4-year degree required. *sigh*

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Unhappy in Dallas, Texas

65 months ago

I see this all day, every day. Paralegal job ads that specifically state that a Bachelor's degree is required. I have 6 years of experience as a litigation paralegal and have been told countless times that I don't qualify for positions due to lack of a 4-year degree.

The kicker is that there are no 4-year paralegal degrees in my area that I'm aware of. There are some pre-law BAs, paralegal ASs and paralegal certificates. So am I essentially being told that a person with a degree in kinesiology stands a better chance of landing a paralegal job than me, despite 6 years of experience in the field? It's absurd, and offensive.

This never used to be the case, so I'm not sure when or where this trend started. When I entered the field as a file clerk I saw few ads with a 4-year educational requirement. Very few. Now it is the norm. Where does that leave the people who began as file clerks and worked their way up through the ranks with dedication and hard work, gaining actual hands-on experience? Why the industry shift?

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

65 months ago

There are so many paralegals looking for work and the paralegal certificate doesn't mean much - or rather it's not really clear what it means. Is it from an ABA approved school? Is the school legit? Is it a mail order paralegal certificate? Is it a fly by night school? A 4 year degree means something fairly consistent.

At my last job paralegals had to have 2 out of the 3 - (1) 4 year degree, (2) any law firm experience job title didn't matter, (3) paralegal cert from anywhere. They ended up with a lot of former file clerks, high school grads, who got a mail order paralegal cert because they could pay them $10/hour. Now those folks can't find jobs in other law firms. They just got lucky with a law firm who was more bottom line oriented than skill and education oriented.

Do you have plaintiff or defense experience? That's another kicker. Defense experience is better than plaintiffs side experience. Some of the clients for the defense firms require the paralegals have bachelors degrees.

I hope you find something soon.

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Unhappy in Dallas, Texas

65 months ago

Paralegal cert. is from UT San Antonio. Experience is defense side.

And again, what exactly DOES a 4-year degree mean to an employer if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the position they're hiring for? It's highly illogical. In my mind, if I was the hiring manager, I'd take the person with 6 years or relevant experience every single time. But apparently I'm stuck in the twilight zone.

It sounds to me like there is a black and white hiring stipulation applied across the board. By firm or company policy they prefer employees with bachelor's degrees at the minimum, and that's about as much thought as they put into it. They didn't consider that a lack of relevant 4-year degrees would leave some candidates for certain positions scratching their heads.

Who here has a 4-year paralegal degree? Who here has a bachelor's degree period?

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

65 months ago

I have one. I have a Bachelors degree from UT-Austin. It's in Journalism.

I also have a paralegal cert from an ABA approved school and graduated top of my class.

I look good on paper so when the law firm sends my resume to the client for approval to work on their cases, the client can be all impressed and say, Sure we will pay your paralegal $125/hour versus, say, $75/hour for a high school grad.

Personally, I don't think a college degree is necessary to be a paralegal. You can be literate, professional, know your place, have a general body of knowledge that helps with cases, without having a degree. It's just hard to convince people of that when they are determing what they think of you from reading your resume.

I wouldn't give up looking. It just may take longer. My friend struggled too - same reason - even though she had 20 years experience, but she finally landed a really good job. She got a judge (an attorney she used to work for) to make an introduction for her and she was hired.

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Foxylee in Rochester, New York

63 months ago

Unhappy in Dallas, Texas said: I see this all day, every day. Paralegal job ads that specifically state that a Bachelor's degree is required. I have 6 years of experience as a litigation paralegal and have been told countless times that I don't qualify for positions due to lack of a 4-year degree.

The kicker is that there are no 4-year paralegal degrees in my area that I'm aware of. There are some pre-law BAs, paralegal ASs and paralegal certificates. So am I essentially being told that a person with a degree in kinesiology stands a better chance of landing a paralegal job than me, despite 6 years of experience in the field? It's absurd, and offensive.

This never used to be the case, so I'm not sure when or where this trend started. When I entered the field as a file clerk I saw few ads with a 4-year educational requirement. Very few. Now it is the norm. Where does that leave the people who began as file clerks and worked their way up through the ranks with dedication and hard work, gaining actual hands-on experience? Why the industry shift?

Why not start by doing the AAS Degree, and figure it out as you go along. You would be surprised that your 7 years experience will commensurate the other 2 years. Good luck.

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Jeff Reisner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

63 months ago

I agree with Foxylee. I earned my BA in college and then began work as a paralegal. I then enrolled in a paralegal school and got hired by a new firm before receiving my A.A.S. I got my degree with honors while on the job, then stayed with that firm for 10 more years. Sometimes, an employer just wants to see that you were diligent and dedicated enough to receive a degree, and then it is your experience that gets you raises and/or a higher paying job. After 12 years in the field, I am now overqualified for many paralegal jobs, but there are still many employers looking for "Senior" paralegals. I was shocked when I was turned down for an interview, since a firm insisted on a minimum of 15 years experience! The bottom line is: more than a certificate, a degree gets you through the door, and perhaps more importantly, gets you respect from the get-go.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

63 months ago

Except in Florida.

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Jane Do Girl in Milton, Florida

63 months ago

A high school diploma used to mean something, but with the general public education system in disarray these days, it's practically worthless. Employers consider a 4 yr. degree to mean that an individual has a certain minimum of English, reading, comprehension, and communication skills, as well as the ability to finish what one has started. It's a minimum bench mark for a reason. I know some attorneys who still have the attitude that as long as a candidate has the basic raw skills, as evidenced by a 4 yr degree, they can teach them all the legal stuff.

There is more of push for 4 yr. paralegal degrees now, due to the growth and influence of the AAfPE and paralegal educators in general. In addition to the basics mentioned above, these programs consist of basic over view courses in various areas of law, so an employee is familiar with terminology, basic civil procedure, basic legal research and writing and requires less time to train. A 4yr. paralegal degree used to make an experienced paralegal more competitive, it's now become a minimum requirement for many firms.... thus the push for advanced credentials like NALA's CLA/CP and ACP certifications and the various graduate paralegal/legal studies programs that are flourishing. While the field isn't absolutely closed to those without 4 yr. degrees, it is becoming more narrowed. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em and get that degree!

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Paralegal in Carrollton, Texas

63 months ago

I can't imagine getting a 4 year degree in paralegal studies. Get the degree in some other field and then get a paralegal certificate.

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Mary in Tampa, Florida

63 months ago

I agree with Carrollton, Texas. Why limit yourself. It goes with the person getting a Bachelor's in Paralegal (for whatever reason) - best to use those extra credits towards something meaningful (education credits).

THE ONLY REASON firm are requiring four-year degrees is because they are too many qualified person applying for too few jobs. The easiest way to "narrow down the pool" is to add more requirements. A Bachelor's Degree is an easy route to go. It also does help to limit "uppidity paralegals with limited education" keep their "head out of the sky". I have worked with more than one "paralegal" who had nothing more than a high school education, and she thought she was totally superior to the secretaries or other staff around her, simply because she had the title "paralegal" and had an office. A Bachelor's Degree tends to keep paralegals more "in balance" with that feeling of superiority.

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Working Paralegal in Austin, Texas

63 months ago

Mary in Tampa, Florida said: I agree with Carrollton, Texas. Why limit yourself. It goes with the person getting a Bachelor's in Paralegal (for whatever reason) - best to use those extra credits towards something meaningful (education credits).

THE ONLY REASON firm are requiring four-year degrees is because they are too many qualified person applying for too few jobs. The easiest way to "narrow down the pool" is to add more requirements. A Bachelor's Degree is an easy route to go. It also does help to limit "uppidity paralegals with limited education" keep their "head out of the sky". I have worked with more than one "paralegal" who had nothing more than a high school education, and she thought she was totally superior to the secretaries or other staff around her, simply because she had the title "paralegal" and had an office. A Bachelor's Degree tends to keep paralegals more "in balance" with that feeling of superiority.

I really don't know what your last sentence means. In my twenty years working as a paralegal I have never been able to connect a "superior" attitude with paralegals who have "limited education." I believe it is more a character/personality flaw, and I have seen it exhibited in very well educated people - especially some attorneys!

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

Working Paralegal in Austin, Texas said: I really don't know what your last sentence means. In my twenty years working as a paralegal I have never been able to connect a "superior" attitude with paralegals who have "limited education." I believe it is more a character/personality flaw, and I have seen it exhibited in very well educated people - especially some attorneys!

THis is my take: Most people feel somewhat "inferior" to those with the 4-year college education. Period.

Some paralegals are uppity by nature- because they have the title "paralegal" (with a 4-yr degree or not). It is a personality trait/flaw of that individual.

AS for me, my degree is from a prestigious private university, Boston University. No paralegal is going to effect my self-esteem, becasue I went to a "prestigious" college- I already know I am ahead of the pack. I do not feel the need to prove my superiority. I am intellegent, bright, and graduated from a "named" college.

I only need to prove to my boss that I am a capable employee.

Frankly- the "uppity" co-workers are just a pain to work with.

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Working Paralegal in Austin Texas in Austin, Texas

62 months ago

I find that yes, there are some "uppity" people in the legal field. But it is not because they have the title "paralegal" - they would be that way if they were in any field. There are "uppity" receptionists, there are "uppity" sales clerks, etc. I guess what I don't like to see is one paralegal vs. another, and deciding that one is "less than" because of education, or someone is "better than" because of education. Aren't we all equal as individuals in the end? And I'm not sure why anyone would need to prove their superiority to anyone. However, I guess some people feel the need to do that, even those such as attorneys.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

Working Paralegal in Austin Texas in Austin, Texas said: I find that yes, there are some "uppity" people in the legal field. But it is not because they have the title "paralegal" - they would be that way if they were in any field. There are "uppity" receptionists, there are "uppity" sales clerks, etc. I guess what I don't like to see is one paralegal vs. another, and deciding that one is "less than" because of education, or someone is "better than" because of education. Aren't we all equal as individuals in the end? And I'm not sure why anyone would need to prove their superiority to anyone. However, I guess some people feel the need to do that, even those such as attorneys.

Because people are people, and everyone has different personalities. Some feel they have to prove their superiority- it is a personality trait or flaw or both.

When we are in the workplace, (1) please the boss, (2) get along with the co-workers. Period.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

62 months ago

"Aren't we all equal as individuals in the end?"

Actually, no. Some are better employees and better paralegals than others because they care more about their work, produce better work product, take the initiative to continue to educate themselves about the profession and the areas of law they are working in, and generally are more resourceful, knowledgeable, and helpful than others.

A college degree, whether from a 'named' university or not, does not guarantee those qualities. There are many who carry degrees who feel that credential alone should prove their worth. It doesn't, it just means one is capable of earning a college degree. Earning a degree and being a good employee/paralegal are 2 different things. No matter the education credential, you still have to prove your worth.

The idea that one is as good as the next just 'because' is what leads us down the path to mediocrity and disintegration.

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

62 months ago

I didn't forget work ethic, I figured that was implied in 'care more about their work' and the rest of what I said. You do like to nit pick if things aren't stated as you think they should be.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida said: "Aren't we all equal as individuals in the end?"

...Earning a degree and being a good employee/paralegal are 2 different things. No matter the education credential, you still have to prove your worth.

The idea that one is as good as the next just 'because' is what leads us down the path to mediocrity and disintegration.

Well Jane - I think that a paralegal who has been on the job for 3 months, and now knows the job well, as in very well, and is not having documents returned by attorney for mistakes, knows what he/she is doing. If you can do the job with no "incompetent" problems coming from the boss, then you have proved yourself to be a good employee, a worthy employee. BUT- that just is not good enough for some attorneys.

And taking more paralegal courses, or being a a participating memeber in a paralegal association, is not going to help you with a boss who is never going to be satisfied - and said boss is just going to pour on the pressure for more, more, more.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

Working Paralegal in Austin Texas in Austin, Texas said: ..... I guess what I don't like to see is one paralegal vs. another, and deciding that one is "less than" because of education, or someone is "better than" because of education. Aren't we all equal as individuals in the end? And I'm not sure why anyone would need to prove their superiority to anyone. However, I guess some people feel the need to do that, even those such as attorneys.

I agree with the paralegal vs paralegal comment. At one small firm I worked, the other paralegal only had a 4 year degree. He had picked up on the job very well. I give him high 5's. However, he would try to give me (4 yr degee +para cert + 8 yrs experience) a hard time whenever he could. I just ignored it for the most part.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

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

My wife was discharged the next day. As she was being discharged, I got sick. I had the same illness several times before and it would pass in a couple of days. I couldn't stay out. I had to work because the attorney was leaving town the next Friday. He liked to finish a month's worth of work in a week and clear his desk before going on vacation. I had planned to work all weekend to keep up.

I was sick but I worked Thursday. Friday morning came and I still was sick. I hauled my sorry sick ass out of bed and into the shower. I passed out twice in the shower. My wife, who still was sick, somehow pulled me out of the shower and called 911. I landed in the hospital. I was there for two and a half days.

I stayed home on Monday and Tuesday. I returned on Wednesday and worked twelve hours straight. On Thursday I worked eighteen hours straight. My day ended at about 11:30 p.m. with me hauling a big box of docs something like fifteen miles to the 24-hour post office. They had to be mailed that day to meet a deadline or else.

I thought the attorney and I worked well together that day (we actually always worked well together). I thought we eradicated the disagreement we had that day. I was wrong.

A coworker told me she would have stayed home. Not to sound sanctimonious, but I was raised with a different work ethic. Ill or not, I would always haul my butt to the office and work if I could. The attorney gratuitously gave me an extra personal day for my efforts. He never called me at the hospital or at home during my illness.

I agree with you, Jane, that one must prove his/her worth, no matter how many college degrees one has collected.

WOW- and then he terminates your employment eventually.

SOme boses - in any field- are just ungrateful as heck for a dependable, reliable employee who get the work done right and does not make waves.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

I RESENT the bosses who treatd me badly, and stressed me out to no end- for no good reason or purpose, other than that they could.

Because- ultimately- all bosses control our futures to a huge extent- as they control the paycheck.

FOr any Paralegal who has had smooth sailing, with only the normal ups and downs of the work world, or a rough week on a deadline- you are the lucky ones. Enjoy.

ANd that does not make you a better paralegal than the rest of us. We were and are good employee(s), with all the word "good" implies.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida said: I didn't forget work ethic, I figured that was implied in 'care more about their work' and the rest of what I said. You do like to nit pick if things aren't stated as you think they should be.

Actually, you come across that your participating membership in the Paralegal Association, and taking your continuing education courses somehow makes you a better paralegal than others.

You are not. You have been fortunate in your jobs.

IF there is no monetary benefit to being involved with paralegal assocation or taking more courses- I sure am not going to do it. I have better things to do with my life than extra-curricular para activties.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida said: I didn't forget work ethic, I figured that was implied in 'care more about their work' and the rest of what I said. You do like to nit pick if things aren't stated as you think they should be.

What- do we have to file a Motion for Clarificaton? Para(s) are trained to be specific. (sarcasm added) (not trying to offend)

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Yeah. Especially some of the ones in uppity firms. Some of those individuals are the ones encountered at paralegal association meetings and/or those who push for paralegal licensing. I didn't go to a "named" college. It doesn't affect my self-esteem. Not in the least. I'm grateful enough that I received a college education. Because the boss is the ultimate judge of one's knowledge, skills and abilities. They are. Indeed (as it were).

Indeed, this is excellent commentary. I concur.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

kmm in Wilmington, Delaware said: I RESENT the bosses who treatd me badly, and stressed me out to no end- for no good reason or purpose, other than that they could.

Because- ultimately- all bosses control our futures to a huge extent- as they control the paycheck.

FOr any Paralegal who has had smooth sailing, with only the normal ups and downs of the work world, or a rough week on a deadline- you are the lucky ones. Enjoy.

ANd that does not make you a better paralegal than the rest of us. We were and are good employee(s), with all the word "good" implies.

oops- yeah I see the typos. I bad.

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kmm in Wilmington, Delaware

62 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: ...two years later.

My wife called that individual on the Sunday morning while I was still in the hospital. She reached him in the office. She said that individual was rude to her. That individual had no right to be rude to her. That individual did not ask how I was feeling. I had been working for that individual for more than five years, so we weren't exactly strangers.

I submit, again, that more lawyers than not are just like that individual. Chances are good one will end up working for such individual(s) - and, no, one cannot simply walk out if one needs the job. Toiling for such lawyers overcomes any so-called positive attitude, love for law and love for paralegal.

ONce someone has experienced working for such outrageously thankless attorneys - and they are out there- your love of law and the specifics of the job itself that you liked so much- will not be enough, and it will be washed away by the never ending waves of stress.

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paralegal123 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania

60 months ago

Two more semesters and I will be receiving my BA in Paralegal studies from a ABA approved college. I am finding it offensive that people do not think that it is required to have this degree to get a job in our field when many employers require it. Most federal jobs demand a BA degree and with a BA degree in this field the doors open up to a wide range of opportunities. Don't always rely on your experience in our economy any longer because employers are looking for people with degrees in there hands!

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Jane Do Girl in Pensacola, Florida

60 months ago

"I am finding it offensive that people do not think that it is required to have this degree to get a job in our field when many employers require it."

The degree teaches a lot of theoretical knowledge, minimal practical knowledge. You'll find once you get your first paralegal job, that your schooling didn't teach you *how* to be a paralegal, *how* to work in law. The complaints you're likely to hear come from veteran paralegals who started as file clerks or secretaries, learned everything hands on and worked their way up. I have immense respect for those paralegals because they did learn things the hard day; they have experience that we can only begin to wish to have.

And, for the record, it is *not* required to have a degree to be a paralegal. California is the only state that has mandatory requirements to work as a paralegal. The only 'requirements' are those self-imposed by individual employers. Many employers do require degrees, but not all, I wouldn't even say most. And I still maintain that the seasoned paralegal with a ton of work experience will win out over the newbie paralegal with a degree. Employers value experience above all else.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

60 months ago

There is nothing I do in my paralegal job that requires having a college degree. I have one, but it serves no use in my job.

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County Research in Stockton, California

59 months ago

A pre law can and usually is the required BA degree needed in the law firm to be a paralegal, but you also need the required certifcate

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As an employer with no college degree in Union City, California

57 months ago

My employees with 4 year degrees are my best employees. They have the comprehension and critical thinking skills I need. They have already proven they can follow direction, and complete a task. I don't care what their degree is in.

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curious in Sacramento, California

57 months ago

As an employer with no college degree in Union City, California said: My employees with 4 year degrees are my best employees. They have the comprehension and critical thinking skills I need. They have already proven they can follow direction, and complete a task. I don't care what their degree is in.

What field are you in? Do you want to reveal where you work?

thankyou

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DLong64941

52 months ago

Its rediculous.Most jobs require degrees for jobs that didn't require a degree years ago. Hiring manager and HR people don't really understand the jobs they are trying to fill so they use a degree as a prerequisite. Lastly, I feel degrees are used to keep people out. The wealthy, who give their children a free ride through college don't want their children to have to compete with applicants without degrees, but have on the job experience.

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Certified Paralegal With No Job in Gainesville, Georgia

45 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: That may be one reason. I think another reason is firms, and especially the big, uppity ones, can bill out degreed paralegals higher. Depends on the individual, but I would agree. Moreover, some individuals who've risen through the ranks resent paralegals with degrees and certificates. I think it goes to entitlement and self esteem. Once more, it depends on the individual.

This issue is really very simple. If firms require a college degree and you want to work at those firms, get a degree. Make sure your college is properly accredited or your degree will be worthless.

I have the degrees, the experience, honors, GPAs, etc. and it doesn't seem to matter anymore.

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Certified Paralegal With No Job in Gainesville, Georgia

45 months ago

kmm in Wilmington, Delaware said: Actually, you come across that your participating membership in the Paralegal Association, and taking your continuing education courses somehow makes you a better paralegal than others.

You are not. You have been fortunate in your jobs.

IF there is no monetary benefit to being involved with paralegal assocation or taking more courses- I sure am not going to do it. I have better things to do with my life than extra-curricular para activties.

This only goes to show that you do not go "above and beyond" what employers ultimately look for in a successful paralegal. Good for you if your okay with that.

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amm in Tampa, Florida

45 months ago

I have been in the legal field for nearly 20 years now and I too have never been asked if I belong to a paralegal association. However, most people list those affiliations on their resumes, so it is possible that perhaps belonging to a local paralegal association might get you an interview as opposed to someone with similar credentials who doesn't belong to one. I believe that getting certifications, while not required by most firms, does show a certain amount of professionalism and ambition.

As for needing a bachelors degree to work as a paralegal -- that is something to be determined by the hiring company. I only have an associates degree in paralegal -- does that mean I am not as good a paralegal as someone with a bachelors degree and a paralegal certificate? I believe that to work as corporate paralegal, needing a bachelors degree in business (or a related field) tends to be the norm. I work in insurance defense. I am a litigation paralegal. I don't need a bachelors degree to do this work. In my very first legal job, prior to obtaining my paralegal degree, I worked for an insurance defense firm. My boss informed me that I summarized depositions and prepared documents better than the paralegals who worked for him previously that had bachelors degrees. Just because you have a 4-year degree doesn't guarantee you will be a better paralegal, but some firms are using it as a way to cut down on resumes received. So, I agree with those above who said if you want to work for the firms that require a bachelors degree, then you need to go back to school and get one.

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buncle19 in Carlsbad, California

45 months ago

Having a college education is important. My college diploma is in the health field coupled with a paralegal credential. I also hold certificates from an Ivy league school, which I have found helped enormously.

Degrees in English, along with certificate programs in effective writing are highly regarded by employers, not only in the legal field, but in other job sectors too.

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Lawyerrita in Springfield, Missouri

42 months ago

I wish you lived in springfield Mo. YOu sound like just what im lookig for.

Unhappy in Dallas, Texas said: Paralegal cert. is from UT San Antonio. Experience is defense side.

And again, what exactly DOES a 4-year degree mean to an employer if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the position they're hiring for? It's highly illogical. In my mind, if I was the hiring manager, I'd take the person with 6 years or relevant experience every single time. But apparently I'm stuck in the twilight zone.

It sounds to me like there is a black and white hiring stipulation applied across the board. By firm or company policy they prefer employees with bachelor's degrees at the minimum, and that's about as much thought as they put into it. They didn't consider that a lack of relevant 4-year degrees would leave some candidates for certain positions scratching their heads.

Who here has a 4-year paralegal degree? Who here has a bachelor's degree period?

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mary in Brandon, Florida

42 months ago

I have excellent/gifted writing skills. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. I have an AA in Paralegal Studies. I worked for two large law firms.

I am now 52. I am doing substitute teaching for $11.00 an hour. (I also have Florida teacher certification).

I'm getting the equipment I need so I can look for freelance court reporting work (after spending two years rebuilding my skills). As far as I can tell, this is my only hope to get out of this hell.

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Tiffany in Minneapolis, Minnesota

42 months ago

Paralegal in Dallas, Texas said: I have one. I have a Bachelors degree from UT-Austin. It's in Journalism.

I also have a paralegal cert from an ABA approved school and graduated top of my class.

I look good on paper so when the law firm sends my resume to the client for approval to work on their cases, the client can be all impressed and say, Sure we will pay your paralegal $125/hour versus, say, $75/hour for a high school grad.

Personally, I don't think a college degree is necessary to be a paralegal. You can be literate, professional, know your place, have a general body of knowledge that helps with cases, without having a degree. It's just hard to convince people of that when they are determing what they think of you from reading your resume.

I wouldn't give up looking. It just may take longer. My friend struggled too - same reason - even though she had 20 years experience, but she finally landed a really good job. She got a judge (an attorney she used to work for) to make an introduction for her and she was hired.

Hi, Paralegal in Dallas! I also hold a BA in Journalism. I'm thinking of obtaining a Paralegal Certificate from a local ABA-approved program. I'm just worried about not being able to find any work after graduating because I lack any legal job experience. Do you have any thoughts on the situation?

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Tiffany in Minneapolis, Minnesota

42 months ago

mary in Brandon, Florida said: I have excellent/gifted writing skills. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. I have an AA in Paralegal Studies. I worked for two large law firms.

I am now 52. I am doing substitute teaching for $11.00 an hour. (I also have Florida teacher certification).

I'm getting the equipment I need so I can look for freelance court reporting work (after spending two years rebuilding my skills). As far as I can tell, this is my only hope to get out of this hell.

Mary, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. So you hold a Bachelor's degree and a paralegal degree, but there are still no jobs for you? Do you think there are more court reporting jobs than paralegal jobs out there? Thank for any info.

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mary in Tampa, Florida

42 months ago

Tiffany in Minneapolis, Minnesota said: Mary, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. So you hold a Bachelor's degree and a paralegal degree, but there are still no jobs for you? Do you think there are more court reporting jobs than paralegal jobs out there? Thank for any info.

I just got my resume together to look for court reporting work.
My situation stemmed from leaving a semi-decent paralegal position in PI and taking a secrety position with a big law firm. Kiss of Death No. 1. Then i was harassed by a new administration and my career destroyed. Kiss of death No. 2. That administrator got FIRED (yes, FIRED) this past April.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

42 months ago

I don't know about this profession anymore. Gone are the days where you have a 4 year degree, go off and get a paralegal certificate, do an internship, graduate paralegal school and find a good paying ($30,000-32,000) entry level paralegal job where your starting title is paralegal in less then a month.

Maybe it *is* happening and I just don't see it anymore or maybe it really is gone.

I wouldn't advise anyone to do it now.

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Paralegal Looking For Work in Los Angeles, California

42 months ago

Paralegal in Dallas, Texas said: I don't know about this profession anymore. Gone are the days where you have a 4 year degree, go off and get a paralegal certificate, do an internship, graduate paralegal school and find a good paying ($30,000-32,000) entry level paralegal job where your starting title is paralegal in less then a month.

Maybe it *is* happening and I just don't see it anymore or maybe it really is gone.

I wouldn't advise anyone to do it now.

I agree. You are better off learning a second language as I have, and/or going to law school, earning an MBA, PHD, or obtaining a certificate from a technical school in nursing, HVAC, IT, or computer science. However, a degree in the sciences coupled with a paralegal certificate/degree may qualify one for a good job in the patent and/or trademark areas. Good luck to all.

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Marie Green in Clifton Park, New York

41 months ago

Paralegal in Dallas, Texas said: I don't know about this profession anymore. Gone are the days where you have a 4 year degree, go off and get a paralegal certificate, do an internship, graduate paralegal school and find a good paying ($30,000-32,000) entry level paralegal job where your starting title is paralegal in less then a month.

Maybe it *is* happening and I just don't see it anymore or maybe it really is gone.

I wouldn't advise anyone to do it now.

I agree. I have over 15 years of legal experience in a variety of practice areas and it doesn't get me too far. The attorneys around here want the secretarial type that can type 90+wpm and a certificate/AAS or worse, a Bachelors. If I am to invest that much in my legal studies, I might as well go through to law school. I would never recommend an Associates in paralegal studies. Instead, learn to type like a bat out of hell.

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kellykr in Haltom City, Texas

33 months ago

I am also going into the paralegal field and if you don't mind the commuting Texas A&M has a 4 year bachleor legal assisstant/paralegal degree along with University of North Texas and i do believe that most of their classes can be taken on line. Hope this helps and good luck.

Unhappy in Dallas, Texas said: I see this all day, every day. Paralegal job ads that specifically state that a Bachelor's degree is required. I have 6 years of experience as a litigation paralegal and have been told countless times that I don't qualify for positions due to lack of a 4-year degree.

The kicker is that there are no 4-year paralegal degrees in my area that I'm aware of. There are some pre-law BAs, paralegal ASs and paralegal certificates. So am I essentially being told that a person with a degree in kinesiology stands a better chance of landing a paralegal job than me, despite 6 years of experience in the field? It's absurd, and offensive.

This never used to be the case, so I'm not sure when or where this trend started. When I entered the field as a file clerk I saw few ads with a 4-year educational requirement. Very few. Now it is the norm. Where does that leave the people who began as file clerks and worked their way up through the ranks with dedication and hard work, gaining actual hands-on experience? Why the industry shift?

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MarieGreen in Clifton Park, New York

33 months ago

I STRONGLY believe that like, real estate sales people, physician assistants, registered nurses, etc., we paralegals need to advocate for state licensing. Anyone can call themselves a paralegal, but you can't call yourself a real estate agent, registered nurse, etc without having a LICENSE. We need a unified set of standards to overcome this irrational act of requiring a degree over and above and AAS in paralegal studies. I have over 15 years of law firm experience with an Associates' degree in paralegal studies from an ABA approved school and am having a difficult time landing a job in a litigation firm. I assume because I don't have a ton of experience in litigation. The sad part is I have acquired a lot of knowledge in my experience in many areas of law including litigation. I really believe an AAS in paralegal studies is relatively useless and a Bachelor's is overkill in conjunction with law office experience. This "profession" needs some serious changes. It greatly offends me when a receptionist tells a client on the phone that she is a paralegal. I studied the LAW not biophysics.

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BG in Carlsbad, California

33 months ago

Having a license is not going to create jobs. What will create jobs is paralegals delivering affordable legal services directly to the public in areas that lawyers don't focus on, since there is no big money to made. That's what paralegals should be advocating.

The difference between real estate people, PAs, and RNs is they are professionals who make their own decisions for the most part. The paralegal field is a vocation supervised by lawyers. There's no reason to add another level of regulation, which is what licensing would do. Plus it would drive up the cost of paralegals., which would result in more layoffs. Paralegals are already billed out at high rates by law firms and once you add licensing, it will increase it exponentially.

I pretty much agree with Marie that the AAS in paralegal studies has no real practical value and the bachelor's is overkill. Experience is what really matters.

Really folks, jobs are going to become increasingly scarce in the legal field with all of the outsourcing and legal software on the market. I would be cautious about investing 50k plus on a a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies. There are thousands of degreed paralegals out of work. There are also millions of people with professional degrees out of work. Having a bachelor's or master's degree isn't going to land you a paralegal job. It's overkill.

Instead of spending 50k plus on a bachelor's, enroll in an associate's degree program at you community college in your target field; supplement it with several certificate programs in complementary fields; all of which will expand your skill sets.

You will attract more employers by doing this. Diversify.

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surfsnowgirl in Fairfield, Connecticut

27 months ago

Same here. I have 13 years of experience, have a paralegal degree, not a certificate (AA) and have actually not gotten certain interviews because they want a bachelors degree. Granted this happens few and far in between and I generally have no problems getting interviews or jobs. However, it can be frustrating and I've often thought about getting a bachelors in basket waving just so I can say I have a bachelors.

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BurntOUT in Humble, Texas

27 months ago

I've been a paralegal for well over 20 yrs. Unfortunately, the school I went to only offered a paralegal diploma. They where applying for accreditation at that time but dropped the entire program 2 yrs after I graduated. I also never finished college, so no degree. I have had a very decent legal career but with this economy the last 3 firms I worked at have closed their doors for business. That was 15 yrs combined with just those 3 firms.

Now I'm back on the market and can't even get an interview. I don't know if my lack of a degree and/or paralegal certificate is to blame or if I'm over qualified with my 22 yrs of litigation experience is too much. Either way, I still have a family to support. I'm so tired of trying to find another paralegal job. I just want a home to stay at. Is that too much to ask for?

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FutureLawyer in North Port, Florida

24 months ago

Unhappy in Dallas, Texas said: I see this all day, every day. Paralegal job ads that specifically state that a Bachelor's degree is required. I have 6 years of experience as a litigation paralegal and have been told countless times that I don't qualify for positions due to lack of a 4-year degree.

The kicker is that there are no 4-year paralegal degrees in my area that I'm aware of. There are some pre- law BAs, paralegal ASs and paralegal certificates. So am I essentially being told that a person with a degree in kinesiology stands a better chance of landing a paralegal job than me, despite 6 years of experience in the field? It's absurd, and offensive.

This never used to be the case, so I'm not sure when or where this trend started. When I entered the field as a file clerk I saw few ads with a 4-year educational requirement. Very few. Now it is the norm. Where does that leave the people who began as file clerks and worked their way up through the ranks with dedication and hard work, gaining actual hands-on experience? Why the industry shift?

Well I am in an equal and opposite boat, except I have a 4 year degree in Legal Studies from a State University (B.S. Degree). But all of the job ads I am seeing are giving preferential treatment to people who have experience of 1 and up to 6 years!!! That pretty much undermines all of the time I spent toiling to get my b.s. degree. I pretty much thought I was guaranteed entry-level work after accomplishing this goal. They are putting people with the experience above people who actually went and dedicated 4 years of college and have a Bachelor's. It doesn't even seem to matter that I studied something somewhat relevant (law). However, the reason I got a b.s. degree was so that I had the "option" to pursue law school if I wanted. Essentially, they would rather have someone with no college degree but who has all the "particular experience" they are looking for. =(

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