Salary vs. Hourly

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Comments (15)

nutrobion in Redford, Michigan

81 months ago

For working paralegals on this forum: Are you currently, or have you ever been, paid an annual salary instead of an hourly wage?
My boss says he'll pay me a salary if I can find out it's not required to pay paralegals by the hour.
Does anyone know if there's a Federal regulation that says paralegals must be paid an hourly rate?

Thanks for your help!

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

81 months ago

I think it's to your benefit to get paid an hourly rate. If you get paid salary, you could end up working 55 hours a week.

I worked a job like that when I first started out - paid $350.00 a week by the time I went, and I worked approximately 50 hours a week. This was back in 1988. You do the math.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

81 months ago

Yes, check with the Dept of Labor. They have addressed paralegals specifically. You should be paid hourly and get overtime pay. There are some exceptions, like if you have some specialized training. It's sortof a muddy issue, so do your own research.

The first law firm where I worked did not and continues to not pay paralegals overtime. The next two firms did and were shocked the first firm didn't.

Paralegals can work some really long hours and you want to get compensated for it. Otherwise you will be taken advantage of real quick.

Whether they pay you hourly or salaried doesn't matter. Both my two firms who paid me OT also talked about my compensation in terms of yearly salary and not hourly. It was really hourly though on my paycheck since we weren't exempt.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

81 months ago

Yes, but even with the 2004 ruling there are still law firms who don't pay paralegals and legal assistants overtime.

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bentonevie in Charlotte, North Carolina

64 months ago

I am thinking of going to paralegal training. Is being a paralegal a crappy job? I can't tell. Do you have tons of responsibility??

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

64 months ago

Carolina, don't believe the hype you'll undoubtedly hear from paralegal schools. I heard the same hype before and during the time I was in my program. I finished that program and then had a very difficult time landing a full-time paralegal job. The industry is even more competitive now. A lot of jobs have gone away via attrition and outsourcing. There are a lot of experienced paralegals out there without jobs. There are also attorneys out there willing to do paralegal work.

I'd look into employment prospects for paralegals in your area before committing to a paralegal program. This board has somewhat of a slant to it, for obvious reasons, but you should definitely heed what's said here and weight it against your own research elsewhere.

Good luck, champ.

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

64 months ago

It's always been difficult to land a Litigation Paralegal job here. Always.

I putzed around for two years doing temp work at about 10 law firms of various sizes after I got my certificate. I was finally able to land my first full-time Paralegal job at that point in another city downstate. I remained there for three years, attempting to land a new job back in Chicago for awhile before coming back for family reasons. I couldn't land anything, but I came back home to Chicago anyway.

Two weeks later, I was lucky to land a temp job. They hired me on full-time about 10 weeks later. I remained there for quite a few years.

So, all told, I've gotten one full-time Paralegal job on my own. I don't want to say over how many years this all played out, but it's in the vicinity of DLP's experience.

The moral of the story is that it's very difficult to land a full-time Paralegal job, at least in this area, whether you have experience or don't have experience. After reading this board and through my own experience, I'm beginning to think it's because the Paralegal market is flooded thanks to the hype that's always been put out there about how it's one of the biggest growth positions out there. That's bunk.

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dfinn2310 in Fayetteville, Georgia

62 months ago

Does anyone know anything about HOW hourly paralegals get paid, specifically in Ga. I am working at this law firm now that ONLY pays me for things that I log, not on a 9-5 basis like you would think. Meaning, I don't get paid if I go to the bathroom, I don't get paid for the time spent looking for a file, and he even shaves the time that it actually took me to complete tasks because he says he won't pay me for my inexperience. I may be in the office for 8 hours and maybe only actually get paid for 5 of those hours some days. I have 3 questions, I guess: 1. Is this typical? 2. If it is, is it typical to log bathroom breaks etc. and 3. What can I say/what should I ask in an interview situation to avoid getting myself in this type of payment situation?

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

62 months ago

I'm no expert on labor, but my take is that situation at the very least is inappropriate, if not unethical or possibly illegal.

You should be paid for the time you're in the office, regardless of whether it gets billed out to the client or not. This attorney is cheating you.

It is common for hours to get cut though. For example, you could bill three hours for a task and then later have it cut to one hour on the bill sent out to the client. You may or may not ever be aware of billing cuts as such.

Regardless, to pay you on what the attorney feels is appropriate on the final bill is at the very least inappropriate, if not more. Sounds like you're in a rather hostile work environment. Sorry. Hope you can resolve it somehow.

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Jane Do Girl in Annandale, Virginia

62 months ago

State and Federal labor laws govern how employers must pay employees. The Dept. of Labor has ruled that paralegals are non-exempt employees, meaning paralegals are paid hourly for a regular work week and over time for hours worked above that. Your employer should be paying you for all hours you are working, whether that work is billable to the client or not. You should research your state's labor laws (call the state DOL or Wage & Hour board) and then present your findings to your employer. He should pay you the unpaid wages he already owes you, plus what you are legally entitled to from that point forward. If he will not pay you what you are legally (not to mention ethically) entitled to, you can file a complaint. Unfortunately, it's attorneys like this who give the rest a bad name. If he's screwing over his employees, he's probably treating his clients and colleagues unethically too.

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

62 months ago

Good posts, as usual, people. Surely, this person is between a rock and a hard place. The person either bites the bullet and continues to get the shaft, or the person speaks up and is likely terminated. If so, there could also be a retaliation claim on top of the wage claim. I hope this person somehow resolves this and is compensated. I'd hate to be in this position. Sort of reminds me of the job offer I had where the attorney asked me if I had a problem billing under an attorney's initials. Ya, right.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

62 months ago

It was common for the secretary to draft things and bill it under the attorney's initials, but I never saw a paralegal do work that billed under the attorney.

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Jane Do Girl in Annandale, Virginia

62 months ago

And if the poster is fired, he/she not only has an unemployment claim, but a possible retaliation claim as well. Employers really don't want to come under DOL scrutiny, especially attorney-employers.

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FLFamLawParalegal in Tampa, Florida

62 months ago

Paralegal in Dallas, Texas said: It was common for the secretary to draft things and bill it under the attorney's initials, but I never saw a paralegal do work that billed under the attorney.

Almost everything I drafted at my old job was billed under the attorney's initials. Motions, settlement agreements, you name it. I drafted it, the attorney revised and edited (or not), and the documents were billed under the attorney's initials at the attorney's rates. That was something that really bothered me after a while, that I was doing all this work but not getting any credit for it from anyone. That's one of the reasons I left.

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FLFamLawParalegal in Tampa, Florida

62 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: No, they don't. But, again, lifetime blackball from law........

Sometimes I wonder whether a lifetime blackball from law would be such a bad thing.

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