Paralegal Career Plan and Marketability? What advice can you give to a potential paralegal?

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

I graduated from a top school with a degree in Economics. I went to law school and was second in class before I developed a mental illness and was unable to complete law school. After a few years of recovery, I'm ready to go back into the work force. What advice can you give me regarding my marketability as a paralegal were I to go into a paralegal program?

Here is a list of pro's I developed in terms of marketability:
1. Graduated from a top school with a strong GPA
2. Was second in class in law school
3. I have many friends who are lawyers, so if in the future any of them branch out on their own I'm sure they would want me on their team.

Here is a list of con's I developed in terms of marketability:
1. Just about everything I have read here.

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: One more thought for you, IsItReallyThatBad. You were studying to become a lawyer until you fell ill. Would you be satisfied working in a subordinate role to lawyers when you know that but for your illness you could have been one yourself?

Just food for thought.

Displaced, for a moderator you are pretty negative when it comes to entering into the paralegal field. Why is that? Thank you for the advice though. I definitely would go into an ABA accredited institution, probably the best in the area. In regards to your question, I've definitely come to terms with my illness. I don't feel resentful at all nor would I feel resentful at all working for lawyers. However, I would be very, very selective regarding the firm for which I intended to work. Were you resentful working for lawyers? Was there a reason you developed such resentment? To be honest, if becoming a paralegal means developing your kind of tone it is discouraging. However, I would like to hear from other paralegals as well.

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

Also, displaced you misinterpreted what I wrote. I was second standing in class, meaning rank not year. Your response is inconsistent though. Would they not care or would I appear overqualified? In regards to my friends, my intention would be to work for a firm to get the training I needed. Then with my training if they did start their own firm, that's when I would team up with them. I've already discussed it with my friends--from high school, college, and law school--they all agreed they would love to work with me. In spite of my illness I'm still well-respected by my colleagues and former colleagues. Also, I'm very reasonable and compliant so I don't expect a power struggle.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

45 months ago

It's hard to find that first paralegal job no matter what your background is. The law school experience doesn't help you with any practical paralegal skills. If I were you I would just apply to paralegal jobs and see if you can get any interviews. There might be some attorney who may give you a shot based on 2 years of law school. You'll have to explain why you quit. But you don't have to overplay the law school experience as it's not *that* impressive for a paralegal job. They want to know what software programs you know, how fast you type, do you know how to electronically file pleadings with the court...practical things.

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mary in Tampa, Florida

45 months ago

If you developed a mental health problem while in law school, you will really have a mental health problem if you work for attorneys. I'm not kidding.

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

Paralegal in Dallas, Texas said: It's hard to find that first paralegal job no matter what your background is. The law school experience doesn't help you with any practical paralegal skills. If I were you I would just apply to paralegal jobs and see if you can get any interviews. There might be some attorney who may give you a shot based on 2 years of law school. You'll have to explain why you quit. But you don't have to overplay the law school experience as it's not *that* impressive for a paralegal job. They want to know what software programs you know, how fast you type, do you know how to electronically file pleadings with the court...practical things.

Thanks for the advice. However, in California all paralegals have to be certified by an ABA approved school. Also, I would hope to learn all the practical aspects of the paralegal profession while in paralegal school. In that regard, law school experience means nothing in California for someone who wishes to enter in as a paralegal. Thanks for the advice! I really appreciate it.

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: If you developed a mental health problem while in law school, you will really have a mental health problem if you work for attorneys. I'm not kidding.

Oh come on, I'm of the opinion many of the more aggressive lawyers do themselves have mental health issues. With that perspective in mind, nothing anyone can throw at me would I take personally.

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

Ugh, just read the thread on Crazy Paralegal/Lawyer exchange. Sorry, I hope I don't come across as that kid does. In that particular case I take the lawyer's side and not the law school kid's side. So having read that, I apologize if I come across as defensive. I just really, really want to get to the bottom of what it means to be a paralegal.

To give you some more bio about myself. I have been working for a CPA firm for these last few years. Although in school they teach mostly theory, anyone familiar with accounting knows it's all procedure in practice. I like the idea of paralegal because I believe it is faster paced and more exciting than working for a CPA firm. To be honest, I probably would work for a non-profit where I would expect to earn less but get more training and positive interaction.

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

Thanks for the reply Displaced. Now, I understand you better. Gosh, this is now a tough decision. The best paralegal program in the area is still just so darn cost-effective. It is about 5,000 for the entire program including books.

Look, let me throw something out there. Could the problem be generational? Meaning, you worked in a time period when emotional ignorance, harassment, and gender abuse were the norm in the work-force? I'm sorry you went through that and God knows if I did become an attorney I would never, ever be that way. However, could the work environment have changed since then?

Reading other threads, what is more troubling is the possible elimination of the paralegal field in the future. However, accounting is facing the same kind of outsourcing at the moment. Even though they say accounting is recession proof, it is not outsource proof with the possible exception of auditing because you have to personally deal with the client. Otherwise, tax programs are getting more sophisticated, bookkeeping is just data-entry at this point.

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

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

A regular Indeed user from the San Francisco area with something like thirty years of experience has posted she had an attorney issue a declaration as provided in Sec. 6450(c) and is thus considered to be paralegal according to California law.

Displaced, that user may be the exception but not the norm. I've already contacted several firms regarding working as a paralegal as well as legal recruiters and they all say the same: we only hire accredited paralegals. One recruiter even indicated the same would apply had I completed all of law school and passed the bar. Also, I've read elsewhere on this forum to be competitive an ABA accredited program is required.

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IsItReallyThatBad in Orange, California

45 months ago

Please, excuse me if I come across as a know-it-all.

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