Unemployed Paralegal looking for help! I was told the field was suppose to need paralegals and finding that to be untrue.

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Unemployed in Kansas City, Missouri

72 months ago

Hello everyone! I was hoping to seek some help. I entered into college as an undecided major. I started to complete my associates as a general for transfer. I started to get an interest by taking a class as an elective and started to do more research about the paralegal field. According to the articles I read it said the paralegal field was supposed to grow over the next ten years. Even just only two weeks ago I read an article that Paralegal is suppose to be “Great Career Changes for 2011” saying that it would be a quick easy career change for the unemployed because it is suppose to have jobs. I laughed because I have had a paralegal associate’s degree since May 2009 and have been unable to find a job. I graduated with my A.A.S in paralegal studies May 2009, found a job for a small firm August 2009, then three months later was laid off ever since then I have been unable to find a job. Most of the replies I get read something along the line, “while you were highly qualified for this position you were not among the highest qualified and we have chose another candidate”. I had two seasonal jobs I worked while attending college and still at them because that is the only “steady” employment I have. I know the recession is hurting everyone, but there must be some people still doing good since people are still spending money, taking vacations, supporting families, and being hired for the same jobs I am.

I have applied to just about every known website specifically for my local area, plus have applied nationally. I have no issues moving, working hard to move up with the company, but no one will give me a chance to get my foot in the door. Most of the ads I see want people with 5 years minimum experience and I don’t have that or to type 100 WPM and I can’t do that. I have tried looking for typing classes to help, but that has been a slow process. I have tried posting ads for unpaid internships, applying for jobs and even offering my services for unpaid internships and s

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mary in Tampa, Florida

72 months ago

There are very few people who can type 100 words a minute. I was a court reporter. I can take shorthand at 200 wpm. I can't even type 100 wpm. The average speed should be 65. Besides, if an employer wants a riduculous requirement of typing - there is something wrong.

Don't offer yourself for unpaid internships. All that will do is give some employer a free employee.

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Litigation_Paralegal in Tampa, Florida

72 months ago

I don't think I have ever seen a paralegal job that requested a typing speed of 100 wpm. Although, I have seen ads for legal secretaries requesting typing speeds in that range. I personally type 90 to 100 wpm (when transcribing) -- but I was also a legal secretary and word processor for many years. :)

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Unemployed in Kansas City, Missouri

72 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: There are very few people who can type 100 words a minute. I was a court reporter. I can take shorthand at 200 wpm. I can't even type 100 wpm. The average speed should be 65. Besides, if an employer wants a riduculous requirement of typing - there is something wrong.

Don't offer yourself for unpaid internships. All that will do is give some employer a free employee.

Thank You! Now I feel like it isn't just me that can't type that fast. On average here the ads are a minimum of 80-100WPM. I can type about 50WPM and have been working on that to increase it. I just felt like with the internships it would get my foot in the door again. I was required to do an unpaid internship to graduate which opened the networking and gave me a little hands-on experience. I’ll stop offering it though.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

72 months ago

That "need" for paralegals is a myth that's been around for a long time. I graduated paralegal school 12 years ago and we were told the same thing. 11 jobs for each graduate - just look at our job board!! Ha! Then when you are about finished you discover those ads on the paralegal job board are false.

There was a big push by the paralegal associations to legitimize or professionalize the paralegal field - creating tests like the CLA, getting the ABA to make some schools ABA approved, trying to require a bachelors degree, etc, but it didn't work. There was a division with half saying we don't want to professionalize paralegals because it will make them too expensive and take work away from attorneys and the other half saying, Yes we want to professionalize paralegals because we can make big money as associations, as paralegal schools, etc.

But what happened is attorneys realized they could pay $8/hr for a bi-lingual high school graduate to play the role of paralegal and it added more value to their practice.

What also happened is that big company clients decided paralegal work was clerical work and can't be billed.

What also happened (here in Texas) is tort reform eliminated a HUGE chunk of litigation.

And then the recession came and the big company clients said they aren't paying $900/hour for an attorney anymore. There were massive layoffs. Thousands of paralegals became unemployed. Paralegal salaries dropped drastically. There is absolutely no need for an attorney to hire an entry level paralegal. There are cheap smart paralegals with bachelor degrees looking for work.

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buncle19 in Carlsbad, California

72 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Don't forget about the push for state licensing of paralegals. There's no point to it.

I concur that thee is no point to license paralegals. Regulating a profession that isn't allowed to make independent decisions seems ludicrous. All it's going to do is generate income for states (many of which are in dire straits) and force paralegals into accepting an arbitrary licensing standard, so they have to shell out money to work.

I mean, why bother to regulate a workforce that makes just a little more than minimum wage.

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buncle19 in Carlsbad, California

72 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Bad enough that you folks in Cal have to live and comply with laws that set forth who can be a "paralegal." You bet it's ludicrous.

Prior to the regulation of paralegals in California, we had a lot of them offering direct services to the public, many of which had no formal training. The regulation basically forced them to go to school and get a credential. So, now we have educated paralegals doing the same thing they were doing before.

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KathyV in Clinton Township, Michigan

72 months ago

I am going through the SAME DARNED THING as the original poster. I was certified in May 2009 as well. I did an internship through my university in a small corporate legal department, got glowing letters of recommendation from the vice president, head attorney, and paralegal. I got solid grades in all of my coursework and built a large network of friends and classmates in the legal world at all levels. I also have a bachelor's in addition to the certification, so I thought I was golden. I could not have been any more wrong. I sent out resume after resume for every job I saw posted, whether it was in state or not to the point where I fell into a depression and needed to get counseling and medication. I received a job offer in August 2009 for the princely sum of $8.50 per hour. This was at a debt collection firm working for a psychotic female attorney. She would snap her fingers in my face at scream 'look at me when I speak to you!', embarrass and humiliate me in front of the others for the most trivial of mistakes (she didn't think my handwriting was neat enough on a subpoena... but was forcing me to turn out 100 of them a day in addition to my other duties). The straw that broke the camel's back was when she accused me of dressing like a hooker because I was wearing 4 inch high Nine West black leather heels. I was furious and decided I had had enough, no one was going to treat ME like this. I left the state with the measly amount of money I had managed to scrape together, thinking if I left Michigan (#1 state for unemployment at the time) maybe things would get better. I left that fall for New York City, living in a tenement building with three total strangers in a sketchy part of town because that's all I could afford. I went from interview to interview and my only offer I got during my 6 month search was for a real estate startup firm in Midtown Manhattan. That was for 18K no benefits.

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Ladyjenn in Rancho Cordova, California

72 months ago

I'm a Legal Secretary in CA and can't land a job for over a year now too. I have 17 years experience, I guess no one wants to pay me, I'm willing to take a very low salary with the opportunity to pay into a medical benefits plan.

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KathyV in Clinton Township, Michigan

72 months ago

Yeah, DLP, thank you for the words of understanding. I sometimes feel like no one understands. The funny thing about the subpoena was that SHE was the one who had instructed me to use White-Out to change a court time. I was just doing what she had told me to do, then she went postal about it. The other paralegals and office manager would constantly talk about this attorney behind her back- we all thought she was nuts. She would literally sing and scream like a child when she came back from court. And she had this high pitched fake giggle that would just echo through the entire office. I get nightmares just thinking about it. But I think the very worst part of all of this is knowing I was working for $1.10 per hour above minimum wage. I just got back from shopping at the mall... looking at all of the happy faces. It hits home just how miserable I am when I'm out in crowds and everyone looks happier than me. It is very hard to be without a job this time of year. Ironically, the NYC staffing agencies all sent me holiday e-cards. It's like... great... no job but Merry Christmas!

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KathyV in Clinton Township, Michigan

72 months ago

Thanks DLP :)

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Donald_ in Cliffside Park, New Jersey

72 months ago

Unpaid internships at for profit employers are generally illegal. Employers have no business offering them.

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Donald_ in Cliffside Park, New Jersey

72 months ago

unpaid internships are usually illegal.

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Donald_ in Cliffside Park, New Jersey

72 months ago

Also, (sorry for the double posts above), you might be limited in job opportunities since you only have an associates and not a bachelors.

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msgucci in Miramar, Florida

71 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: That's bullshiit. Who taught her how to practice law?? Anyone knows that one does not use whiteout to change documents of any kind. A correcting electric typewriter is an exception. In any event, you just toss it and start all over - easy, of course, with computerized word processing.

No, Kathy, you're not alone at all. So many good nonlawyers suffer because of their overbearing, infantile attorney-bosses. It's too bad, in a way, because some law can be interesting.

Once more, good luck with however you proceed.

She probably got her JD from Kaplan....who knows.

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paralegal100 in warren, Michigan

66 months ago

i graduated with a BA... unable to get a job.. so i did a paralegal certificate shortly thereafter... unlike some of you guys... i was fortunately enough to land a job a few months later ...and it was with a large and reputable law firm in the area..... entry level with a 37+k salary..... been there for over a year now.. I HATE IT.. largely in part due to my atty.. she expects me to find ppl who don't exist.... to be psychic... yells at me for things i have no control over.... scream at me for "mistakes" i did because "there must have been some miscommunication" when she was explaining the task to me... rarely let me contact clients or certain ppl due to the fact that i might say something to compromise her relationship with them... if/when i do she will make sure to ask exactly what i have said...(needlessly to say she has a very high associate/paralegal turnover rate)... not to mention the secretary is so standoffish... she's been there forever... but somehow when i ask her something.... she just suddenly doesn't know anything.. and she would point out my most minute mistake to the atty... (blowing it up of course all the while exhaling and rolling her eyes).. like when i print emails out that doesn't need to go into the file.... like seriously? i'm secretly looking for a way out of there... possibly even out of the paralegal career altogether since i feel i will just be face with this kind of hostile working environment

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

66 months ago

OMG we've worked at the same firm!!! I experienced the same thing on my 3rd paralegal job right down to the long term secretary who plays dumb and the nut job attorney.

I'm about 50-50 when it comes to good paralegal jobs vs bad ones.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

65 months ago

Hi Anthony - I googled you and your practice sounds interesting, but I am pretty happy where I am working now. Thanks for your interest.

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Tiffany, Paralegal lost in KC myself in Independence, Missouri

60 months ago

Your not alone. Typing isn't my problem, and experience isn't either. I granduated William Jewell College and have been at this profession for 10 years. I can't find anything. If I apply for a LAA position with a large firm I've over qualified, mind you they make 3 times what I currently make. Employers and their criteria are often ridiculous.

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Doris @ Solomon Mansure Group in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

60 months ago

South Florida Business Journals indicate
"The Job Market in South Florida is Growing Slowly."
The economy is slowly getting better. We need to stay positive.

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Martyburbank in Fullerton, California

57 months ago

I don't think giving your time away as just free labor makes since, but if you were willing to work for a low wage for a training period with the expectation of full pay after such training that might be worth while. But i would make sure you do other things to make yourself more employable. Volunteer for non profits and legal aid. I know i do work for the Veterans Pro Bono Legal Clinic and we could use some volunteer paralegal work. In my practice I still have difficulty hiring top well qualified paralegals and i pay pretty good salary between $50,000 to $60,000/yr. The thing is I don't have the time or energy to train someone so i only hire experienced paralegals.
Make sure you are a notary public, learn as much as you can about taxes, and bookkeeping, If you can do additional things that helps keep me from hiring an additional bookkeeper for example you are more hire-able. Good luck.

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cleotheleo in Montreal, Quebec

55 months ago

I am somewhere in the french province of Quebec, Canada. I am middle-aged and when in my late 30s figured this would be a great profession for me as well since working in non-profit for many years was being stagnating and boring. I wanted a challenge and figured this would be a great way to boost my employability profile since I also worked for a couple of years in the prison system here. What a bad decision. Our school and online posts everywhere were commenting that the Paralegal field would be booming and a huge demand for paralegals would increase. I graduated a few years ago and since my internship have not landed my career job in the field. It also does not help that the only way to be employed here is if you are mainly french speaking (since most companies now require PERFECT FRENCH). I wish I had seen the comments here, before entering this program. Then i would not owe a years salary for student loans

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jazzyone in Toronto, Ontario

55 months ago

Things are not much better in Ontario. I graduated quite recently and was told not long after that the market is flooded with paralegals. It is really tough to get hired and people tell me that it is almost impossible to get hired as a paralegal right off the bat. Some have said that they started as legal secretaries, receptionists, file clerks and worked their way into a paralegal position.
As an older paralegal, self employment is the only option as few are interested in hiring older workers. I've also noticed a lot of hostility towards new paralegal graduates which make matters even worse.
Just as a suggestion, you may want to consider alternative careers which utilize your paralegal skills such as legal publishing, e-discovery, legal records management, mediation (to name a few).

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cleotheleo in Laval, Quebec

55 months ago

Hey jazzy one I would love to keep in touch with u. It seems u are aware of the market in Ontario and perhaps I may go to Ontario to work in another field. I like yur nick also cute: ) can we keep in touch? Cleo

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Old Paralegal in Longmont, Colorado

52 months ago

I agree that self employment is where us old folks end up. I'm going on 30 years as a litigation paralegal. I worked for the same attorney for 13 years and when he retired and went inactive I couldn't find a job that paid half of what he paid me. I have been doing freelance work now for five years and love it. It's a tough time for this career everywhere. I see new grads not being hired because they have no experience and old ones like me not being hired because even with 30 years experience I have no formal education. It used to be if you knew the business side, the organization side, the legal writing and research side, the theory of a case you could work well with attorneys. Colorado does not require licensing or certification, but most firms that would pay what I made five years ago require at least a BA and a paralegal certificate. It seems like it's tough all over. I wish everyone luck.

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Old Paralegal in Longmont, Colorado

52 months ago

paralegal100 in warren, Michigan said: i graduated with a BA... unable to get a job.. so i did a paralegal certificate shortly thereafter... unlike some of you guys... i was fortunately enough to land a job a few months later ...and it was with a large and reputable law firm in the area..... entry level with a 37+k salary..... been there for over a year now.. I HATE IT.. largely in part due to my atty.. she expects me to find ppl who don't exist.... to be psychic... yells at me for things i have no control over.... scream at me for "mistakes" i did because "there must have been some miscommunication" when she was explaining the task to me... rarely let me contact clients or certain ppl due to the fact that i might say something to compromise her relationship with them... if/when i do she will make sure to ask exactly what i have said...(needlessly to say she has a very high associate /paralegal turnover rate)... not to mention the secretary is so standoffish... she's been there forever... but somehow when i ask her something.... she just suddenly doesn't know anything.. and she would point out my most minute mistake to the atty... (blowing it up of course all the while exhaling and rolling her eyes).. like when i print emails out that doesn't need to go into the file.... like seriously? i'm secretly looking for a way out of there... possibly even out of the paralegal career altogether since i feel i will just be face with this kind of hostile working environment

I actually read an article about paralegal positions highly sought after because they are relatively stress free and they do not have to deal with the public. I laughed. When you work for people who are trained to do nothing but argue, the stress level is through the roof! My way out was to go rogue and work as an independent contractor/freelance/virtual/pick and choose what cases I want to work for when I feel like working for what I deserve to be paid/ paralegal. It's been fabulous.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

52 months ago

Old Paralegal in Longmont, Colorado said: [M]ost firms that would pay what I made five years ago require at least a BA and a paralegal certificate.
Even with experience, a Bachelor's and paralegal certificate firms aren't hiring around here. I have all three.

I like your "people who are trained to do nothing but argue" comment. Especially with litigators. Don't give 'em what they want immediately or try to explain why you can't and you become an adversary.

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Karrie in Chattanooga, Tennessee

50 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: There are very few people who can type 100 words a minute. I was a court reporter. I can take shorthand at 200 wpm. I can't even type 100 wpm. The average speed should be 65. Besides, if an employer wants a riduculous requirement of typing - there is something wrong.

Don't offer yourself for unpaid internships. All that will do is give some employer a free employee.

I type over 100 wpm. Never was a court reporter, but I did write stories for a very long time, which meant I was typing them.

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Don'tbelieveit in Phoenix, Arizona

50 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: There are very few people who can type 100 words a minute. I was a court reporter. I can take shorthand at 200 wpm. I can't even type 100 wpm. The average speed should be 65. Besides, if an employer wants a riduculous requirement of typing - there is something wrong.

Don't offer yourself for unpaid internships. All that will do is give some employer a free employee.

Very good advice. This working for free is so detrimental. People think they will get something for nothing. That an employer will be "impressed" and decide to pay them. That they will get "experience" when they weren't really an employee and hired for pay.

It is creating a monster out there in many professions. I've seen people advise others to "volunteer" in their fields, and that really destroys the concept of having a marketable skill.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

50 months ago

I type over 100 wpm. Never was a court reporter, but I did write stories for a very long time, which meant I was typing them.

On AVERAGE I type at least 90. On heavy duty typing, probably 80. On super easy typing, 100. It's all relevant. It takes time to think, it takes time for colons, hyphens, etc. To say you type over 100 wpm isn't really realistic.

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Bloomington in Bloomington, Illinois

45 months ago

Unemployed in Kansas City, Missouri said: Hello everyone! I was hoping to seek some help. I entered into college as an undecided major. I started to complete my associates as a general for transfer. I started to get an interest by taking a class as an elective and started to do more research about the paralegal field. According to the articles I read it said the paralegal field was supposed to grow over the next ten years. Even just only two weeks ago I read an article that Paralegal is suppose to be “Great Career Changes for 2011” saying that it would be a quick easy career change for the unemployed because it is suppose to have jobs. I laughed because I have had a paralegal associate ’s degree since May 2009 and have been unable to find a job. I graduated with my A.A.S in paralegal studies May 2009, found a job for a small firm August 2009, then three months later was laid off ever since then I have been unable to find a job. Most of the replies I get read something along the line, “while you were highly qualified for this position you were not among the highest qualified and we have chose another candidate”. I had two seasonal jobs I worked while attending college and still at them because that is the only “steady” employment I have. I know the recession is hurting everyone, but there must be some people still doing good since people are still spending money, taking vacations, supporting families, and being hired for the same jobs I am.

I have applied to just about every known website specifically for my local area, plus have applied nationally. I have no issues moving, working hard to move up with the company, but no one will give me a chance to get my foot in the door. Most of the ads I see want people with 5 years minimum experience and I don’t have that or to type 100 WPM and I can’t do that. I have tried looking for typing classes to help, but that has been a slow process. I have tried posting ads for unpaid internships, applying for jobs and even

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Bloomington in Bloomington, Illinois

45 months ago

Thank you for your comments, they were very helpful. I was also told the same thing that paralegals was a growing field. I have been out of collage for a year now and I have not had any luck. Since graduation, I have worked for two insurance companies as a field agent. Upon taking this work I was told how becoming an agent was going to be a successful career and you will earn plenty of money to pay your bills. I have not found this to be true either. In fact you have to run all around the state trying to make sales and in return you are worse off then ever.

I have to ask this question. Why do companies seek you out to sale their products once you have completed school? It would make since to me if I had went to school for business or sale school, but I didn't so why are they wanting to recruit? I might have been the sucker that they have been looking for.

As much as I love paralegal work I think that I am going to have to get into something else. I will take a customer service job if it pays well. I have a large student loan that need to be paid.

Like yourself, I have applied for jobs every where and still no luck.

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

45 months ago

Insurance Companies look for any successful person in ANY FIELD to hire. Why?

Because turnover is very high in the insurance field. There aren't just enough business people to hire, so they look at any and all other fields. And since they have a training program anyone really can become an agent.

Customer service gigs don't pay well.

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Bloomington in Bloomington, Illinois

45 months ago

Thanks Joe for your answer. So, you believe that customer service is not way to go if you want to earn a better living. Do you have any suggestion that you can give me?

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

45 months ago

I don't have the answers my friend. Is this a 4 yr degree you have.

Also, what company do you work for? Aflac always calls me.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

45 months ago

Bloomington in Bloomington, Illinois said: I was also told the same thing that paralegals was a growing field. I have been out of collage for a year now and I have not had any luck.
I don't want to say "don't feel bad" because I know you do. Just so you know, I was told the same thing when I started paralegal school nineteen years ago. I eventually was hired, but it was far tougher than portrayed. Also, so you know, it's tough to be hired even for experienced paralegals like me.
Bloomington in Bloomington, Illinois said: Since graduation, I have worked for two insurance companies as a field agent. Upon taking this work I was told how becoming an agent was going to be a successful career and you will earn plenty of money to pay your bills. I have not found this to be true either.
I got a ton of e-mail off my paralegal job board resumes trying to sell me on selling insurance. I still get e-mail from them, even though my resumes are as old as the hills and I've repeatedly told these recruiters I'm not interested.

IMO insurance companies are interested in paralegals because consider them professional people. Never mind that many of them, I'm sure, have never sold anything in their lives. I've argued back at insurance recruiters that I am not qualified to peddle insurance. Despite me not having sales experience, along with not having insurance sales or broker licenses, they insist my paralegal experience qualifies me.

I've heard repeatedly from Farmers, Bankers Life and various Torchmark companies. I've written Farmers that its repeated recruitment e-mails cheapens its brand; one agent agreed. The white duck has e-mailed me a few times.

You may find this blog about Farmers' agent recruiting to be of interest: www.brainhandles.com/success/job-hunting/job-spam-farmers-insurance

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Bloomington in Bloomington, Illinois

45 months ago

I have a four year degree. I have heard from plenty of insurance companies but they want someone to sale insurance. I am not that person. Thanks for the support.

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beginagainla in Los Angeles, California

44 months ago

Always do a keyword search for the "career" you're interested in pursuing. If you find less than a handful of positions hiring, think twice before investing time and thousands of dollars.

I worked for three large firms in the late 90s until about 2003. Even back then, attorneys preferred to delegate paralegal type work to law clerks or a sharp FEMALE legal secretary/legal assistant.

A paralegal in L.A. has as much chance of finding a job as a camera repair person.

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NCRC in Stockton, California

41 months ago

I almost agree with most on here. I have a BS in computer science a BA in Pre Law and a Certificate from the same university as a paralegal. The first thing FIRST! There are two different types paralegals here, one is the secretary typist type which I personally have five that work for me, and the paralegal type which I am, the Analyst/Manager/Policy maker. If you bring in a skill set as only a typist secretary well that is all your ever going to need. Now-a-day companies (firms) need analyst, researchers, logic people which can conceptualize the market which is covered and help move the company by your work product. I can promise you, I type like a third grader! But my logic and ability to analyze a situation and come to a succinct solution makes my clients a ton of money. Also, I am a top rank legal researcher, and that is what is the most important thing. So, in sum you must be educated and experienced to have the worth you want and need. and finally gain the ability to think outside the box, offer your employer or perspective employer something your competition doesn't!

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