What are the best litigation paralegal qualifications and training to get ahead?

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Host

What is the best training for becoming a litigation paralegal? What types of ongoing training or certifications are necessary to be an effective litigation paralegal?

What do non-traditional career paths look like?

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dh in Northern CA, California

81 months ago

I SECOND THAT!! Hello, Displaced Legal. To the Host, please take his advice seriously because he knows what he's talking about!! I have my paralegal certificate from UCLA; I've never used it. Entry level jobs were paying $12-$14/hr at the time, and I was already making $14; so I took a word processing job at $18/hr and moved on to secretarial crap thereafter. I didn't do the proper research before entering the industry and grew to thoroughly hate it very quickly. For me, earning my paralegal certificate was $3k down the drain. I had no coworkers - neither paralegals nor secretaries - who liked their jobs. Litigation is by far the worst; that's where you'll find the most foul-temepered attys. My close friend, a paralegal in Orange County, wrote me recently, "I'd rather burn myself alive than choose this profession all over again." After 5 1/2 years in the field, I could take it no more. I moved to Northern CA where cost of living is cheaper. I'm a full time student and work 20 hrs/week. I'm depleting my entire life savings and accruing massive debt at 40 when I should be saving for retirement so that I can retire at a decent age. With this debt, I'll work until I'm 70. I don't care; I want to live the rest of my life having a job - a career - I enjoy. Besides, paralegal and secretary jobs don't pay enough to prepare a decent retirement anyways. It's nothing but a JOB - Just Over Broke. I suggest you develop a CAREER instead.

Any nonlawyer position is dead-end. There's no room for advancement, and contrary to popular belief, the pay is NOT good. Even if it was good pay, if you hate what you do, the money doesn't matter. Take a look at other threads on this website, especially the secretary threads. My advice is not only should you reconsider litigation but reconsider entering this industry altogether.

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dh in Northern CA, California

81 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Continued from previous post....

According to ads and postings I've seen, paralegals here can make $55K. I set forth a $48K-$54K salary expectation at a couple of interviews. The interviewers weren't fazed. I realize that kind of money is chicken feed in SoCal, dh. But it sounds awfully good to me after being paid only $40K with eleven years of experience.

After writing all this, I agree with dh. Stay out of litigation. The foul tempers, bad personalities and overall aggravation just aren't worth it IMHO. Lawyers in other specialties may not be as bad. After working in two other specialities, I can tell you they can exhibit similar borderline-sociopathic traits from time to time.

Good luck with school, dh.

Hi Displaced Legal - The salary range you mentioned isn't quite "chicken feed"! LOL. Where I have relocated, it's actually pretty decent.

To answer your question about UCLA's paralegal program, it's ABA approved, and you are a warded 34 quarter units of postgraduate professional credit once you graduate. I don't know how this works if one wanted to transfer these credits and apply them to graduate work at a state university. You don't need a bachelor's degree to be accepted to the program, but you do need to have completed 60 semester units, including English composition, plus pass an entrance test. It's been around since 1970. It has a great reputation, but, of course, I regret going thru the program. The money I spent could have been used toward a bachelors degree in something totally unrelated to legal!! That's what I get for not doing the very necessary research in advance.

Thank you for wishing me luck with school. I start state university Jan 28th and look forward to it.

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Linda in Saint Louis, Missouri

81 months ago

Do you know anyone who has attended the Paralegal program at Hickey College in St. Louis? Do they have evening classes?
I've been working as a Legal Secretary for 21 years and would like to move forward as a Paralegal. My position as a Legal Secretary is very very slow and I am capable of so much more.
Thanks.

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Linda in Saint Louis, Missouri

81 months ago

Thank you for your valuable information, I really appreciate it.

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dh in Northern CA, California

81 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Thanks for the info. The UCLA program sounds like one needs the equivalent of an Associate's degree for entrance. It also sounds like it was one of the first paralegal programs.

Once again, dh, good luck with school.

Thank you.

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Lindsay - Question about Great West in Saint Louis, Missouri

81 months ago

Host said: What is the best training for becoming a litigation paralegal? What types of ongoing training or certifications are necessary to be an effective litigation paralegal?

What do non-traditional career paths look like?

It's important to be Certified and a college degree in almost any major is acceptable. UCLA has a fantastic Paralegal program! UC Berkeley & UC Davis "now" have a very online program (thought it costs about $6,000). I know that a Certified Paralegal with a min. of an AA degree at a top law firm makes about $50,000 - $60,000 in St. Louis!

Does anyone out there know what it's like to work for Great West Healthcare/Life Ins. Company? How are their salaries?

Thanks very much.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

80 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: "Any nonlawyer position is dead-end. There's no room for advancement, and contrary to popular belief, the pay is NOT good. Even if it was good pay, if you hate what you do, the money doesn't matter."

I agree and disagree. Some nonlawyers have advanced to law firm management. /[QUOTE]/

I would say that very few nonlawyers advance to Firm Andministrator positions. Why? How many Administraors does it take to manage a firm? A top salary for Firm Administrator in Large FIrm is $70K. From there is has to fall - but perhaps not as demanding as being a Paralegal.

FOr a single girl, who plays her cards right, and gets the added ingredient of luck and timing, she can meet a man with a very good job, get married, and eventually be out of this legal industry. Low and behold, professional men do hold the Paralegal in higher esteem than the "secretary" - not always. That was my plan for being a Paralegal. Met the men with money, just had no chemistry for these particular fellows. Thus I failed to meet my intended goal of being a Paralegal. I know many Paralegals who have met that goal, now have happy and much easier lives.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

80 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: No, Cindy, you did not fail at being a paralegal. You were employed as one for ten years. For sure, you did not have an easy go of it, but because you were employed as a paralegal you did not fail.

Thank you DLP. - To coin one of your terms, just "dunno" - frankly do not want to know - I am looking into House Flipping, being an extra on a moview set, and continuing to keep up my looks - the knowledge I have from law. Oh, I was employed as a Paralegal(and not making trial binders for the substance of my work, yuk) and I was also quickly Unemployed. Trust me - a rollercoaster ride I will never go on again - . Live and learn- I lived the Paralegal life, in spurts - but I never learned how to keep a job. It is over now. My bizarro life.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

80 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: No, Cindy, you did not fail at being a paralegal. You were employed as one for ten years. For sure, you did not have an easy go of it, but because you were employed as a paralegal you did not fail.

Hum - It cannot be said thta I was able to get employment as a Paralegal. Unfortunately - I lacked a certain kind of skill to keep my job.

Skilled at getting a job, skilled at doing the job - not skilled at keeping the job. This blog has made me see the obvious.

I agree with the saying - if you find yourself changing jobs every 6 months - it is not the boss it is You. Thus Me - The "Who I am, Me - was causing my downfall. And I was unable to change it.Because I could not identify it. that is not cool.

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Teresa in Ventura, California

80 months ago

I've been a legal secretary for over 10 years and have worked in various secretarial capacities during my career of over 30 years. Whether an admin. assist., executive assistant or "legal assistant," - you can take your show on the road and make a decent living and work for great people. Why mention the ones that were not?

I've considered taking the UC Berkeley on-line paralegal program - for my own education and to enhance my skills - not to become a "paralegal." Does anyone have information on this program? Up front, it sounds like a crash course and is very expensive.

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Lin in Saint Louis, Missouri

80 months ago

I have looked into the "Berkeley" online Paralegal course myself, I was impressed compared to many other Paralegal courses...however, as I understand it, you pay for the entire course up front and it costs about $7,000 (you probably already know that). It depends upon your age and many more years you plan to work. I believe a Paralegal position would be a stable income for many years (even if the attorneys are unpleasant to work for...at least it's a nice income).

Legal Secretary's are almost a thing of the past where I work...but, not so for the Paralegals.

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Cindy in Saint Louis, Missouri

80 months ago

Dear Displaced in Denver,

You sound so unhappy and negative or perhaps on the edge of burnout. Try temping...you could have a new adventure every week or so...just a thought.

I know... I've been unhappy in my job too until I didn't have one for 6 months and no place to live, boy oh boy, did my attitude change.

What is your true passion? I had difficulty finding mine...good luck!

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Teresa in Ventura, California in Los Angeles, California

80 months ago

To "Displaced in Colorado" - I'm "grandfathered" in as a paralegal in California, but continue to take courses that are pertinent and useful in my profession and employment. Just make sure it's worth the money and time.

I prefer not to go into a litany of those who were less than gracious, nor to focus on them. It has nothing to do with having led "a charmed existence." There have been plenty of rough, painful times, and difficult people. It's a matter of getting through and managing or moving on. I tend to focus on the positive and the "greats."

As to Berkeley - it's about $8,000 and sounds like a "crash" course. I'm still checking out information and looking for feedback.

Thanks.

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Teresa in Ventura, California: "I've been a legal secretary for over 10 years and have worked in various secretarial capacities during my career of over 30 years. Whether an admin. assist., executive assistant or 'legal assistant,' - you can take your show on the road and make a decent living and work for great people. Why mention the ones that were not?"

Because they warrant mentioning. Paralegal wannabes should think over that career choice carefully. It's filled with pratfalls for the unwary.

You have apparently led a charmed existence during your legal career. Define "great people."

You have probably collected all the experience, knowledge and skills you need already to be a legal secretary. Don't waste your time and money on paralegal school if you don't want to become one. Good luck.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

80 months ago

Cindy in Saint Louis, Missouri said: Dear Displaced in Denver,

You sound so unhappy and negative or perhaps on the edge of burnout. Try temping...you could have a new adventure every week or so...just a thought.

I know... I've been unhappy in my job too until I didn't have one for 6 months and no place to live, boy oh boy, did my attitude change.

To DLP and Cindy in Sait Louis, MS - Cindy, as you know, we all walk in different shoes.

And to Cindy - I lost a job in 6 months, due to a very intense attorney (I am a paralegal) he turned me into a nervous wreck, and I needed my paycheck - and soon I was homeless living in a motel, till i found a roomate situation. And during that time, I had a breakdown. I had a good attitude when I walked in - I did the best I could with the cirumstances I had. THAT is all I have to say. TY

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

80 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I stand by my comments. Thanks for posting.

It could not have been that bad for Cindy. She lasted 30 years. Snaps for Cindy.
Others are not so fortunate, even with a good attitude.

How did you end up with no job? just curious.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

80 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: "Moreover, in my first firm attorneys reviewed paralegal billings and would cut their time. I spent a week on one project and billed thirty hours on it. The attorney cut EVERY ONE of my damn hours! In effect, I lost an entire week of work even though I was slaving away the entire time. The next week I attended a scheduled mini-review. The shareholder took me to task for not billing any time that week, which was absolutely, positively untrue..

Wow - unbelievable - all 30 hours cut. AND TO BOOT HE reamed you. How could that be except , he said so. Not one task completed in 30 hours was the creation of a document. I know there is a lot of administrative work to do to create a doocument - but - I gather there had to be some billable time - which shareholder said "none". THat was a bad day.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

80 months ago

Cindy in Saint Louis, Missouri said: Dear Displaced in Denver,

You sound so unhappy and negative or perhaps on the edge of burnout. Try temping...you could have a new adventure every week or so...just a thought.

I know... I've been unhappy in my job too until I didn't have one for 6 months and no place to live, boy oh boy, did my attitude change.

What is your true passion? I had difficulty finding mine...good luck!

Cindy - hope you never run into a bad siuation causing job loss again. At least with a better financial situation. no place to live is the worst - when it comes to losing a job.

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Cindy in Saint Louis, Missouri

80 months ago

I was laid off after 14 years in Corporate Law (in-house)...it was September 2001, need I say more?

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michelle Carini in Providence, Rhode Island

79 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: At the very least, you need a two-year degree and a paralegal certificate. An ABA-approved paralegal certificate and a four-year degree are better. Good writing and grammar skills are an absolute must. Strong computer abilities, excellent organization skills and good people skills are essential.

Those qualifications are basic. You also need forged-iron skin, nerves of titanium and magician training. Litigation is extremely stressful and demands many long hours. Based on my nearly seven years of litigation experience, one routinely must pull off miracles and pull rabbits out of hats to be a good litigation paralegal.

Litigation attorneys are among the most difficult people walking the Earth. Among other things, they can be immature, moody, rude, abrupt, acerbic, anal, exceedingly demanding and exceedingly ungrateful.

I would not recommend civil litigation to my worst enemy, primarily because the personalities involved. Consider another speciality if you're hell-bent on becoming a paralegal.

r u serious, i was so excited about being a paralegal and you tell me this?

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

75 months ago

Linda in Saint Louis, Missouri said: Do you know anyone who has attended the Paralegal program at Hickey College in St. Louis? Do they have evening classes?
I've been working as a Legal Secretary for 21 years and would like to move forward as a Paralegal. My position as a Legal Secretary is very very slow and I am capable of so much more.
Thanks.

Hello Linda -

As a 10 year Paralegal, DO not do it. 21 years and it is slow. BE happy - Legal jobs are notorius for burning you out.

I agree with DPL. Seek a position outside of legal.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

75 months ago

Teresa in Ventura, California in Los Angeles, California said: To "Displaced in Colorado" - I'm "grandfathered" in as a paralegal in California, but continue to take courses that are pertinent and useful in my profession and employment. Just make sure it's worth the money and time.

I prefer not to go into a litany of those who were less than gracious, nor to focus on them. It has nothing to do with having led "a charmed existence." There have been plenty of rough, painful times, and difficult people. It's a matter of getting through and managing or moving on. I tend to focus on the positive and the "greats."

As to Berkeley - it's about $8,000 and sounds like a "crash" course. I'm still checking out information and looking for feedback.

Thanks.

Hello - I am a 10 year experienced Paralegal.

If you are grandfathered in - why do you feel the need to 'VALIDATE' yourself with seemingly wanting the title of "PARALEGAL" ?

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driley in Menifee, California

75 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I agree with you, Cindy, but Deborah would be a good person to answer that question. I suspect California paralegals come under state regulations not encountered in other states. Perhaps California awards some kind credential to grandfathered paralegals who obtain added education.

Otherwise, that poster's years of experience and "grandfathering" should obviate any need for a paralegal certificate. Ya think?

Actually, I have no idea about grandfathering in. I was born and raised in California, but spent 18 years in Seattle, then on to Colorado, via a couple year stop over in Arizona. I just moved back to California in April. For many years I wanted the "title" and my office administrator told me she paid me more as a secretary and I was more valuable to her as a secretary. It wasn't until I left Seattle that I took an online course through Washington Online Institute, and got that "piece of paper with my name on it". I used it briefly in Arizona, but then the position was really that of a legal secretary. I was in the Springs in Colorado and couldn't find a job as a legal secretary, so ended up as a Real Estate Assistant. Now that I'm back home, I have been told (by a headhunter) that I have committed career suicide and my resume screams "rebel". As far as those of you wanting to be a paralegal, or even a legal secretary, take everyone's advise, find something more satisfying. I was at a firm for a long time, off and on. When I got burnt out, I would leave for awhile, but I was always able to go back. Attorneys, and the legal staffing companies are even worse, all think that unless you show stability and recent experience in a particular state, then you don't have the brains to do their job. Hello, I worked primarily in federal litigation. Besides that, after 20 years, a person knows where to go and find current local rules and procedures.

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driley in Menifee, California

75 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: I agree with you, Cindy, but Deborah would be a good person to answer that question. I suspect California paralegals come under state regulations not encountered in other states. Perhaps California awards some kind credential to grandfathered paralegals who obtain added education.

Otherwise, that poster's years of experience and "grandfathering" should obviate any need for a paralegal certificate. Ya think?

I agree here, don't waste the money if you are already working as a paralegal. Unless you really feel the need to have that piece of paper, for a job hop or something. Believe me, you will need to job hop.

It goes with this wonderful industry.

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driley in Menifee, California

75 months ago

driley in Menifee, California said: Actually, I have no idea about grandfathering in. I was born and raised in California, but spent 18 years in Seattle, then on to Colorado, via a couple year stop over in Arizona. I just moved back to California in April. For many years I wanted the "title" and my office administrator told me she paid me more as a secretary and I was more valuable to her as a secretary. It wasn't until I left Seattle that I took an online course through Washington Online Institute, and got that "piece of paper with my name on it". I used it briefly in Arizona, but then the position was really that of a legal secretary. I was in the Springs in Colorado and couldn't find a job as a legal secretary, so ended up as a Real Estate Assistant. Now that I'm back home, I have been told (by a headhunter) that I have committed career suicide and my resume screams "rebel". As far as those of you wanting to be a paralegal, or even a legal secretary, take everyone's advise, find something more satisfying. I was at a firm for a long time, off and on. When I got burnt out, I would leave for awhile, but I was always able to go back. Attorneys, and the legal staffing companies are even worse, all think that unless you show stability and recent experience in a particular state, then you don't have the brains to do their job. Hello, I worked primarily in federal litigation. Besides that, after 20 years, a person knows where to go and find current local rules and procedures.

I want to apologize, I'm cranky today - got turned down by a law firm, even though I was told I was exactly what they were looking for, someone else had "more recent" experience. It is so frustrating. Excuse me for not HAVING to work consistently for the past few years, and enjoying life. Now I'm ready to actually go to work so we can really enjoy life, and I'm being punished for my "rebel" lifestyle. Today, I actually am acting like a rebel! :)

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

75 months ago

Here is information about being "grandfathered in" in Califonia. Note, that if you have only a high school diploma, you must have completed the requisite experience by 2003. Holders of Bachelor's degrees can still be "grandfathered in" after 1 year of experience.

(3) A baccalaureate degree or an advanced degree in any subject, a
minimum of one year of law-related experience under the supervision
of an attorney who has been an active member of the State Bar of
California for at least the preceding three years or who has
practiced in the federal courts of this state for at least the
preceding three years, and a written declaration from this attorney
stating that the person is qualified to perform paralegal tasks.
(4) A high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, a
minimum of three years of law-related experience under the
supervision of an attorney who has been an active member of the State
Bar of California for at least the preceding three years or who has
practiced in the federal courts of this state for at least the
preceding three years, and a written declaration from this attorney
stating that the person is qualified to perform paralegal tasks. This
experience and training shall be completed no later than December
31, 2003.

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

75 months ago

The grandfathering in portion of the code applying to persons with a high school diploma was meant to include the numerous "legal secretaries" that had been performing paralegal tasks before there were even paralegal schools, or very few.

The early legal secretaries were somewhat of a combination "Legal Secretary and Law Clerk" and had tremendous responsibility in the law office.

I"ve always figured that was the problem of a lot of these younger attorneys. Their ideas about secretaries date back to stereotypes from the 40s.

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driley in Menifee, California

75 months ago

Thanks Deborah for clarify this. I thought I was being asked - I'm also a Deborah. Didn't have a clue.

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Deborah James in Alameda, California

75 months ago

That was my point, it is supposed to suffice in lieu of a paralegal certificate; however I've found many attorneys to be unaware of the requirement or the attestation form. Given that the form was developed by the State Bar, you'd think that attorneys would be aware of it, but as we both know, a lot of them are notorious for not knowing the law.

I am currently working on a paralegal certificate from LA Mission College. It's an online program which is 1. an accredited school, and 2. a member of the AAFPE (American Association for Paralegal Education).

At some point, I may reopen my Legal Document Business. As I've pointed out before; not only are support staff sick of attorneys, lots of people from the general public are opting to handle their own legal matters because they don't trust/can't stand attorneys.

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Barbara N in New York, New York

75 months ago

driley in Menifee, California said: I want to apologize, I'm cranky today - got turned down by a law firm, even though I was told I was exactly what they were looking for, someone else had "more recent" experience. It is so frustrating. Excuse me for not HAVING to work consistently for the past few years, and enjoying life. Now I'm ready to actually go to work so we can really enjoy life, and I'm being punished for my "rebel" lifestyle. Today, I actually am acting like a rebel! :)

Hi Driley! When were you at WOLI? I was there a while ago, but I don't think I remember your name, so maybe we were in different classes or at different times. I loved WOLI (Washington Online to the uninitiated!) and they were really great at helping me get placed. Perhaps you need to concentrate on a big city (I work in New York City and I love my job!) I am always sad when I read sad stories from fellow and sister paralegals. I hope things pick up for you! Hang in there!

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

75 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:

Otherwise, that poster's years of experience and "grandfathering" should obviate any need for a paralegal certificate. Ya think?

DLP - Ya, I do think so. Concur

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

75 months ago

driley in Menifee, California said: I want to apologize, I'm cranky today - got turned down by a law firm, even though I was told I was exactly what they were looking for, someone else had "more recent" experience. It is so frustrating. Excuse me for not HAVING to work consistently for the past few years, and enjoying life. Now I'm ready to actually go to work so we can really enjoy life, and I'm being punished for my "rebel" lifestyle. Today, I actually am acting like a rebel! :)

REply to post of 18 days ago
driley in CA - I understand the frustation. Been there and back.

driley

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

75 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:

driley in Ca said:

"Attorneys, and the legal staffing companies are even worse, all think that unless you show stability and recent experience in a particular state, then you don't have the brains to do their job. Hello, I worked primarily in federal litigation. Besides that, after 20 years, a person knows where to go and find current local rules and procedures."

Reply to 18 days ago post:

I ran up against the same thing when I moved to FLORIDA. Firms would call me in for the interview and end it with "You do not know Florida Law.

Hum - arn't the attorneys suppose to know the law. A retired atorney who lived in my condo building told me, "THAT is a bunch of hogwash" If you can do civil litigation in Delaware, Philadelphia you can do it here as a Paralegal. I would hire you.

It is true - it is hogwash. COme on now, Complaint still has to be answered in 21 days. in every state, etc.
So you move on to next.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

75 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:

(I can barely type today - bad finger (wasn't that a 1970s rock group? :) ) - sorry)

The name of the band was "Bad Company", a British rock band.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

75 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Actually, there was a British rock band with the name of Badfinger. It probably was best known for its song, "Come And Get It." Badfinger recorded on Apple and had a close relationship with the Beatles.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badfinger

DLP - Never heard of them. BUt "BAD Company" was big.

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LegalSecyRisingHigh in Hacienda Heights, California

64 months ago

dh in Northern CA, California said: I SECOND THAT!! Hello, Displaced Legal. To the Host, please take his advice seriously because he knows what he's talking about!! I have my paralegal certificate from UCLA; I've never used it. Entry level jobs were paying $12-$14/hr at the time, and I was already making $14; so I took a word processing job at $18/hr and moved on to secretarial crap thereafter. I didn't do the proper research before entering the industry and grew to thoroughly hate it very quickly. For me, earning my paralegal certificate was $3k down the drain. I had no coworkers - neither paralegals nor secretaries - who liked their jobs. Litigation is by far the worst; that's where you'll find the most foul-temepered attys. My close friend, a paralegal in Orange County, wrote me recently, "I'd rather burn myself alive than choose this profession all over again." After 5 1/2 years in the field, I could take it no more. I moved to Northern CA where cost of living is cheaper. I'm a full time student and work 20 hrs/week. I'm depleting my entire life savings and accruing massive debt at 40 when I should be saving for retirement so that I can retire at a decent age. With this debt, I'll work until I'm 70. I don't care; I want to live the rest of my life having a job - a career - I enjoy. Besides, paralegal and secretary jobs don't pay enough to prepare a decent retirement anyways. It's nothing but a JOB - Just Over Broke. I suggest you develop a CAREER instead.

Any nonlawyer position is dead-end. There's no room for advancement, and contrary to popular belief, the pay is NOT good. Even if it was good pay, if you hate what you do, the money doesn't matter. Take a look at other threads on this website, especially the secretary threads. My advice is not only should you reconsider litigation but reconsider entering this industry altogether.[/QUOTE

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LegalSecyRisingHigh in Hacienda Heights, California

64 months ago

LegalSecyRisingHigh in Hacienda Heights, California said:

I'm sorry you're experience has been unpleasant. I've been in this field for over 20 years and it has awarded me a great life, education and experience - not to mention excellent salary. My present employer allowed me 3 weeks vacation the first year, not too mention accrual of additional days thereafter, a 35 hour work week excellent benefits, no overtime and opportunities for advancement. Yes.. litigation is demanding and attorneys can be difficult; however, it's part of the job and unless you stand your ground pushovers will attempt to intimidate you. I've worked with the type of attorneys you referenced above and I must concede.. they were the best mentors - it teaches one how to deal with intensity and work well under pressure - I spoke to them and demanded ethics of professionalism and am now working in a level where I never imagined to acquire. I work for the 3rd largest firm in the world earning $80K a year, professional environment - corporate world is great - not to mention great bonuses given by the firm and $5K gift from the attorneys with whom I work (which by the way I save). I work in what you can call "Club Med", with a 35 hour work week and delegate all work to paralegals. Unfortunately, they do get the grunt work. The field of legal secretary is lucrative - I love it. I'm analytical, think like a lawyer, speak a lawyer and am smart like a lawyer and yes..I delegate work just like a lawyer. I do not work under stressful conditions - the firm takes care of its employees. The best part - I'm working on my BA Degree in Pro Bono Legal Administration which has been offered by the great firm where I am employed. I can retire after ten years of employment - I'm on my ninth year. so...your opinion of legal secetari field is inaccurate. If you are professional you will be given opportunities. Good luck.

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dh in Northern CA, California

64 months ago

LegalSecyRisingHigh in Hacienda Heights, California said: I'm sorry you're experience has been unpleasant....

You are a rare breed. Read the posts on these threads. I know from reading here AND from talking with former coworkers, that, not only is my opinion of the legal secretarial field very accurate but also, a great majority of legal secretaries and paralegals share my opinion. Considering over 20 years of experience, I don't think $80K is anything to write home about, especially not if you are working in LA or OC. Granted, considering you are a legal secretary with extra responsibilities, it's good money, but when you step back and look at the big picture of careers in general, it's not. 2 years ago, a popular recruiter in OC was placing legal secretaries with roughly my experience level (7 years had I not left the field) in jobs paying $70K. I don't know what's going on with salaries down there now with the economy the way it is.

I stood my ground. That's why I never worked overtime nor worked thru lunch. I had attys very angry with me for that, and there were times that I felt like I was skating on thin ice. I have plenty of former coworkers who are professional, analytical, and extremely smart yet they know being in this field won't get them very far. There are very few opportunities in the legal field like the one you claim to have. You have that position because you were in the right place at the right time, and luck was on your side. Being smart and analytical isn't enough to make you stand out because there are too many of us out there.

continued...

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dh in Northern CA, California

64 months ago

continued from above:

I'm getting ready to graduate with my BA in Economics and am applying for, among other things, federal jobs all over the country (entry level economist and statistician positions). It takes 4 years for one to advance from the GS-5 payscale to the GS-12 payscale. Right now, that's about $35K to $78K. These numbers are the base pay plus average locality pay. However, LA/OC locality pay is higher (it's calculated according to COL) at roughly $39K to $85K. Keep in mind, this salary advancement takes four years. You said you were in the legal industry how many years?

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

64 months ago

--- My present employer allowed me 3 weeks vacation the first year, not too mention accrual of additional days thereafter, a 35 hour work week excellent benefits, no overtime and opportunities for advancement.

Almost every good firm provides the same. That "vacation" is actually PTO, including vacation and sick.

Yes.. litigation is demanding and attorneys can be difficult; however, it's part of the job and unless you stand your ground pushovers will attempt to intimidate you.

Same in any job, but more with a bully attorney.

I've worked with the type of attorneys you referenced above and I must concede.. they were the best mentors - it teaches one how to deal with intensity and work well under pressure -

Yeah, teaches you how to beat yourself up (saves them the effort).

I spoke to them and demanded ethics of professionalism and am now working in a level where I never imagined to acquire.

You sure are.

I work for the 3rd largest firm in the world earning $80K a year, professional environment - corporate world is great - not to mention great bonuses given by the firm and $5K gift from the attorneys with whom I work (which by the way I save).

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

64 months ago

If you're making $80,000, then you're working in Washington, DC or maybe California. That also includes all your benefits, those bonuses (if you get one) and medical an IRA contributions. WE ALL KNOW THAT.

I work in what you can call "Club Med", with a 35 hour work week and delegate all work to paralegals.

Girl, I can't imagine you deletate all the work to paralegals. If it's not billable to the client, paralegals don't and won't do it. Paralegals have to account for their time, every .01 of it.

I can't imagine you getting $80,000 and you delegate all your work to the paralegals.

I'm analytical, think like a lawyer, speak a lawyer and am smart like a lawyer and yes..I delegate work just like a lawyer. I do not work under stressful conditions

You are a dangerous employee to have. With your thinking you shouldn't be talking to clients or anyone who calls.

The best part - I'm working on my BA Degree in Pro Bono Legal Administration which has been offered by the great firm where I am employed. I can retire after ten years of employment - I'm on my ninth year.

I have worked for two very large law firms. They didn't pay for education for staff. I do know Honigman Miller in Detroit did. And that is very rare.

Um, that BA (or BS) in Pro Bono Administration, what's it going to be good for? I am going to have to look that up.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

64 months ago

Well, I did an engine search (excuse me - intellectual intelligence research) on a BA in Pro Bono Administration.

BA means a Bachelors including taking a foreign language. You're probably taking Spanish. Unless you're taking Greek (which is a really cool language).

I really couldn't find that exact degree ANYWHERE. I did find a College that has BA and BS in Paralegal Studies. And one of those has a speciality of a Pro Bono class. In my paralegal course, I took corporate, real estate and litigation.

Girl, my guess in you're taking a BS or BA degree (four year) somewhere in paralegal studies. You need to broaden your education. If you're already in the program, ARE THE CREDITS TRANSFERRABLE? If not, you may be wasting your time and company's money on a degree that has no value to any employer.

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dh in Northern CA, California

64 months ago

Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida said: If you're making $80,000, then you're working in Washington, DC or maybe California. That also includes all your benefits, those bonuses (if you get one) and medical an IRA contributions. WE ALL KNOW THAT.

I work in what you can call "Club Med", with a 35 hour work week and delegate all work to paralegals.

Girl, I can't imagine you deletate all the work to paralegals. If it's not billable to the client, paralegals don't and won't do it. Paralegals have to account for their time, every .01 of it.

I can't imagine you getting $80,000 and you delegate all your work to the paralegals.

I'm analytical, think like a lawyer, speak a lawyer and am smart like a lawyer and yes..I delegate work just like a lawyer. I do not work under stressful conditions

You are a dangerous employee to have. With your thinking you shouldn't be talking to clients or anyone who calls.

The best part - I'm working on my BA Degree in Pro Bono Legal Administration which has been offered by the great firm where I am employed. I can retire after ten years of employment - I'm on my ninth year.

I have worked for two very large law firms. They didn't pay for education for staff. I do know Honigman Miller in Detroit did. And that is very rare.

Um, that BA (or BS) in Pro Bono Administration, what's it going to be good for? I am going to have to look that up.

Mary-She's in Hacienda Heights, CA. It's in the Southeastern corner of LA County. I have an ex-bf who grew up in a neighboring city. She's probably commuting into either downtown LA or Costa Mesa/Irvine, which is OC.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

64 months ago

There is a paralegal school, The Center for Legal Studies. Maybe she went to this one. Here are some of the books they recommend.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED LEGAL RESOURCES:

WESTLAW legal research access, only $75.
Paralegal Career for Dummies, with CD of Forms, by Scott and Lisa Hatch, $17.50
Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd pocket edition, $35.
Ballentine's Legal Dictionary and Thesaurus, $69

Why would anyone need both a Black's Law Dictionary and a Ballentine's Legal Dictionary. A good school provides Westlaw legal research access FREE. And the Paralegal Career for Dummies.

Wow, I'm glad I didn't go to this program.

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DH in Cali in Lawrenceville, Georgia

64 months ago

good luck finding a job with the govt... i graduated with a 3.6 with a BA in Economics and have yet to land a good job (good thing my apt lease doesn't run out til August 1st) and also the GS-5 to GS-12 is all hypothetical sure you can do it in 4 years but its almost unheard of as my GFs dad works as an economist for the government for 22+ years and is only a GS-12...but anyways good luck

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dh in Northern CA, California

64 months ago

DH in Cali in Lawrenceville, Georgia said: good luck finding a job with the govt... i graduated with a 3.6 with a BA in Economics and have yet to land a good job (good thing my apt lease doesn't run out til August 1st) and also the GS-5 to GS-12 is all hypothetical sure you can do it in 4 years but its almost unheard of as my GFs dad works as an economist for the government for 22+ years and is only a GS-12...but anyways good luck

Thank you for your comment. I have recently become acquainted with a hiring manager for the federal govt. I see him every few weeks; so now I have a few more questions to ask him, based on your comments. I have a book entitled "How to Land a Top Paying Federal Job." It has templates for resumes and gives great advice on how to get your app to stand out from the rest. It is the most useful book I've ever bought.

My friend can't pull strings for me, but he also can advise me on how to stand out from the rest, hopefully. My GPA is 3.4. I have a military background, which helps. And I'm willing to relocate almost anywhere unless its some place crazy like NYC. Some advice he gave me was to apply for any position marked as "hard to fill." I asked him to give me an example; he told me "Anything in Alaska." Well, at the moment, there's no opening for which I'm qualified in Alaska, but I would apply if there was one and accept a decent offer if one was made.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

64 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Why bother with paralegal school if one can get this book?

The book's title is on point. Think about it.

LOL. LOL.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

63 months ago

dh in Northern CA, California said:

My friend can't pull strings for me, but he also can advise me on how to stand out from the rest, hopefully. My GPA is 3.4. I have a military background, which helps. And I'm willing to relocate almost anywhere unless its some place crazy like NYC. Some advice he gave me was to apply for any position marked as "hard to fill." I asked him to give me an example; he told me "Anything in Alaska." Well, at the moment, there's no opening for which I'm qualified in Alaska, but I would apply if there was one and accept a decent offer if one was made.

Congrats to dh in Northern Ca on your 3.4 GPA.

I read a section on how your career began once you received your paralegal certificate. If I hae this correct - you started out at $14/hour jobs,, then $18/jobs (word processing) and eventually got to a hired positon at a firm as a legal secretary at $60k.

Point- lots of people do not start out in the big firms. That happened in the 1980's. Some got lucky and got their first job in a big firms in the high times of 1090's. MOST stated out with low-paying jobs to get experience and then finally got a good paying job.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

63 months ago

kmm in Wilmington, Delaware said: Congrats to dh in Northern Ca on your 3.4 GPA.

Point- lots of people do not start out in the big firms. That happened in the 1980's. Some got lucky and got their first job in a big firms in the high times of 1090's. MOST stated out with low-paying jobs to get experience and then finally got a good paying job.

correction - 1990's. AND some started out working for In-house counsel at a corporation.

And some started in government jobs, city, county, state.

However - with the present economic condition- getting your first job is going to be a lot harder- reason, not enough demand.

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Mark in Los Angeles, California

62 months ago

Host said: What is the best training for becoming a litigation paralegal? What types of ongoing training or certifications are necessary to be an effective litigation paralegal?

What do non-traditional career paths look like?


DON"T DO IT> I got my certification at UCLA last year and all I have to show for it is a student loan payment. Essentially the certification was created by the ABA when attorneys got sued for billing out thier assistants hours. So now you have to be ABA certified so that you are billable.
The paralegal certification is a racket and there is no guarantee that you'll get a job with it.
UCLA teaches, are you ready? NONE Of the software law firms want.
And if you dont' speak spanish in LA>...forget it.

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