Worked as a Paralegal - and transitioned my skills to something else

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

72 months ago

After becoming a Paralegal and working in law firms, I became fed up many times and tried to escape. I applied to banks and corporations that listed legal skills and other requirements in the job decription.

HUM- My first attempt was Sunoco Corporation headquarters in Philadelphia, PA. I wrote about this experience under another forum "looking into becoming a paralegal..." My second attempt was a position in a large bank in Miami, FL.

Before moving to Miami, I performed my due dillegence job search and came upon this Bank job listing in Miami that fit my transition goal. Firstly, I had to hunt this job down like crazy the fox. Geez, it turned into the "Hunt for Red October."

I had the bank name, location Miami, job description, job number, but specific address remained a mystery. I was not interested in faxing my resume to the bank cyper space department. After arriving in Miami, I went on the hunt, beginning with an HR department of the bank in my area. From there I got assistance, after urging them that this job does exist. Finally, I get the address to submit my resume and the person's name in charge of the department. AND I got an interview.

The job description was a great match of my existing skills and off I went to the interview believing in a positive result. The first female department person I interviewed was nice. Next I interviewed with the female head of department. Then she BELCHED loudly during the interview. This particular senorita was not letting me in through the gate.

I remember she asked the interview question: "How would you handle an angry upset customer" [close enough]

I responded: FIrstly I would ascertain the grievance, apologize for any inconvenience and then follow-up and fix the problem in a timely fashion so the result is happy customer" [close enough] The senorita BELCHED away making my head spin in confusion. My answer could not have been so wrong to elcit such BELCHING. ANd the interview spiraled [cont'd

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

72 months ago

cont'd

down in the negative, while I kept smiling. I did not get a job offer.

Kindly tell us of your successful or not so much transition stories from working paralegal to something else that utilized your paralegal skills.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

72 months ago

My first attempt was at Sunoco, headquartered in Philadelphia. I applied for an Adminstrative position [non-legal] and was interviewed. My plan was to get a job in a corporation at decent pay and then move up the ranks. Additionally, Sunoco posted a position in their Real Estate Department listing legal skills and other requirements.

Ok, got my game plan on and off to the interview I go, hoping for a positive result. Ha- The man in charge of the department I was interviewing for was old-school success. He had worked himself up from the mailroom to head of a department with only a H.S. diploma. After telling me about his career in Sunoco, he said to me, "with your degree from Boston University, did't you want to set the world on fire?" Wow- yeah, I felt like a loser from his perspective. However, I overcame the objection with "yes, and I would like to start here."[close enough]

Unfortunately, he continued to spiral the interview down in a negative path. I did not get a job offer.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

72 months ago

Kindly tell us of your successful or not so much transition stories from working paralegal to something else that utilized your paralegal skills.

I took a job as a stripper when I was 25. One of my friends was a stripper. She got me the job. It was the absolutely sleeziest part of Tampa. Unfortunately, I was not a very good stripper. After three days, they asked me to leave.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

72 months ago

Another escape job away from paralegal.

I obtained a postion in a national well know plumbing Company. To do so, I had to change my college education and remove my Paralegal certifacte from Resume. Additonally, I altered my job title from Paralegal to Legal Assistant. All the rest remained true. And of course I had to edit my job duties; tailor them to the job description. Job duties were true just tweeked to match job descrption.

Great. Got the job. 40K withe great benefits. Problem was fit. As to the work, no problem. Why I was out of there in 6 weeks: For starters, a Plumber threatened to throw me up againt the wall becasue I spoke to him in a "college eduacated voice." Not a good day. To complicate the situation, the head plumber whose paper work I was handling was hitting on me, every week, big time.

Bottom line- I was out the door. Why: a college educated gal, who dressed down to blend in with the crew of office people _ I love busines casual- still, struck the wrong interest and accord with the blue-collar employees. Bad fit- and very unsusual circumstance - but they happened. NO-I did not incite them.

Another escape from the legal world with comparable pay and benefits failed.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:

I tried driving on alternative avenues in my paralegal transferable skills vehicle.

When I was in paralegal school, it was already preaching alternative employment. (It undoubtedly knew, but obviously wouldn't reveal to us, that finding legal jobs around here is hard.)

Fast forward twelve years. I had lost my job and was disgusted with working with and for lawyers. So I sent twenty apps to title companies. In that vein, I applied to auto dealerships for car title work. I thought my skills would transfer nicely. Nuttin'.

I applied to banks for various jobs, from teller to trust department to whatever. Nada.

A hospital advertised for an appointment setter. I thought I offered great experience and transferable skills for that job. ... I applied for that hospital job. No cigar.

My experiences have persuaded me that while paralegals accumulate excellent skills, only law is interested in them, and the "transferable skills" myth is only that - a myth. Your mileage may vary, but probably not by much.

Great comment. You put in your efforts to escape and got nada. And you have outlined "several" tranferable skill "fits" - no cigars.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

P.S. Thanks for posting DLP. I believe this forum warrants attention to the subject at hand.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

I have copied and pasted former legal staff person dh in CA.
This is her story of attempting to escape the legal field:

Hi - I, too, didn't feel I had marketable skills outside of law. In '05, I took real estate classes and earned my loan processing certificate by taking evening classes. I was desperate to get out of law and was interviewing for jobs in the mortgage industry w/starting pay 60% of the job I would be leaving but a lot more money in the long run - had the mortage industry not crashed. I went to countless interviews, sometimes 2nd and 3rd interviews, but no offers.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

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

The topic does need to be addressed. I still find it hard to beleive that except for esoteric legal-related knowledge X years of paralegal experience has no value outside of law ...

Great Comment DLP. It is astounding and befuddling that our skills are not transferable, especially when some legal knowledge is listed in the job requirements.

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

66 months ago

What I am finding, too, is even within the legal field, it's tough to transition from one area of law to another.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

Yes, it is hard to transition from one field of law, as a paralegal, to another area of law.

Key point made by DLP: You need someone to give you a chance.

I was thinking as to why I kept submitting resumes to large firms advertising for corporate positions. I had no experience in corporate. I figure the reason was due to these postions being advertised. I was using the "Legal Intelligencer", the Philadelphia legal newspaper.

By the 3rd firm interviewing me for said position, I was giving up emotionally as soon as they said as the opening statement: You have no corporate experience.

That is you key to sell yourself: From a TV show (Will & Grace), lawyer Will said: Bring something to the table that no one else has and do whatever it takes to close the deal.

I did not know how to sell myself that way.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

Sell my transferable paralegal skills. That is what I did. I did not see any other cards to put on the table.

I did add in interview that I was willing to do what it takes to learn corporate

AND what my knowledge was of corporate etc.- such as documents get filed with Secretary of State.

Only due the best one can do at the time. I tried to transfer into these corporate positions, especially becasue they were in Big law firms. Where the money and benefits are.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

AND that I had proven already that I have to ability to learn legal- proof almost 2 years at first job.

So I quess I covered my selling points.

Transitioning the para skills into something else- or even transfereing the para skills into another area of law- both difficult.

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

66 months ago

I would like to transition my paralegal skills and work as a checker at Wal-mart - which I would consider a job upgrade.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Yeah, but Wally World would say you're overqualified. Once again proving the excellent skills one learns in law aren't so excellent in the real world.

That is why, DLP, they would not consider you for the car title work position.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

Point- transferring down is hard, even though the individual is willing to accept the terms of employment - big pay cut.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Well, to get that job I probably should have put that I had dropped out of high school and only recently passed the GED.

And that is how you transfer down.

To get the plumbing company 40k job, I removed Paralegal Certificate, changed my education to University of Delaware and wrote my resume on the down key of job duties.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

66 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Sarcasm intentional on my post above your last one, Cindy.

But that is how you transfer down.

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sg in Greenwood, Indiana

62 months ago

Kudos to all of these comments! After reading these comments, I don't feel so quite alone. I have spent the last 20 years as a legal assistant/paralegal working in various areas of the law over the years (i.e., probate, estate planning, real estate, municipal fiancance, creditors' rights, bankruptcy, criminal defense, insurance defense, etc.) I have obtained an associates degree in Paragelegal Technology (that's what they called in 1997) and earlier this year earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice. A month after graduating, I lost my job due to the econony. For the past three months, I have been seeking work as a paralegal, legal assistant, etc. My favorite response is "while you have excellent skills, background and credentials, we cannot offer you a position at this time." What does that mean? I'm at my wit's end!!!

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mary in Tampa, Florida

62 months ago

THAT MEANS - you're going to expect more than $12.00 an hour for pay - so you're not being considered.

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mary in Tampa, Florida

62 months ago

They apparently believe nonlawyers make excellent insurance salespeople and agency owners.

I'm laughing.

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sg in Greenwood, Indiana

62 months ago

Thanks for your input. I appreciate it. However, I'm running out of options and ideas (and money). Since the end of June, I've applied for approximately 75 jobs and had 7 seven interviews. I really need to work. The "temp agencies" can't even find me anything. I have even applied to other states and nada. They have enough unemployed in their own states to deal with I suppose. I will just keep pluggin away! Thanks!

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sg in Greenwood, Indiana

62 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: They apparently believe nonlawyers make excellent insurance salespeople and agency owners.

I'm laughing.

I don't believe I would make a good sales person at anything!

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sg in Greenwood, Indiana

62 months ago

I'm beginning to regret my decision in getting my BA (CJ). Now I have student loans to pay (no job with which to do that), and it seems that having the degree doesn't really make a that much of a difference. After having worked with with attorneys for 20 years, I got tired of their attitudes and treatment of staff. I thougt the only way to change that, was to become one. I have since changed my mind, but finished the BA degree any way and have no desire for law school. I am stumped on what to do with a Criminal Justice degree. Oh well...such is life.

maybe I'll end up a Starbucks!!

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mary in Tampa, Florida

62 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: They apparently believe nonlawyers make excellent insurance salespeople and agency owners.

I'm laughing.

I think where this came from is when we put our resumes on the internet, like Career Builder - and we get responses from insurance agencies to be salesmen, with that response, we reviewed your resume, it is impressive, and we believe you will be great ...

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

sg in Greenwood, Indiana said: I'm beginning to regret my decision in getting my BA (CJ). Now I have student loans to pay (no job with which to do that), and it seems that having the degree doesn't really make a that much of a difference. After having worked with with attorneys for 20 years, I got tired of their attitudes and treatment of staff. I thougt the only way to change that, was to become one. I have since changed my mind, but finished the BA degree any way and have no desire for law school. I am stumped on what to do with a Criminal Justice degree. Oh well...such is life.

maybe I'll end up a Starbucks!!

There is a book entitled "Starbucks saved my Life" [close enough] it is a true story, a NYC ad executive lost his job around age 50....ended up working a t Starbucks....loved the job and the treatment..

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dh in Northern CA, California

61 months ago

kmm in Wilmington, Delaware said: There is a book entitled "Starbucks saved my Life" [close enough] it is a true story, a NYC ad executive lost his job around age 50....ended up working a t Starbucks....loved the job and the treatment..

I've heard great things about Starbucks. The girl that grew up next door to me while I still lived at home managed a Starbucks for a few years after college.

Last year, I read in the local paper that 7 Starbucks were closing in the metro area nearest where I live.

I'm going to check out that book anyways. The few Starbucks in my town are open and busy everytime I go by. I thought about that, along with bartending, for part time work in addition to the part time job I already have. I'll be out of school next month!!

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aciosa in Atlanta, Georgia

60 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: I think where this came from is when we put our resumes on the internet, like Career Builder - and we get responses from insurance agencies to be salesmen, with that response, we reviewed your resume, it is impressive, and we believe you will be great ...

I just took my resume off CareerBuilder for this very reason. I am not interested in working for AFLAC!!! :-)

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kmm in Wilmington, DE in Kingston, Pennsylvania

60 months ago

sg in Greenwood, Indiana said: Kudos to all of these comments! After reading these comments, I don't feel so quite alone. I have spent the last 20 years as a legal assistant/paralegal working in various areas of the law over the years (i.e., probate, estate planning, real estate, municipal fiancance, creditors' rights, bankruptcy, criminal defense, insurance defense, etc.) I have obtained an associates degree in Paragelegal Technology (that's what they called in 1997) and earlier this year earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice. A month after graduating, I lost my job due to the econony. For the past three months, I have been seeking work as a paralegal, legal assistant, etc. My favorite response is "while you have excellent skills, background and credentials, we cannot offer you a position at this time." What does that mean? I'm at my wit's end!!!

oh paralegal, thank you for your input of information...this stuff does happen..to responsible persons...and it is a bit*ch...diligent working still...with a work history..gone "girl interupped" through no fought...of his /her own...it happens and we know>

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kmm in Wilmington, DE in Kingston, Pennsylvania

60 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: They apparently believe nonlawyers make excellent insurance salespeople and agency owners.

I'm laughing.

good thing ..you are lol, lol

what else to do as it makes no sense

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

57 months ago

AS DPL commented..although we do have basic transferable skills...no industry except law seems to recognize it..I beleive they think we will jump ship IF we get a paralegal job offer...

WHen I interviewed for a bank position...the words legal were in the job description..BUT...I interviewed with the head person..and she was a female...and I was done...

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Terpenl in Kingston, New York

54 months ago

Trying to find my partner w/20 years paralegal experience a similar position. Like belching interviewer above, I had a job interview several years ago with Oxford Health Services and the lead question was "Why do you want to work?" period. Not at Oxford Health or as an IT person, etc. The interview spiralled down from there. My partner is finding it hard to locate a comparable position for the same pay rate and with the slow economy.

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