appropriate use of the term "engineer" which basically means to bring about or cause to occur into the real world or as the dictionary defines it:

"Engineer" 2. One who manages an enterprise in a shrewd or skillful way.

As a verb-transitive: 2. To plan, manage, and accomplish by skillful acts or contrivance: maneuver <engineered a meeting for the couple>

I think that describes quite well our overall actions and functions.

The only thing is that "engineer" has its own other connotations as a separate profession in itself.

But I like it! It's probably just too far ahead of its time.
_________________________

David,
Legal Engineer

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wanda in Seattle, Washington

84 months ago

David in Chicago, Illinois said: "Legal Engineer"? Get over the initial snicker factor and carefully define it, you will see that it's an appropriate use of the term "engineer" which basically means to bring about or cause to occur into the real world or as the dictionary defines it:

"Engineer" 2. One who manages an enterprise in a shrewd or skillful way.

As a verb-transitive: 2. To plan, manage, and accomplish by skillful acts or contrivance: maneuver <engineered a meeting for the couple>

I think that describes quite well our overall actions and functions.

The only thing is that "engineer" has its own other connotations as a separate profession in itself.

But I like it! It's probably just too far ahead of its time.
_________________________

David,
Legal Engineer

After 30 years with experience as both a paralegal and secretary, I jokingly refer to myself as "toady" or "drone." The satisfaction is in the job, not the title. HOWEVER ... the new crop of support staff are repulsed by the term "secretary." Even though the position may pay more and be far more interesting than a "label licker" our file clerks and trainees, without exception, set their sights on the title of "paralegal." Real titles for legal secretaries? Legal Procedure Specialist? Guardian Angel of New Associates who Know Nothing? Miracle Worker? Pragmatic Calming Force in the Face of Chaos? Runs with Pleadings (to the courthouse). Seriously though....in our state paralegals are not certified. That being the case, the client should be billed by the person doing the actual work. I'm not sure any client would be thrilled to know they were being billed at a paralegal rate for work that was actually done by a secretary.

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dh in Roseville, California

84 months ago

trojangirl in Atlanta, Georgia said: Hi I'm re-entering the law field after years of working in every other industry as an executive or administrative assistant known to man.

Is it okay to use recruiters to get back into the field?

Thanks.

Hi - I'm curious why you want to return to the law field? I did it for several years and can no longer stand it. I don't have any friends/former coworkers who enjoy their jobs. I moved to a different part of the state where the cost of living is much cheaper so that I could work part time while attending school full time to prepare for a career change. When I was young, I bounced from field to field: the military, then retail management, then the insurance industry. I can honestly say that being a legal secretary is the crappiest thing I ever did to make a living, mostly because of the attorneys. I just didn't think that $60K was a good job in OC, and I don't think $50K is that much in Northern CA. It's not enough to be a homeowner, take a real vacation, nor save enough to retire before 60 unless you have an inheritance. I never want to work in the capacity as anyone's assistant again. Nor do anything legal related.

Good luck. You've been in this field; so you know what you're getting into. I know a few who got into it

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wanda in Seattle, Washington

84 months ago

dh: Sorry for answering a post that wasn't meant for me... but, I'm really curious as to what career path you followed. I think the reason a lot of us stay in the field is because, while it won't make us rich, it does pay better than other fields. It used to carry some respect as well. I don't mind the stress or the egos if I admire and respect the attorneys I work for. However, after 30 years, it is really hard to deal with pompous newby lawyers who waste my experience and skill by giving me ridiculous personal assistant type tasks. I worked for one associate who would have me return his calls to make an appointment with the caller for him to return the call.... same guy who would walk past two photocopiers on his way to my desk to interrupt me, hand me a single page to photocopy and make me walk back over to his office... Those are the days a career change seems like a great idea. OAlthough the grass may seem greener, I'm sure there are giant jerks in any field. Many of us stay simply because we fear that there may be something even worse out there.

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dh in Rocklin, California

84 months ago

Hi Wanda - I don't mind anybody responding to anything that I write. I have such stong negative opinions toward the industry that I hope I'm not offending anyone. My career path? I'm a full time student at community college and will transfer to a university in January. I'm a Math major, and I'll be 42 when I graduate in 2 years. I just started my 3rd semester 3 weeks ago. I work 20 hours a week. By the time December arrives, I will have depleted my entire life savings and will begin to accrue school loan debt. That's kinda scary because, at my age, we want to save for retirement, not be in debt. I have no other debt. But this is something I had to do literally to save my sanity. When you absolutely hate what you do with every ounce of your being, it zaps all your strength, all your energy. I was bitter, angry and hateful. I was very twofaced at the job because my attorneys were clueless. They liked me, and one partner was very angry about my decision to return to school full time.

I think the job pays better than other fields only when you are considering jobs that don't require a bachelors degree, usually admin-type jobs. Kids fresh out of college with accounting degrees are being hired at about $48k/yr, and they'll get roughly a $25K increase over the following 5-7 years. Engineers are starting out at about $50K+. As a Math major, I want to be an Actuary or systems analyst. There's a trend now where math majors are being hired as programmers because we understand the logic.

I agree that there are bad apples everywhere, but I know a lot of people who love there jobs, and none of them are legal secretaries. I was interviewing throughout '05, trying to get a job as a loan processor, and the interviewers would always comment, "Oh my god, how do you do that." or "I've heard that's a really bad field," etc. The mortgage industry fell out; so there went my idea to transition into that field, thus my decision to go back to school.

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dh in Roseville, California

84 months ago

Title collector in Saint Louis, Missouri said: do you have a creative idea for a title that better describes what a Legal Secretary does? I've heard Administrative Legal Assistant, Practice Coordinator, Client Service Contact, Executive Legal Secretary. Is there any title you really like?

I think the title should fit the job description: "Puppet on Strings." Or better yet and more simply, "Someone's B++tch."

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wanda in Seattle, Washington

84 months ago

dh in Roseville, California said: I think the title should fit the job description: "Puppet on Strings." Or better yet and more simply, "Someone's B++tch."

Okay, I had to laugh... we call it at our firm: _____'s beotch.

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dh in Northern CA, California

84 months ago

Huh?

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dh in Northern CA, California

84 months ago

Heh, heh. This reminds me of 20 years ago when I drove fuel tanker trucks in the military. We had a storage section where these huge jet fuel tanks were, and the guys were responsible for opening/closing a valve or two to transfer fuel from one tank to another. We were "fuels specialists," and I thought that term sounded to good considering what we did, but some of these cats referred to themselves as "petroleum transfer engineer." LOL!!!!

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VPK in Toronto, Ontario

79 months ago

What is a typical legal salary?

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dh in Northern CA, California

79 months ago

VPK in Toronto, Ontario said: What is a typical legal salary?

It depends on the city in which you work. Regardless of where you are working, however, this profession is very crappy pay. If you choose to make a career out of this God-forsaken line of work, it is likely that you will be a renter the rest of your life. You'll get paid vacation days, but you won't have money to travel very far or for very long. If you are investing enough money every month to be able to retire at a decent age, then it is likely that what's left allows you to live only a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.

My opinion of a good paying job is one that allows you to simultaneously make a mortgage payment, put away enough $$ every month to retire at a decent age, and to travel for a nice vacation at least once a year - all while still having a nice, modest lifestyle without struggling throughout the rest of the year. Any nonlawyer profession in the legal industry won't allow you to do all that.

Forget the fact that it's crappy pay. You will most likely be working in an oppressive, tense, hostile, and abusive environment where you will be expected to do the next-to-impossible, and if you actually pull it off, you won't be thanked for it. You won't be appreciated, you'll be stepped on. You will be treated like you owe them something.

Network and see if you can meet some legal secretaries and ask them about the industry. It's almost impossible to find a secretary who likes her job nowadays.

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Brown in Marietta, Georgia

79 months ago

Hello all, I just wanted to ask the question of those currently leaving in the Atlanta Metro Area. I relocated from San Diego, California in August 2007, I was assured that obtaining a legal position here would not be a problem by several of the placement agencies, even flew out here in April 2007 and meet with four of them. Upon arriving, I was placed at a temporary job, not in the legal field, that lasted for all of 1 month. Now, I have been on eight interviews, I continue to get great comments, have great recommendations letters from the attorneys I was assigned to work with directly or indirectly.

I have over 17 years experience, although all in California. In addition, every time, it seems like I am going to be offered the position, the rugged is pulled from under me. I am wondering if I should just toss in the towel and move back to San Diego, CA. I really like Atlanta, wish to continue my education here, not to speak of the difference in the cost of living, but I am really becoming dishearten by the entire process.

Lastly, I never knew there was so many Placement Agency or Hiring Firms. Is it that hard to send your resume to an actual firm looking for quality employees here?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

79 months ago

I've heard the market is really tight in Atlanta; although I also heard that they have a very hard time finding qualified legal secretaries. Try going to this website:

www.paralegalgateway.com

The moderator, Jeannie Johnston, is with Hudson Personnel. Additionally, maybe someone on the list is aware of something. I'm sure that you've tried Craigslist. Maybe applying directly to firms would be a better idea. Did you also try Robert Half Legal?

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Brown in Marietta, Georgia

79 months ago

Oh..by the way, with regard to the title madness. I agree with Michelle in Atlanta. It really does not make a big difference in the title. However, with the changing times, it does bring about a lot of confusion in that regard. As, in San Diego, CA, a number of firms refer to their legal secretaries as legal assistants and their paralegals as paralegal. However, in the last firm that I was with for 7 years prior to relocating to Atlanta, they opted to change the Legal Secretaries to Legal Assistants because some of the duties were being combined and a number of the legal secretaries had more experience than the paralegals. In addition, the legal secretaries/legal assistants, actual were compensated at a much higher rate than the paralegals. The issue was addressed at an employee meeting and we were advised that because of the cross over in work, that necessitated the change of name with regard to title and because of the extra work, hence the increase in compensation. Needless, to say the paralegals were not at all happy about the turn of events, considering the amount of work they were required to do and the billable hour issue. Sorry for the rambling.

Lastly, so in order to smooth the feelings of the paralegals, we all got together and decided the following:

Legal Secretary- Prepares generic correspondence, makes and receives telephone calls and prepares very generic based pleadings, correspondence etc.

Legal Assistant- Does the basic duties of a legal secretary but then they are required to be able to step in at a moments notice and take over for the paralegal if not available, which of course means, being able to draft any requested pleading, discovery, motion, document review, trial preparation etc. without the requirement of billable hours

Paralegal: All the duties described for the legal assistant without the secretarial functions.

I welcome any responses. Thank you all in advance.

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

79 months ago

That's a very good definition. When I started legal secretaries were a kind of combination Law clerk/secretary. This was at the very beginning of paralegal education programs

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

79 months ago

wanda in Seattle, Washington said: dh: It used to carry some respect as well. I don't mind the stress or the egos if I admire and respect the attorneys I work for. However, after 30 years, it is really hard to deal with pompous newby lawyers who waste my experience and skill by giving me ridiculous personal assistant type tasks.

.....the grass may seem greener, I'm sure there are giant jerks in any field. Many of us stay simply because we fear that there may be something even worse out there.

___________________________________________________________

I agree. It's amazing how this field has changed.

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Brown in Marietta, Georgia

79 months ago

Deborah James in Alameda, California said: I've heard the market is really tight in Atlanta; although I also heard that they have a very hard time finding qualified legal secretaries. Try going to this website:

www.paralegalgateway.com

The moderator, Jeannie Johnston, is with Hudson Personnel. Additionally, maybe someone on the list is aware of something. I'm sure that you've tried Craigslist. Maybe applying directly to firms would be a better idea. Did you also try Robert Half Legal?

Thank you for responding. I have applied to jobs that I thought were placed by the actual employer only for it to be Robert Half International
Hughes & Sloan
Progessive Services
Paramount Staffing
ALC Group Staffing, and on and on. It really get upsetting after a while. And, RH here is nothing like RH in San Diego. In San Diego, I would have been working temporary already. And yes, it is truly slow. I am considering going back to San Diego.

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Tim in Lynnwood, Washington

75 months ago

wanda in Seattle, Washington said: After 30 years with experience as both a paralegal and secretary, I jokingly refer to myself as "toady" or "drone." The satisfaction is in the job, not the title. HOWEVER ... the new crop of support staff are repulsed by the term "secretary." Even though the position may pay more and be far more interesting than a "label licker" our file clerks and trainees, without exception, set their sights on the title of "paralegal." Real titles for legal secretaries? Legal Procedure Specialist? Guardian Angel of New Associates who Know Nothing? Miracle Worker? Pragmatic Calming Force in the Face of Chaos? Runs with Pleadings (to the courthouse). Seriously though....in our state paralegals are not certified. That being the case, the client should be billed by the person doing the actual work. I'm not sure any client would be thrilled to know they were being billed at a paralegal rate for work that was actually done by a secretary.

Should you choose to come to the blues club again please let me know.

Tim

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dh in Northern CA, California

74 months ago

sandinmytoes in Ontario, California said: YOU ARE IN EVERY DARN POST TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH
YOU HATE THE LEGAL FIELD. YOU ARE THE MOST MISERABLE
PERSON TRYING TO TRANSFER THOSE FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY AND MISERY TO OTHERS. PLEASE STAY AWAY FOR A WHILE AND GET SOME PERSPECTIVE HERE. YOU HAD A BAD DEAL - GET OVER IT AND MOVE ON. GEESH. I'M SO SICK OF YOUR RANT AND RAVE IN EVERY POST. I READ EXCITEDLY THE FRESH AND NEW STUFF UNTIL YOU BUTT IN WITH YOUR SAME SONG AND DANCE!!!!

You must be an attorney. You're the one ranting and raving; so you "get over it." Look at these posts. I'm not the only one who knows that the legal industry is a bad field for any non-lawyer profession.

I will continue to respond in the same way that I have been responding to anyone who writes in inquiring about this God-forsaken line of work. I don't care what you think. It's a dead-end job because there's no room for adancement - you can't get promoted anywhere. An overwhelming majority of legal secretaries and paralegals out there don't like what they do. They want out. They're scared because they fear change. Most of them are middle aged and fear that no one would want to hire them in another industry if they attempted a career change.

Your comments mean nothing to me, and I will continue to write as I have been for the last year.

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dh in Northern CA, California

74 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Why are you shouting? By typing in all caps you are the one who is ranting and raving.

You don't own this board, nor are you the moderator. You have no right to tell people when and when not to post. dh or any other poster can post any comments he or she wants on any forum as long as the Terms of Service are followed.

If you disagree with dh, why don't you just say so and say why instead of resorting to personal attacks.

LOL!! Thank you, DLP.

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Ava Sanchez in Atlanta, Georgia

74 months ago

*snickers*

I thought I was the only one who noticed how negative she/ he is. LOL

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dh in Northern CA, California

74 months ago

sandinmytoes in Ontario, California said: Lady get a life already. You are in EVERY darn thread going on and on about what a dead in job it is. It's obvious you

A. have NO life
B.are miserable

C. have NOT moved on with your life despite your claims of going to college and getting a degree. You have ruined every thread you've gone into repeating the same rhetoric over and over and over again! We got it the first 500 times. You enjoy beating a dead horse. I can see why you didn't succeed. Instead of trying to change others how about change yourself? With that attitude you won't make it in the accounting profession or ANY profession. If you're so concerned about dead end jobs why aren't you on the McDonald's forum talking to them??? You are so upset some people actually LIKE what they do and are making a good living at it. You are NEGATIVE and PATHETIC! I come in here looking for useful information and just when someone posts something POSITIVE here you come with your crybaby a%S. You are a LOSER LADY!

Wow. I don't know what to say. I'm sitting here laughing my hinny off. You are the one who seems like a very angry and unhappy person. If you like being a legal secretary so much, tell us about it. Why do you like it? What makes you stay? Enlighten us. I'm serious. I wouldn't respond with angry comments like those above because I'd really be interested in hearing about it. I've never heard from someone who enjoys being a legal secretary. All my former coworkers, paralegals and secretaries alike, hate it. You'd be the first person with whom I "spoke" who likes this line of work. There's nothing wrong with liking it. I just never met anyone who did.

In the meantime, I won't be responding to any more childish comments like those above. They bore me and contribute nothing to the forum.

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dh in Northern CA, California

74 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: sandinmytoes in Ontario, California: "Lady, get a life already. You are in EVERY darn thread going on and on about what a dead in job it is."

Apparently you didn't read my remarks, above, that anyone can post any comments on any Indeed forum at any time without restriction as long as he/she adheres to the Terms of Service.

Let the rant continue:

"You have ruined every thread you've gone into repeating the same rhetoric over and over and over again! We got it the first 500 times. You enjoy beating a dead horse. I can see why you didn't succeed. Instead of trying to change others how about change yourself? "

Actually, dh is going to college and earning an Econ degree. Is that not good enough for you?

"With that attitude you won't make it in the accounting profession or ANY profession. If you're so concerned about dead end jobs why aren't you on the McDonald's forum talking to them???"

Because dh is addressing nonlawyer legal careers, not culinary careers.

"You are so upset some people actually LIKE what they do and are making a good living at it."

Are you one such person, sandinmyshoes? Do tell, and spare us the vitriol.

"You are NEGATIVE and PATHETIC! I come in here looking for useful information and just when someone posts something POSITIVE here you come with your crybaby ass. You are a LOSER, LADY!"

From the tenor of your comments, you are in no position to criticize. Moreover, you are another one who cannot recognize discussion and honest disagreement for what it is, and can respond only with ad hominem attacks. An ad hominem attack is an inept debating technique some people use when they cannot discuss issues.

Do you have anything to contribute besides vitriol, sandinmyshoes? Exactly what kind of information do you want?

Thank you, DLP. I had to laugh at her latest comments. We need "Mary from Boston." She hasn't been around in a while!! LOL!

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dh in Northern CA, California

74 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: dh in Northern CA, California: "We need 'Mary from Boston.'"

We do. And don't forget about Ms. Legal Secretary Perfection, Dee Dee from Delaware. LOL!

That's right!! LOL! I almost forgot about her. Ms. Trendsetter at the office. haha.

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PGara in Herrin, Illinois

70 months ago

Looking for legal assistant/paralegal position in the Knoxville/Maryville, TN area. Have 36 years legal experience in FL, the last 27 in the area of real estate. Would appreciate any suggestions on how to break into the legal field there. Thanks.

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PGara in Herrin, Illinois

70 months ago

Thank you. I have been doing that for quite sometime. I don't get much response since I live in a different area at present, even though I say I can relocate in two weeks. I have been saying I have 20+ years experience, rather than 36. I moved back to my hometown in IL but have found it hard to adjust to the smaller area. But I can't afford to move to another area until I have a job in place.

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PGara in Herrin, Illinois

70 months ago

Have been doing all of that already but I appreciate all of your suggestions. My two past legal jobs in FL have been long-term (one 25 years & one 11 years). I think I will go ahead again & send letters & resume to firms that interest me in the Knoxville, Maryville, TN area & also work through the bar assn.

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PGara in Herrin, Illinois

70 months ago

O.K. I'll try that. Thanks for your help.

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PGara in Herrin, Illinois

70 months ago

By the way, I have been reading all of these prior comments regarding legal secretaries vs. legal assistants vs. paralegals. I, for one, LOVE being in the legal field & have a passion for it. That is why I stay with it. I started as a legal secretary in 1971 in FL with no experience whatsoever. I remember saying to one of my bosses when I started: "Aren't you even going to give me a typing test?" He replied "If you don't know how to type, we will find out soon enough." (ha) I will always remember that about my first firm, where I worked for 25 years. My bosses were very kind and we were all treated with respect. My bosses realized I had potential & were kind & taught me so very much. We were given opportunities to become involved in the legal field & go to seminars & become involved with local & state associations. I even remember that I got to attend many out-of-state seminars in those earlier days (with the firm paying). After 16 years at the first firm, I was given more responsibility as a real estate paralegal. I gained a lot of experience in that position and appreciate my bosses' giving me the opportunity. In my second position of 11 years at a larger firm, I guess I would be considered a "legal assistant." It was a very busy position where I assisted with real estate transactions. I didn't have time to actually do the closings myself; however, I did bill part of my time where I did prepare documets, did research, etc. FL is in the process of licensing paralegals; however, many such as myself can be grandfathered in because of many years of experience. In that state, it seems experience matters more than a degree. You can work up to pretty good pay there. We have a wonderful association there - www. falss.org. Anyone in or involved with the legal field is welcome.....no matter what your "title."

So. IL pay is really low, about half of FL pay. I am looking for a change in scenery; however, so seeking work in the Knoxville, TN area.

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PGara in Herrin, Illinois

70 months ago

Yes, I realize I have been very fortunate in FL, where we have a wonderful state association & are very involved & appreciated by the attorney associations. We work very closely with the Bar activities. I do really miss my legal associations in FL. & hope I can find the same in TN. Nothing like that in So. IL. I am working with the Knoxville Bar Assn. to try to find a job in that area. So hopefully that will pan out. It's difficult to make all of these big life changes. If it doesn't work out in TN, I will probably go back to FL where I have a lot of contacts.

I did want to point out though that there are many good attorneys around who are kind & appreciative of their staff. Most of our attorneys/staff from my first law firm of 25 years still keep in touch to this day & many from my second law firm of 11 years. When you work together for so many years, you become like family & that is truly the way it should be.....everyone working together as a team.....

Thank you for letting me tell you all about my positive experiences and for your advice in relocating to a new area.

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JRL in Los Angeles, California

70 months ago

Dear DH, Indeed, it is an enormous drain on a person, both physically and emotionally, to be in an "oppressive, tense, hostile and abusive" environment, as you described, and of course it would zap your energy! I've been in jobs like that, and it had the same effect on me. It was a pretty simple solution - I left. However, in the 20+ years I've been in the legal field, those jobs were the exception. Even with the bad apples - and perhaps because of them - I learned a great deal and benefitted from the experience. The legal field is challenging and diverse because every area of life has a corresponding area in the law. While my kids were little, I worked at part time and temp legal jobs as an independent contractor or through a placement firm and LOVED the variety, and not being tied down to one employer. It gave me a tremendous advantage when I was ready to go full time, because of the range of experiences it gave me. Some positions are dreadfully mundane, others excrutiatingly stressful. But that's what the rest life is like! As with anything else, it's 10% luck and 90% attitude. I don't know of any other white collar career where a person without a formal education can excel as much. It is great that you are going for your degree. Many people, however, are not interested in higher education or in a position to pursue it, which makes legal work a good choice. On the other hand, if a person "clicks" with the work, they may well decide to get their own legal degree and MANY employers support that goal. If all of your "coworkers, paralegals and secretaries hate their jobs", they were probably feeding off your negativity. Any one who is "bitter, angry & hateful" is unlikely to get positive feedback. With all due respect, I'm curious as to why you continue to post here.

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dh in Northern CA, California

70 months ago

JRL in Los Angeles, California said: Dear DH, Indeed, it is an enormous drain on a person, both physically and emotionally, to be in an "oppressive, tense, hostile and abusive" environment, as you described... "coworkers, paralegals and secretaries hate their jobs", they were probably feeding off your negativity. Any one who is "bitter, angry & hateful" is unlikely to get positive feedback. With all due respect, I'm curious as to why you continue to post here.

My coworkers hated their jobs because of the people for whom they worked. A great majority of legal secretaries I know are tired, weary, burnt out. Throughout my last year in the industry, when I was researching careers and trying ot find my way out of this God-forsaken industry, I got to know a lot of secretaries more personally. I started asking them questions such as how they got into this industry, why they made the decision to do this, and why they stayed (because it seemed that most of them hated it). A lot of them, when they first got in, said at the time they started they had planned on it being only temporary. They came to rely on the income. Fear of change is what keeps most of them in it. Many of them are older than I and feel that employers in other industries would not be interested in hiring someone their age at entry level.

As for your ignorant comment about coworkers feeding off my negativity, I kept my attitude to myself. I received great year-end reviews; my raises my last two years in the industry were $2500 each year, plus a $2500 Xmas bonus both years. My one named partner was shocked and angry when I announced my plans to return to school full time and told them I would be available only for p/t work. I have to admit, I was fake. I put on a good face and played the part of a loyal employee who liked the job while I secretly planned my exit. Almost on a daily basis I had to hold my tongue and maintain self-control so that I could keep the job and leave when I'M ready.

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dh in Northern CA, California

70 months ago

continued from above:

...not because they fired me because I lost my cool. I never let my real attitude show because I know that no employer wants an employee who felt the way I felt; so I kept that fake smile and dutifully did my job until it was time to go. The only negative feedback I ever received in an employee review was that I wouldn't do overtime, and they wanted me to spend more time with clients on the phone, getting to know them more personally (I had no interest in the clients but was always polite). I've never been told I had an attitude prob.

One morning I got to the office early, and another paralegal and I were there alone. We started talking, I can't remember about what, but I burst into tears. I said, "Kris, I don't know how I got myself into this mess, but I hate it and don't know what to do." I was referring to my age, the fact that I was in a dead-end job and would never retire or own a home if I continued down this road. She was shocked and told me, "I had no idea. You have a good attitude." I had to be two-faced at the job.

I post here because I want to. Anyone who doesn't like what I write doesn't have to read. If you look around, you will see that I'm one of SEVERAL people on this forum with the same opinion of this industry. A lot of us have a lot in common. Some people need to know that they aren't alone in their awful experiences with this line of work. Other write in to ask about it because they are considering it, and I do my best to discourage them. That's why I write.

If you like being a secretary, more power to you. You are definitely a rare breed.

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dh in Northern CA, California

70 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Yes. Ninety percent attorney bad attitude! And that's the point. Keeping up with a big workload that consistently requires you to put in more hours than you are paid for is bad enough. Dealing with multiple deadlines makes it worse. But I think demanding, **ungrateful,**, tight, selfish, intense, hostile and acerbic attorneys cause most of the stress...

Thanks, DLP.

"Ninety percent attorney bad attitude!" I second that!!

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dh in Northern CA, California

70 months ago

One more thing I want to add. Sorry if I'm boring anyone.

For some strange reason, every now an then people will approach me because they're considering the legal industry. They told their friend they wanted to be a paralegal, and the friend says, "Oh, go talk to D." And that's how I get these people. I do my best to talk each one of these girls out of it, and I think I succeed. Just last month I was in the library and overheard students talking about law school. I told them to make sure they finish-"Don't stop short because you got burnt out and then decide to be a paralegal." I tell the kids not to consider any nonlawyer profession in the legal industry.

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dh in Northern CA, California

70 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Definitely. One may as well be a lawyer because they have the power. Lawyers can have practice partners; paralegals cannot partner with attorneys. Lawyers can split fees, but not with paralegals. The sky's the limit for lawyer earning power; $90K-$100K paralegal pay? In your dreams. (But I'd love to know for my own edification if there are paralegal jobs that pay > $100K.) ...

Remember two words if you become a lawyer: respect and humility. Respect your legal assistants. Treat them with respect. Exploit their abilities but do not exploit their time beyond reasonableness. It'll pay you in terms of loyalty and hard work. I realize loyalty is a lost concept in the new millennium.

Humility. You may be a lawyer and have the power but you don't know everything. You'll be surprised at how much your legal assistants know. Listen to them. Harness their knowledge. Help them over their tough spots. It'll also pay you.

DLP- My real estate partners in Orange County, so I was told, made $350-$400K/year. The tax associate (I know he was making $180+) told me he thought the one paralegal was making over $100K. She has both her bachelors degree and paralegal certificate from USC. She has 20+ years' exp and specializes in helping people set up their companies, Articles of Incorporation, etc. There was another p/t paralegal who was on contract. She charged them $60/hour to work for them 3 years ago. I know these are, by far, exceptions. Every other paralegal I know - all of the civil lit paralegals - made roughly what I made.

Apparently, when it comes to money, paralegals and attys make a lot more in real estate than civil lit (??). Unfortunately, that's not true for secretaries, receptionists, and file clerks.

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dh in Northern CA, California

70 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I believe it, given the locale. Of course, SoCal pays more for most jobs than around here, anyway, and that's fine. It costs more to live in California than here. I suspect the same job here would pay $65K. Nonetheless, $100K+ is remarkable paralegal pay, but, I submit, the exception.

In the city in which I lived, I don't think you can get an apartment for less than $2000 now-unless the economy has changed that. Where I am now, they offered me to have me sign a 15-month lease, no increase, and $500 off first month at the new lease. My rent is locked in til Nov, '09. Last year I renewed for a $10 increase. I noticed today they're advertising no deposits on move in-there are a lot of empty apartments. In OC, they offer to renew your lease for a $100 increase, and maybe you can negotiate it down to a $70 increase. No increase for a 15-mo lease is unheard of.

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dh in Northern CA, California

70 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: $2K? For what kind of place? I've been in Orange County and know it has its good and bad areas. Nonetheless, my mortgage payment is much less than $2K...

I paid $1535 for a 2+2, almost 1000 sq feet in Irvine. The only ammenity we had was a shared laundry room nearby and community pool and jacuzzi. I left 8/06, but on 9/1/06 my rent would've increased to $1635 had I renewed my lease. I'd been living there several years at that time and was being charged a less than brand new renters coming in. I think my floor plan was being advertised for $1,780-1,800 when I left.

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dh in Northern CA, California

70 months ago

oops. Here's the rest.

I now pay $1095 for a 2+2, 1045 sq ft. I have W/Dryr inside my unit; our complex has basketball/tennis courts, 3 pools, 2 gyms. There's a rec center with air hocky and "fooz" ball tables (no idea how to spell that), a huge flat screen TV (DVD's can be checked out), and computers for kids to go in and do homework and print stuff for free. My rent has increased $10 since moving in over 2 years ago, and remember I'm locked in at my current rate for another year.

I still keep in touch with a great recruiter in OC. Had I stayed in the industry and in OC, I would possibly be making $68K right now - max - because I won't interview for any full-fledged secretarial position, only WP or floater/WP. This, of course, assuming that I change jobs when necessary to keep my salary with the rate. Had I taken that job in '05 at $6500 more than what I was being paid at that time, I'd be due for yet another job change. Good secretaries are now getting hired for $70+ down there. The recruiter told me its getting harder and harder for them to find good secretaries. I wonder why.

Pay is less here, but in relation to COL, I would have more extra money if I chose to continue as a LS here.

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