Jump to content

Menu

Is anyone here a paralegal? Worked as one?


elegantlion
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have questions about the job. Did you enjoy it? Are there opportunities for paralegals in your area? If so, what kind of pay are they starting at, entry level, no experience. I've seen jobs with experience paying 40k + in our area. That is with a A.S. and work experience, which isn't bad pay in our area.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not a paralegal, but my sister is.

 

She enjoys it very much, especially trial work.   

 

When she first got into it (10 years ago, maybe?  Could be a little less....) her only education was Paralegal school.  She made decent money, enough to support herself and her kids comfortably.  Since then she's earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees, and her salary has nearly doubled.  She also teaches as an adjunct at two of the local colleges a couple of nights a week where she lives, so that brings in even more income.   She now works for the Federal Government in some sort of supervisory capacity, but still loves the trial work the best.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I worked as a legal secretary for 15 years in a variety of offices/practices, from government, to a medium sized private practice, to a high profile criminal defense attorney, to a large firm with 200+ attorneys.  I would NEVER want to be a paralegal.  They had responsibilities similar to attorneys but without the glamour or the pay.  Lots of overtime and pushes before deadlines, endless paperwork, and noting billable hours for almost all of your office time.  They also made LESS money than many of the legal secretaries in the same offices.

 

While many of the paralegals went to school, a good number also transitioned into the job from legal secretary.

 

What I liked about being a legal secretary:  I got to leave at 5:00 every day, and if I didn't, I was paid well for OT.  I didn't have the responsibilities of a paralegal, didn't have to answer to clients in the same way, nor did the attorney depend on me quite as much--less pressure overall.  Even when I worked part time, I was making equal to or more than paralegals in the firm.

 

I had no schooling for my job, starting at entry level and working my way up.  When I quit working 10+ years ago, I was making ~$24 an hour in a medium-large sized city as a floating secretary for a large firm.  My pay was equal (per hour) to the full time secretaries, and I chose my own part time work schedule.  It was a great job.

 

AlmiraGulch's sister's job sounds wonderful though, with different career goals than most paralegals I've known.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not a paralegal, but my sister is.

 

She enjoys it very much, especially trial work.   

 

When she first got into it (10 years ago, maybe?  Could be a little less....) her only education was Paralegal school.  She made decent money, enough to support herself and her kids comfortably.  Since then she's earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees, and her salary has nearly doubled.  She also teaches as an adjunct at two of the local colleges a couple of nights a week where she lives, so that brings in even more income.   She now works for the Federal Government in some sort of supervisory capacity, but still loves the trial work the best.

 

Supporting myself would be the goal, perhaps a way to work and finish a B.A. in something completely different. 

 

You are welcome to PM me. I have a BA in Paralegal Studies and did work as one before staying home, though it has been 12 years now.  :001_smile:

 

I will do that if my head clears enough to think of a specific question. 

 

I worked as a legal secretary for 15 years in a variety of offices/practices, from government, to a medium sized private practice, to a high profile criminal defense attorney, to a large firm with 200+ attorneys.  I would NEVER want to be a paralegal.  They had responsibilities similar to attorneys but without the glamour or the pay.  Lots of overtime and pushes before deadlines, endless paperwork, and noting billable hours for almost all of your office time.  They also made LESS money than many of the legal secretaries in the same offices.

 

While many of the paralegals went to school, a good number also transitioned into the job from legal secretary.

 

What I liked about being a legal secretary:  I got to leave at 5:00 every day, and if I didn't, I was paid well for OT.  I didn't have the responsibilities of a paralegal, didn't have to answer to clients in the same way, nor did the attorney depend on me quite as much--less pressure overall.  Even when I worked part time, I was making equal to or more than paralegals in the firm.

 

I had no schooling for my job, starting at entry level and working my way up.  When I quit working 10+ years ago, I was making ~$24 an hour in a medium-large sized city as a floating secretary for a large firm.  My pay was equal (per hour) to the full time secretaries, and I chose my own part time work schedule.  It was a great job.

 

AlmiraGulch's sister's job sounds wonderful though, with different career goals than most paralegals I've known.

 

Part of the issue is that now even many of the secretary positions require some degree to start, at least around here. I get the hourly vs. salary thing, I worked in insurance underwriting as an hourly employee. I don't think I'd be a good secretary though, I'm more of a minion - if previous jobs are any indication. I'd probably try to find work in a less frenetic office, since I live in the country there are several cities around here - not quite the 200+ office. 

 

I don't know if I would like it, tolerate it, or hate it. I do like details and research though. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started work as a legal secretary in a large law firm and then sort of morphed into half secretary/half paralegal.  Or in other words, the powers that be decided they'd bill clients for some of what I was doing. ;)   In the firm I worked for that wasn't particularly unusual, since there's a fairly big overlap in what a secretary/assistant does and what a paralegal does.  My one piece of advice is that a LOT of how stressful the job is or isn't will depend on the attorneys you work for.  An organized attorney can make for an interesting and enjoyable job.  A disorganized one potentially creates a very stressful work atmosphere.  I guess that's not really different from most jobs, though.  But I often found being sandwiched between a procrastinating attorney  and looming court dates to be extremely stressful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The community college I work for has a paralegal program. If you go that way, make sure that it is ABA certified, as I understand that may make a difference in employment.

 

Some lawyers these days use their paralegals for many of the duties that used to be performed by a legal secretary.  When we call our lawyers office, the receptionist always put me through to her paralegal because she keeps her calendar and knows the status of what is being worked on. When we had to sign documents, it was with the paralegal because our lawyer was in court that day.  Same thing when we were working on a relative's estate.  Almost all of our interactions were with the paralegal.  And yes, they billed for the paralegal's time in most cases, although far less expensive than the lawyer of course.

 

So keep that in mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started work as a legal secretary in a large law firm and then sort of morphed into half secretary/half paralegal.  Or in other words, the powers that be decided they'd bill clients for some of what I was doing. ;)   In the firm I worked for that wasn't particularly unusual, since there's a fairly big overlap in what a secretary/assistant does and what a paralegal does.  My one piece of advice is that a LOT of how stressful the job is or isn't will depend on the attorneys you work for.  An organized attorney can make for an interesting and enjoyable job.  A disorganized one potentially creates a very stressful work atmosphere.  I guess that's not really different from most jobs, though.  But I often found being sandwiched between a procrastinating attorney  and looming court dates to be extremely stressful.

 

Good point, I need organized. I know a few attorneys I wouldn't work for. 

 

The community college I work for has a paralegal program. If you go that way, make sure that it is ABA certified, as I understand that may make a difference in employment.

 

Some lawyers these days use their paralegals for many of the duties that used to be performed by a legal secretary.  When we call our lawyers office, the receptionist always put me through to her paralegal because she keeps her calendar and knows the status of what is being worked on. When we had to sign documents, it was with the paralegal because our lawyer was in court that day.  Same thing when we were working on a relative's estate.  Almost all of our interactions were with the paralegal.  And yes, they billed for the paralegal's time in most cases, although far less expensive than the lawyer of course.

 

So keep that in mind.

 

My school has an ABA certified program. 

 

I worked as a legal secretary before becoming an attorney. As a jr atty, my workload included a lot of paralegal types of work while I was learning the ropes.

 

Depending on how your salary is organized, as a paralegal you can earn more than many attorneys. In fact, probably 20% of the attorneys I see at continuing ed seminars have worked as paralegals. When the big KC firms consolidated, loads of attorneys were laid off and research work was sent overseas. The KC market is niche boutique and a few large firms. The smaller communities in the metro offer more paralegal opportunities.

 

Most paralegals i know earn $60kish....those that earn a per diem type of salary earn more, those with a steady annual salary sometimes earn less, particularly early in their careers.

 

I'm in the KC area, needing to stay here, but I'm outside the city quite a bit. Do paralegals work in other industries outside of law firms? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good point, I need organized. I know a few attorneys I wouldn't work for. 

 

 

My school has an ABA certified program. 

 

 

I'm in the KC area, needing to stay here, but I'm outside the city quite a bit. Do paralegals work in other industries outside of law firms? 

 

Some companies have their own in-house legal departments, which likely includes paralegals.

 

The last time we refinanced we did it through a mortgage broker whose office was a good distance away from us.  All the paperwork was exchanged via Fed Ex, and when it came time to sign off on everything a paralegal (who was also a notary) came to our house and walked us through all the signing of documents, and then she did the necessary notarizing.  She said that was all she did, and she stayed as busy as she wanted to be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know if this is the case in the US, but during the downturn there has been an oversupply of lawyers in the UK, and they have been taking paralegal positions, leaving the paralegals out of work.  I had looked into training as a paralegal and it didn't seem like a good time to be doing it....

 

L

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some companies have their own in-house legal departments, which likely includes paralegals.

 

The last time we refinanced we did it through a mortgage broker whose office was a good distance away from us.  All the paperwork was exchanged via Fed Ex, and when it came time to sign off on everything a paralegal (who was also a notary) came to our house and walked us through all the signing of documents, and then she did the necessary notarizing.  She said that was all she did, and she stayed as busy as she wanted to be.

What a nice way to do a refinance. 

 

I don't know if this is the case in the US, but during the downturn there has been an oversupply of lawyers in the UK, and they have been taking paralegal positions, leaving the paralegals out of work.  I had looked into training as a paralegal and it didn't seem like a good time to be doing it....

 

L

 

I'll be checking into that as well, thank you. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good point, I need organized. I know a few attorneys I wouldn't work for. 

 

 

My school has an ABA certified program. 

 

 

I'm in the KC area, needing to stay here, but I'm outside the city quite a bit. Do paralegals work in other industries outside of law firms? 

 

I have a family member who works in a hospital system. She began part-time doing general clerical work, began working closely with one of the hospital lawyers - the lawyer began training her exactly how she wanted and now she works exclusively for her. (For some reason I think she told me she's a paralegal, I may be confused and she's a legal secretary. She has a BA in some completely unrelated field.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...