Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Law School Admissions => Topic started by: chocolatedlux56 on February 28, 2006, 10:39:27 AM

Title: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: chocolatedlux56 on February 28, 2006, 10:39:27 AM
Hello everyone, I don’t know if this is the right forum for this or if anyone knows, but I was wondering if anyone had been or had considered being a paralegal. If anyone was a former paralegal or a current one, why are you now considering law school? My main concern about paralegals is that I don’t want to be a pee-on for some lawyer at a firm and do most of their work while they get all the credit. Any feedback
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: wunder on February 28, 2006, 10:55:55 AM
I am a legal assistant that will be starting law school in the fall.  (Main difference between a legal assistant and a paralegal - at my firm at least - seems to be whether you have a formal paralegal certificate)  Paralegals make half the money that attorneys make if they're lucky and take half the credit but also only have half the responsibility and everything they do has to be supervised by an attorney, which takes the load off your shoulders.  In my position I deal with clients occasionally but spend most of my time doing legal research and writing for the attorneys that they read over before they talk to the client.  I've heard that to get your paralegal certificate you take an easier version of a lot of first-year law school classes, so it's something to consider if you think you'd want to be a paralegal for a while before going to law school.  Although you don't have as much direct responsibility, you can have just as much stress as the attorneys, especially if they don't delegate responsibilities well or just in general aren't good managers.  But, you can certainly have a lot less stress because you are not in the center of the storm, too. 

All that being said, I am counting the days until law school starts.  Working as a legal assistant has made me realize I want to be the one calling the shots, regardless of whether it is more work, more stress, etc.  It just fits my personality better.  But I have certainly learned a lot this way!
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: UFBGD on February 28, 2006, 11:30:26 AM
I agree with wunder.  I too am a legal assistant and find few difference btwn an asst and a paralegal.  I would say the main reason someone in a paralegal position would go to law school is because they know how an office runs from the ground up and why not go get your J.D. and make more money, maybe become an associate if are not interested in owning your own firm/office.  I've learned so much as a legal assistant and am now ready to make the next big step..law school. 
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: lsatflunkie on March 01, 2006, 05:51:00 PM
I've been a paralegal for 14 years.  The difference between a legal assistant and a paralegal really depends upon where you work.  The legal assistants in my office are assistants to both myself and the attorneys.  Legal Assistant is sometimes the same thing as a legal secretary.  Again, it depends upon where you work.  There are legal assistants who know very little about the law, procedure, drafting documents and such- but there are some that know a lot and some paralegals act as secretary's.  In my firm, I have a secretary that I share with the attorneys.  It all depends upon the firm, the paralegal and their knowledge.  I disagree about the idea that there's less responsibility on a paralegal.  In my firm, anything and everything that I do is my responsibility.  The stress is very real and very much mine.  If I have a motion that's due in court tomorrow- I have to make sure it's drafted, signed, and correct before it goes to Court.  My job, my stress, my responsibility.

I am going to law school because I have reached my greatest potential as a paralegal.  I probably reached it quite a few years ago and am bored with not going to court to represent clients.  I"m tired of being in the office.  While I do sometimes attend trials and conferences and even get to negotiate settlements, it's not enough- it's not challenging enough for me.  It gets boring knowing everything about every aspect of what one is ALLOWED to do.  I'm not going for the money, either.  I earn more than most attorney's out of law school 5+ years and I live in New York.  I'm going because I should have gone 10 years ago- but couldn't due to health reasons.  Then I got married, had a child- and here I am.

Good luck to both of you with your applications!!
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: blondelawstudent on March 07, 2006, 09:20:26 AM
As the previous poster stated, there can be a huge difference between "legal assistant" and paralegal". This difference depends on the size of the firm, type of firm, and type of law.

At my firm, the legal assistants are pretty much administrative assistants; they have no "real" legal knowledge and they are there to be utilized mainly for clerical duties.

The paralegals at my firm do a lot more, and have use of the legal assistants for their clerical duties. The paralegals at my firm are also required to have college degrees and a post-bachelor's certificate from a ABA school. Quite frankly, I can't really tell the difference between the lawyers and paralegals (with the obvious exceptions of not being able to obtain and represent clients and set fees).  Our paralegals draft motions and complaints, work as a liason between the lawyer and clients, do legal research and assist in trial and litigation issues. And they are responsible for their work.

2 things to address:

While lawyers do make significantly more- as one of the lawyers here told me "It's a draw"- unless you are not taking out any student loans for law school, you will be in debt for a good portion of your legal career. People tend to forget that and get caught up in the large salaries.

Also, paralegals can be highly paid, and in some cases, more than many attorneys. In the midst of my law school application journey, I was sent careerbuilder.com listing from lawyers about paralegal salaries- and I couldn't believe what some paralegals were making. Well into the upper 70's on up depending on your field (IP and Real Estate paralegals bring in the biggest salaries)

Keep in mind (and again, I reference this from my current job at a law firm) the market is currently flooded with attorneys. Many law firms are looking to cut costs by replacing attorneys with certified paralegals. In California there is pending legislation about licensing paralegals due to their expanding duties.

Ultimately, you have to pursue whatever your dream is. I still plan on pursuing my dream of law school, but if need be, being a paralegal is perfectly acceptable for me in the interim.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Lloyd on July 27, 2007, 04:59:28 AM
I realize this thread is very old now but maybe someone can still help me.  I'm an undergrad approaching my senior year and thinking about becoming either a certified paralegal or a lawyer.  The only thing deterring me from becoming a lawyer is the number of hours they work.  My impression is that attorneys spend an inordinate amount of time working, and I'd rather have a healthy work-life balance.  (I do not want to be one of those people whose work IS their life.)  Do paralegals work significantly less than lawyers?

Also, does anyone have any tips for becoming a paralegal?  What should I look for in a paralegal education?  I'm currently looking at the paralegal diploma offered by NYU, but the curriculum doesn't appear to include an internship.  How important are internships?  Any other tips?

Any and all advice is appreciated.

(EDIT:  I just realized this board was for high school students.  Sorry about that, but I'll leave this post up here anyway.)
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: bamf on July 27, 2007, 06:56:55 AM
I realize this thread is very old now but maybe someone can still help me.  I'm an undergrad approaching my senior year and thinking about becoming either a certified paralegal or a lawyer.  The only thing deterring me from becoming a lawyer is the number of hours they work.  My impression is that attorneys spend an inordinate amount of time working, and I'd rather have a healthy work-life balance.  (I do not want to be one of those people whose work IS their life.)  Do paralegals work significantly less than lawyers?

Also, does anyone have any tips for becoming a paralegal?  What should I look for in a paralegal education?  I'm currently looking at the paralegal diploma offered by NYU, but the curriculum doesn't appear to include an internship.  How important are internships?  Any other tips?

Any and all advice is appreciated.

(EDIT:  I just realized this board was for high school students.  Sorry about that, but I'll leave this post up here anyway.)

you dont need a certificate to be a paralegal, just apply.  Countless firms hire tons of college grads every year.  that being said it sounds like the worst, most mindless job ever.  Go to law school and just don't work for a huge firm if you are concerned with hours.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: I am Penny Lane on October 04, 2007, 08:42:04 AM
I work at a very small firm, I do EVRYTHING the attorney does not. Reallly for me, paralegal and legal assistant are the same thing. The only thing I do not do for him is prepare hs briefs (yet). The hours are not bad at all, occasionally I have to work super late, but it happens so rarely and he is so nice about it that I don't mind.

I really enjoy it, and I feel like I have a good understanding of what a lawyer REALLY does. I am glad I am taking a year off to work here now. If you need a PT job while in undergrad you should try to get a PT job in a law office as a runner or intern.... I think it is worth it.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: «ě» on October 04, 2007, 08:53:58 AM
Paralegal = A job
Lawyer = A career
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: lgllgl2atty on January 11, 2008, 02:13:34 PM
Paralegal = A job
Lawyer = A career

So wrong.  Paralegals often choose their career based upon the availability/proximity of law schools in the area--sometimes, relocation is not an option, and there isn't a school in driving distance.  They also decide that, while they want to work in law, they want to focus on the practice and not the politics of "making" partner or being on the right "track" for promotion.  Sometimes they enjoy working with the law but are not comfortable speaking in public.  They may like performing research and drafting documents, investigating and organizing, and aren't so much about soliciting business or client management.  And there's also that idea that they'd rather jump in and get their feet wet so that they know what they'll be doing, instead of hauling off to three years of graduate school, only to find out that they HATE the legal profession and would rather spend their time developing herbal remedies for homeopathic uses.  To say that being a paralegal is not a career but a job is an ignorant statement by an uninformed person.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Ninja1 on January 12, 2008, 12:11:54 PM
Paralegal = A job
Lawyer = A career

So wrong.  Paralegals often choose their career based upon the availability/proximity of law schools in the area--sometimes, relocation is not an option, and there isn't a school in driving distance.  They also decide that, while they want to work in law, they want to focus on the practice and not the politics of "making" partner or being on the right "track" for promotion.  Sometimes they enjoy working with the law but are not comfortable speaking in public.  They may like performing research and drafting documents, investigating and organizing, and aren't so much about soliciting business or client management.  And there's also that idea that they'd rather jump in and get their feet wet so that they know what they'll be doing, instead of hauling off to three years of graduate school, only to find out that they HATE the legal profession and would rather spend their time developing herbal remedies for homeopathic uses.  To say that being a paralegal is not a career but a job is an ignorant statement by an uninformed person.

I thought it was spot on myself. Granted, I'm not a paralegal, but I know several, and everything about them adds up to say that paralegals are either people in college that are trying to pay their way (the best reason to be a paralegal I think), are not intelligent enough to be attorneys, are college graduates that can't find anything better, or are just generally failures at life. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that there are plenty of exceptions, but that's true everywhere. Even fast food has a couple of amazing people somewhere making burgers that don't know/desire anything better.

As for your reasons why paralegals may choose to be a paralegal over being an attorney, they all sound like excuses to me. Don't like speaking in public? Go be a real estate or contract lawyer. You might have to talk to a judge sometimes, but probably not. Don't want to be concerned with the politics of the office? Don't be. If you're doing good enough work, that should speak for itself. Don't like drumming up business or managing clients? Go into government work, the clients find you, and don't be a paralegal, they often play a part in managing cases. Worried about spending 3 years in law school only to hate law? Well, don't be a paralegal to test drive the beast, it won't be anything like being a lawyer. Only an ignorant paralegal would think that their job is even remotely similar to being a lawyer. Like doing all of the grunt work of law while getting little of the pay and none of the respect? Do we have a "career" for you...
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Poetgirl80 on January 14, 2008, 02:29:08 PM
Paralegal = A job
Lawyer = A career

Worried about spending 3 years in law school only to hate law? Well, don't be a paralegal to test drive the beast, it won't be anything like being a lawyer.


While the job of a paralegal is quite different from that of a lawyer, there is something to be said for spending 1 year and 10K (or less) in a paralegal program to get exposure to Torts, Civil Procedure, Contracts, etc... to determine if that is the sort of material you'd enjoy studying in law school before taking on a 100k debt.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: filet o' fish on January 14, 2008, 02:45:32 PM
Paralegal = A job
Lawyer = A career

So wrong.  Paralegals often choose their career based upon the availability/proximity of law schools in the area--sometimes, relocation is not an option, and there isn't a school in driving distance.  They also decide that, while they want to work in law, they want to focus on the practice and not the politics of "making" partner or being on the right "track" for promotion.  Sometimes they enjoy working with the law but are not comfortable speaking in public.  They may like performing research and drafting documents, investigating and organizing, and aren't so much about soliciting business or client management.  And there's also that idea that they'd rather jump in and get their feet wet so that they know what they'll be doing, instead of hauling off to three years of graduate school, only to find out that they HATE the legal profession and would rather spend their time developing herbal remedies for homeopathic uses.  To say that being a paralegal is not a career but a job is an ignorant statement by an uninformed person.

I thought it was spot on myself. Granted, I'm not a paralegal, but I know several, and everything about them adds up to say that paralegals are either people in college that are trying to pay their way (the best reason to be a paralegal I think), are not intelligent enough to be attorneys, are college graduates that can't find anything better, or are just generally failures at life. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that there are plenty of exceptions, but that's true everywhere. Even fast food has a couple of amazing people somewhere making burgers that don't know/desire anything better.

As for your reasons why paralegals may choose to be a paralegal over being an attorney, they all sound like excuses to me. Don't like speaking in public? Go be a real estate or contract lawyer. You might have to talk to a judge sometimes, but probably not. Don't want to be concerned with the politics of the office? Don't be. If you're doing good enough work, that should speak for itself. Don't like drumming up business or managing clients? Go into government work, the clients find you, and don't be a paralegal, they often play a part in managing cases. Worried about spending 3 years in law school only to hate law? Well, don't be a paralegal to test drive the beast, it won't be anything like being a lawyer. Only an ignorant paralegal would think that their job is even remotely similar to being a lawyer. Like doing all of the grunt work of law while getting little of the pay and none of the respect? Do we have a "career" for you...

This is f-ing stupid.

Honestly, perhaps the stupidest thing I've read on the board. And wrong on just about every point.

Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Freak on January 14, 2008, 04:36:16 PM
Paralegal = A job
Lawyer = A career

So wrong.  Paralegals often choose their career based upon the availability/proximity of law schools in the area--sometimes, relocation is not an option, and there isn't a school in driving distance.  They also decide that, while they want to work in law, they want to focus on the practice and not the politics of "making" partner or being on the right "track" for promotion.  Sometimes they enjoy working with the law but are not comfortable speaking in public.  They may like performing research and drafting documents, investigating and organizing, and aren't so much about soliciting business or client management.  And there's also that idea that they'd rather jump in and get their feet wet so that they know what they'll be doing, instead of hauling off to three years of graduate school, only to find out that they HATE the legal profession and would rather spend their time developing herbal remedies for homeopathic uses.  To say that being a paralegal is not a career but a job is an ignorant statement by an uninformed person.

I thought it was spot on myself. Granted, I'm not a paralegal, but I know several, and everything about them adds up to say that paralegals are either people in college that are trying to pay their way (the best reason to be a paralegal I think), are not intelligent enough to be attorneys, are college graduates that can't find anything better, or are just generally failures at life. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that there are plenty of exceptions, but that's true everywhere. Even fast food has a couple of amazing people somewhere making burgers that don't know/desire anything better.

As for your reasons why paralegals may choose to be a paralegal over being an attorney, they all sound like excuses to me. Don't like speaking in public? Go be a real estate or contract lawyer. You might have to talk to a judge sometimes, but probably not. Don't want to be concerned with the politics of the office? Don't be. If you're doing good enough work, that should speak for itself. Don't like drumming up business or managing clients? Go into government work, the clients find you, and don't be a paralegal, they often play a part in managing cases. Worried about spending 3 years in law school only to hate law? Well, don't be a paralegal to test drive the beast, it won't be anything like being a lawyer. Only an ignorant paralegal would think that their job is even remotely similar to being a lawyer. Like doing all of the grunt work of law while getting little of the pay and none of the respect? Do we have a "career" for you...

Not to feed the troll, but the time, energy & money required to become an attorney vastly exceeds what it takes for a paralegal degree. This alone is a good enough reason not to become an attorney.

Oh and I know all about it, I am an attorney.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: lgllgl2atty on January 15, 2008, 08:18:34 AM
It is amazing to me the amount of arrogance and lack of common sense associated with the last few posts (Freak excepted).  "Careers" are not all about the money always.  You've made sweeping generalizations about a population of people who, currently, likely have much more experience and knowledge of the law than you currently possess.  Good luck in law school.  You'll need it.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Ninja1 on January 17, 2008, 11:06:30 AM
So, we've established that the only reason to be a paralegal over an attorney is that a given person is too lazy to do the work required to be an attorney? That's something to hang your hat on...

And yes, careers are not always about money, but the money sure does help.



This is f-ing stupid.

Honestly, perhaps the stupidest thing I've read on the board. And wrong on just about every point.



Though, you refute none of the points.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Freak on January 17, 2008, 11:34:09 AM
So, we've established that the only reason to be a paralegal over an attorney is that a given person is too lazy to do the work required to be an attorney? That's something to hang your hat on...

And yes, careers are not always about money, but the money sure does help.



This is f-ing stupid.

Honestly, perhaps the stupidest thing I've read on the board. And wrong on just about every point.



Though, you refute none of the points.

In fact, we've established that the cost benefit analysis doesn't always favor attorneys over paralegals.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: hawvaad2008 on January 18, 2008, 04:57:19 PM
Do what you gotta do.  If you've got the balls to hang in there and become a successful attorney, make it happen...the cost-benefit nonsense only applies to people who don't step it up in law school and finish top 30%.  If you think you're capable, then make the leap.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Freak on January 21, 2008, 09:02:12 AM
Do what you gotta do.  If you've got the balls to hang in there and become a successful attorney, make it happen...the cost-benefit nonsense only applies to people who don't step it up in law school and finish top 30%.  If you think you're capable, then make the leap.

Not so much. If you have a family, they will suffer & perhaps even financially if you have insufficient savings. Additionally, if you invest the $100k + the additional money you earn in 3yrs, you could do quite well.

In fact, pursing law purely for money is idiotic - go start a business because if you're smart enough to graduate top 30% you're smart enough to start a successful business.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Thistle on January 21, 2008, 09:29:36 AM
Paralegal = A job
Lawyer = A career

Worried about spending 3 years in law school only to hate law? Well, don't be a paralegal to test drive the beast, it won't be anything like being a lawyer.


While the job of a paralegal is quite different from that of a lawyer, there is something to be said for spending 1 year and 10K (or less) in a paralegal program to get exposure to Torts, Civil Procedure, Contracts, etc... to determine if that is the sort of material you'd enjoy studying in law school before taking on a 100k debt.


lol NOBODY enjoys studying that *&^%
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: vap on January 21, 2008, 09:48:33 AM
Paralegal = A job
Lawyer = A career

So wrong.  Paralegals often choose their career based upon the availability/proximity of law schools in the area--sometimes, relocation is not an option, and there isn't a school in driving distance.  They also decide that, while they want to work in law, they want to focus on the practice and not the politics of "making" partner or being on the right "track" for promotion.  Sometimes they enjoy working with the law but are not comfortable speaking in public.  They may like performing research and drafting documents, investigating and organizing, and aren't so much about soliciting business or client management.  And there's also that idea that they'd rather jump in and get their feet wet so that they know what they'll be doing, instead of hauling off to three years of graduate school, only to find out that they HATE the legal profession and would rather spend their time developing herbal remedies for homeopathic uses.  To say that being a paralegal is not a career but a job is an ignorant statement by an uninformed person.

I thought it was spot on myself. Granted, I'm not a paralegal, but I know several, and everything about them adds up to say that paralegals are either people in college that are trying to pay their way (the best reason to be a paralegal I think), are not intelligent enough to be attorneys, are college graduates that can't find anything better, or are just generally failures at life. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that there are plenty of exceptions, but that's true everywhere. Even fast food has a couple of amazing people somewhere making burgers that don't know/desire anything better.

As for your reasons why paralegals may choose to be a paralegal over being an attorney, they all sound like excuses to me. Don't like speaking in public? Go be a real estate or contract lawyer. You might have to talk to a judge sometimes, but probably not. Don't want to be concerned with the politics of the office? Don't be. If you're doing good enough work, that should speak for itself. Don't like drumming up business or managing clients? Go into government work, the clients find you, and don't be a paralegal, they often play a part in managing cases. Worried about spending 3 years in law school only to hate law? Well, don't be a paralegal to test drive the beast, it won't be anything like being a lawyer. Only an ignorant paralegal would think that their job is even remotely similar to being a lawyer. Like doing all of the grunt work of law while getting little of the pay and none of the respect? Do we have a "career" for you...

That's an ignorant comment.  Plenty of people simply like the work better.  I've worked with quite a few paralegals, and most (especially at large firms) are smart and hard working.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: vap on January 21, 2008, 09:55:19 AM
Do what you gotta do.  If you've got the balls to hang in there and become a successful attorney, make it happen...the cost-benefit nonsense only applies to people who don't step it up in law school and finish top 30%.  If you think you're capable, then make the leap.

1) balls have nothing to do with being a successful attorney and 2) lots of people "step it up" and don't finish in the top 30%. 
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: hawvaad2008 on January 22, 2008, 07:52:25 AM
Do what you gotta do.  If you've got the balls to hang in there and become a successful attorney, make it happen...the cost-benefit nonsense only applies to people who don't step it up in law school and finish top 30%.  If you think you're capable, then make the leap.

Not so much. If you have a family, they will suffer & perhaps even financially if you have insufficient savings. Additionally, if you invest the $100k + the additional money you earn in 3yrs, you could do quite well.

In fact, pursing law purely for money is idiotic - go start a business because if you're smart enough to graduate top 30% you're smart enough to start a successful business.

Where did anyone mention pursuing law purely for money?  I thought this was a query about whether or not it makes sense to pursue being an attorney vs. becoming a paralegal.  Nobody can make this decision for anyone else.  I merely pointed out that debt isn't so much an issue if you can step it up in law school.

This "starting a business" thing was so far out there and aside from anything relevant.  Please focus next time.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Freak on January 22, 2008, 08:29:16 AM
Do what you gotta do.  If you've got the balls to hang in there and become a successful attorney, make it happen...the cost-benefit nonsense only applies to people who don't step it up in law school and finish top 30%.  If you think you're capable, then make the leap.

Not so much. If you have a family, they will suffer & perhaps even financially if you have insufficient savings. Additionally, if you invest the $100k + the additional money you earn in 3yrs, you could do quite well.

In fact, pursing law purely for money is idiotic - go start a business because if you're smart enough to graduate top 30% you're smart enough to start a successful business.

Where did anyone mention pursuing law purely for money?  I thought this was a query about whether or not it makes sense to pursue being an attorney vs. becoming a paralegal.  Nobody can make this decision for anyone else.  I merely pointed out that debt isn't so much an issue if you can step it up in law school.

This "starting a business" thing was so far out there and aside from anything relevant.  Please focus next time.

Consider it a 3rd option, but I digress. The real point, which you missed, is that the debts of  time, money & relationships are very real & should be very much a part of the decision.

"Stepping it up" only works if you successfully translate it to a higher paid position.  I know a law review, straight A student who graduated from NIU, passed the BAR & never found a legal position - it's been 4 years now. What exactly the issue was, I don't know, but I do know that student does not work in a legal position.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: smujd2007 on January 22, 2008, 09:17:45 AM
There are a lot of paralegals that decide that they want to go to law school after all. 

That being said, there are are some law students who hate law school, become paralegals and never sit for the bar (or took it once and didn't pass). 

Paralegal salaries in a good legal market can approach $50,000-70,000/year with experience.  This is very respectable work where it is more about the experience than the education.  I have known some paralegals who definitely could have went to law school, but chose not to.

As for the posting about the person that went to the top law school, got top grades, passed the bar, and was never employed in the legal profession?  That person may not know how to deal with people very well.  A lot of people, some probably on this board, think that if they do well on the academic side, then that will translate to jobs where they can look down on the paralegals and support staff.  You are dead wrong. Firms constantly complain about candidates lacking personality, class, tact, and basic etiquette. The legal profession is as much about these "soft factors" as it is about legal reasoning and know how. 

And, if you have any sense whatsoever, you would never knock any member of your legal support staff, or any legal support staff. These people keep offices from being in total chaos. Even if you are a "supervisor," if you treat your staff badly, it might backfire.  Remember, as a lawyer, you will be responsible for all the work of the people that you supervise as well.  If they make a mistake, and you don't catch it, you can be reprimanded for it. Futhermore, you will have a tremendous support staff turnover, because these people will move to places where they are appreciated. 

At the end of the day, it boils down to a person's preference.  Paralegals and attorneys both make meaningful contributions to the profession.  The best thing to do is talk to people in both positions to get a sense of what the benefits and costs are. 

It is amazing to me the amount of arrogance and lack of common sense associated with the last few posts (Freak excepted).  "Careers" are not all about the money always.  You've made sweeping generalizations about a population of people who, currently, likely have much more experience and knowledge of the law than you currently possess.  Good luck in law school.  You'll need it.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: cui bono? on January 23, 2008, 10:28:55 AM
There are a lot of paralegals that decide that they want to go to law school after all. 

That being said, there are are some law students who hate law school, become paralegals and never sit for the bar (or took it once and didn't pass). 

Paralegal salaries in a good legal market can approach $50,000-70,000/year with experience.  This is very respectable work where it is more about the experience than the education.  I have known some paralegals who definitely could have went to law school, but chose not to.

As for the posting about the person that went to the top law school, got top grades, passed the bar, and was never employed in the legal profession?  That person may not know how to deal with people very well.  A lot of people, some probably on this board, think that if they do well on the academic side, then that will translate to jobs where they can look down on the paralegals and support staff.  You are dead wrong. Firms constantly complain about candidates lacking personality, class, tact, and basic etiquette. The legal profession is as much about these "soft factors" as it is about legal reasoning and know how. 

And, if you have any sense whatsoever, you would never knock any member of your legal support staff, or any legal support staff. These people keep offices from being in total chaos. Even if you are a "supervisor," if you treat your staff badly, it might backfire.  Remember, as a lawyer, you will be responsible for all the work of the people that you supervise as well.  If they make a mistake, and you don't catch it, you can be reprimanded for it. Futhermore, you will have a tremendous support staff turnover, because these people will move to places where they are appreciated. 

At the end of the day, it boils down to a person's preference.  Paralegals and attorneys both make meaningful contributions to the profession.  The best thing to do is talk to people in both positions to get a sense of what the benefits and costs are. 


TITCR
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: carnodel on February 18, 2008, 02:00:14 AM
I realize this thread is very old now but maybe someone can still help me.  I'm an undergrad approaching my senior year and thinking about becoming either a certified paralegal or a lawyer.  The only thing deterring me from becoming a lawyer is the number of hours they work.  My impression is that attorneys spend an inordinate amount of time working, and I'd rather have a healthy work-life balance.  (I do not want to be one of those people whose work IS their life.)  Do paralegals work significantly less than lawyers?

Also, does anyone have any tips for becoming a paralegal?  What should I look for in a paralegal education?  I'm currently looking at the paralegal diploma offered by NYU, but the curriculum doesn't appear to include an internship.  How important are internships?  Any other tips?

Any and all advice is appreciated.

(EDIT:  I just realized this board was for high school students.  Sorry about that, but I'll leave this post up here anyway.)

you dont need a certificate to be a paralegal, just apply.  Countless firms hire tons of college grads every year.  that being said it sounds like the worst, most mindless job ever.  Go to law school and just don't work for a huge firm if you are concerned with hours.

I couldn't agree more.  It really has everything to do with the type of firm you work for and the type of legal work you are going to be doing.  My friend is a paralegal for a law firm that sues inaulation companies for asbestos-related illnesses.  His firm basically does no real work because every company in that industry knows not to take any lawsuits to court because they know they'll lose due to the taboo of the subject.  Basically, all he does it write out the paperwork for settlements and find new potential asbestos victims from lists of workers, contractors, and people that have been exposed or have been likely to have been exposed to asbestos in certain buildings and show signs of illnesses related to exposure.

Basically, it is simple and easy money for the law firm.  They barely do any real tough work.  Every company knows them and basically have trust funds setup for such settlements, which pay a set amount of money to the firm and to the victims.  Money in the bank.  Now, he tells me he likes the people, but he finds the work boring and repetitive but pretty simple to understand and do.  Nothing that technical, but there are days when he is doing a ton of laborious and monotonous work.  Consequently, he is applying to various law schools. He already took the LSAT, but he's not exactly sure if he is going to go because he is deep in debt and has other immediate opportunities. 

That's another thing you need to think about.  With being a paralegal, you only have to go to undergrad.  To become a lawyer, you have to go to law school and spend that extra $100 grand or more and waste a few years of not making any money, which if you already have student loans will set you back even more.  Think about what you want to do and the current position you are in and whether you want to deal with huge debt if that is something you know would be in your future if you went to law school.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: steuby on February 19, 2008, 09:29:56 PM
there's nothing wrong with paralegals.. they are like cheerleaders to a sports team, or a wife to her husband.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Thistle on February 20, 2008, 07:45:19 AM
there's nothing wrong with paralegals.. they are like cheerleaders to a sports team, or a wife to her husband.


 :D :D :D
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: cui bono? on February 21, 2008, 11:10:10 AM
Umm wow   :o

Most attorneys out there believe that paralegals are the unsung heroes of the profession. 
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: lgllgl2atty on March 03, 2008, 03:41:50 PM
There is a lot of misinformation on this thread.  You'll get some helpful information if you ignore the advice of those who tell you that paralegals aren't important.  They don't have a clue because 1) they've never walked in the shoes of a paralegal and 2) because they've never walked in the shoes of an attorney.

The most important factor in choosing a paralegal career is to attend an ABA-accredited program in which to participate.  There are programs for people who already have a bachelor's degree in something and who will obtain a certificate that says they've obtained the skills necessary to perform the needed functions.  If you're interested in a more comprehensive program, there are associates' degrees and bachelors degrees specifically in paralegal studies. 

Keep in mind that the career field has become extremely competitive, and to make the highest earnings and be assigned the highest level of work, you need the education.  Often, I see advertisements for "paralegal" that include answering telephones, etc.  Those employers are looking for receptionists/secretaries, but for the same reasons shared on this thread (there are ignorant people who believe its all the same job), they must appeal to the applicants with the promise of a title that is misleading.  Check out the NFPA website for more information.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: crake04 on September 16, 2008, 07:27:43 PM
I work as a legal assistant in a small (<10 assoc.) patent law firm; the firm is extremely profitable and well-managed.  There is absolutely no room for pettiness; it is the most professional atmosphere I have worked in or even imagined.  There is no backbiting by assistants or attorneys over anything, let alone about titles or who's job is better.  The firm is most profitable when it runs like an oiled machine and there is no room for ego in that machine.  If an associate started abusing the assistants to inflate their ego, they would be making the machine inefficient and they won't make partner and they know it.  The assistants know that if they don't get along with the associates, then it is they who are slowing down the machine and if that happens, they're out too.

A lot of people on this forum seem to think that a "top" law firm is some V50 ranking.  The truth is, a top firm is a profitable firm where the machine is well run and the atmosphere is enjoyable to work in.  At our firm, the attorneys and the assistants talk about science, literature, art--there's no room for talking about who's job is better and bringing it up would be a huge, unimaginable faux pas.  So there it is for you:  if you find yourself in a firm where it is even imaginable to talk about or engage in some of the pettiness expressed in this thread, you don't work in a top firm and you should shop your resume. 
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Ninja1 on September 17, 2008, 04:23:55 PM
I work as a legal assistant in a small (<10 assoc.) patent law firm; the firm is extremely profitable and well-managed.  There is absolutely no room for pettiness; it is the most professional atmosphere I have worked in or even imagined.  There is no backbiting by assistants or attorneys over anything, let alone about titles or who's job is better.  The firm is most profitable when it runs like an oiled machine and there is no room for ego in that machine.  If an associate started abusing the assistants to inflate their ego, they would be making the machine inefficient and they won't make partner and they know it.  The assistants know that if they don't get along with the associates, then it is they who are slowing down the machine and if that happens, they're out too.

A lot of people on this forum seem to think that a "top" law firm is some V50 ranking.  The truth is, a top firm is a profitable firm where the machine is well run and the atmosphere is enjoyable to work in.  At our firm, the attorneys and the assistants talk about science, literature, art--there's no room for talking about who's job is better and bringing it up would be a huge, unimaginable faux pas.  So there it is for you:  if you find yourself in a firm where it is even imaginable to talk about or engage in some of the pettiness expressed in this thread, you don't work in a top firm and you should shop your resume. 

Thanks for digging the grave to find this thread.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: kennedyposter on October 26, 2008, 09:12:50 PM
Hello everyone, I don’t know if this is the right forum for this or if anyone knows, but I was wondering if anyone had been or had considered being a paralegal. If anyone was a former paralegal or a current one, why are you now considering law school? My main concern about paralegals is that I don’t want to be a pee-on for some lawyer at a firm and do most of their work while they get all the credit. Any feedback

difference: at least $50,000
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Ninja1 on October 27, 2008, 12:25:04 AM
Hello everyone, I don’t know if this is the right forum for this or if anyone knows, but I was wondering if anyone had been or had considered being a paralegal. If anyone was a former paralegal or a current one, why are you now considering law school? My main concern about paralegals is that I don’t want to be a pee-on for some lawyer at a firm and do most of their work while they get all the credit. Any feedback

difference: AT LEAST $50,000

Emphasis added. Also, a ton more control.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: GG on October 28, 2008, 08:55:52 AM
I worked as a paralegal for a brief period while I was studying for my bar exam and agree that it really depends on the firm you work for. If you are planning to work as a paralegal for the medium-long term, can I add a positive note. Especially if you work with a large firm and stick to it for a number of years, if you are good at your job, you may get the chance to move into a managerial role and take responsibility for one or more business areas of the firm (and earn significantly more). So all in all a paralegal job is not a dead-end job at all!
Good luck!
Giuseppe
Attorney and author of Soft Skills for Lawyers (www.chelseapublishing.com) :)
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: angiej on October 31, 2008, 11:49:37 AM
I work as a legal assistant in a small (<10 assoc.) patent law firm; the firm is extremely profitable and well-managed.  There is absolutely no room for pettiness; it is the most professional atmosphere I have worked in or even imagined.  There is no backbiting by assistants or attorneys over anything, let alone about titles or who's job is better.  The firm is most profitable when it runs like an oiled machine and there is no room for ego in that machine.  If an associate started abusing the assistants to inflate their ego, they would be making the machine inefficient and they won't make partner and they know it.  The assistants know that if they don't get along with the associates, then it is they who are slowing down the machine and if that happens, they're out too.

A lot of people on this forum seem to think that a "top" law firm is some V50 ranking.  The truth is, a top firm is a profitable firm where the machine is well run and the atmosphere is enjoyable to work in.  At our firm, the attorneys and the assistants talk about science, literature, art--there's no room for talking about who's job is better and bringing it up would be a huge, unimaginable faux pas.  So there it is for you:  if you find yourself in a firm where it is even imaginable to talk about or engage in some of the pettiness expressed in this thread, you don't work in a top firm and you should shop your resume. 

Excellent analysis, I think I will print this off and hand it to one of my attorney boss mans . . . I work for a senior partner who treats me much better than my know it all associate.  The associate is the one that actually makes me feel like a pee-on, which drives my desire for law school that much more.  Not a power thing, but a "you know what I'm just as good as you and I have a love for this too" sort of thing.

I appreciate your analysis and I'm sure you will be an excellent attorney for it.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: LALawyer on January 04, 2009, 10:49:18 AM
Hello.

Many, many years ago I was a legal assistant / paralegal at an extremely prestigious law firm.  At that time I was an undergrad at USC, majoring in business administration and worked part-time.  My work as a paralegal brought in good money, but my recollection of that time was that I considered it just as a way to make some money.  I didn't consider it to be a long term thing, and this is probably because the attorneys unfortunately treated me harshly and disrespectfully.

I also noted that there were few women lawyers, and no minority lawyers.  (I'm an Asian woman).

I felt that having a law degree, would help with giving me added credibility.  A paralegal / legal assistant works just as hard, has tons of stress as a lawyer, but it was clear to me is considered a lesser valued member. 


Law school was expensive, and my relationship suffered.  Law school, if you really put yourself into it, is a lonely experience.

But worth it.

I'm now a type of a judge in Los Angeles hearing juvenile criminal cases.  Prior to becoming a juvenile judge, I represented children in child abuse matters.  I made about $70,000 as an attorney, and now I make about $130,000....this is not very much considered to what first year lawyers make in big firms. It is extremely stressful.

However, I love this job where I feel I can make a difference in some lives.  For me, the opportunity to help people and make a difference was worth the struggles.

Good luck to you.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Paralegal2Atty on January 04, 2009, 12:33:05 PM
Being new to this forum, I was interested to read this thread that was revived. I was a paralegal for 18 years in medium and large firms. I also taught paralegal courses as an adjunct instructor at two local colleges. When I first started out, I was asked in interviews how many words a minute I could type (not many) and did I know shorthand (no! anad some of you may not even know what shorthand is). Those firms needed a secretary and that wasn't me. I never thought of it as "just a job". I've been fortunate to work with great attorneys and learn fundatmentals from them.  Through my career (notice I didn't say "jobs"), I worked in a lot of different areas and gained experience in real estate, worker's compensation, personal injury, complex litigation, RICO actions, fraud cases and employment discrimination. I had all the stress that the attorneys had and put in plenty of overtime. I worked myself into a great niche and with the last firm I worked in, I prepared cases for mediation/arbitration and trial and put together the presenations that were used to present our case. I sat in ADR and trial and worked closely with the attorney and client. There were many times I was in the office or working when the attorney wasn't. So to say that a paralegal inevitably works less hours depends on the kind of work that s/he does. I worked with some who were strict 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and that was it. I was accepted to law school 10 years ago, but it wasn't the right time for me. (My brother was fighting cancer and in that period of time, I had my own severe health problems to deal with). Now is a good time for me and I'm headed to the Class of 2012. And you know what? All the years in my paralegal career have prepared me and will make me a better attorney. Because of the exposure I've gained, I know exactly what area of law I want to practice and what I don't, I know what to expect day-to-day, and I know how to treat a staff.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: cui bono? on January 04, 2009, 12:45:06 PM
Being new to this forum, I was interested to read this thread that was revived. I was a paralegal for 18 years in medium and large firms. I also taught paralegal courses as an adjunct instructor at two local colleges. When I first started out, I was asked in interviews how many words a minute I could type (not many) and did I know shorthand (no! anad some of you may not even know what shorthand is). Those firms needed a secretary and that wasn't me. I never thought of it as "just a job". I've been fortunate to work with great attorneys and learn fundatmentals from them.  Through my career (notice I didn't say "jobs"), I worked in a lot of different areas and gained experience in real estate, worker's compensation, personal injury, complex litigation, RICO actions, fraud cases and employment discrimination. I had all the stress that the attorneys had and put in plenty of overtime. I worked myself into a great niche and with the last firm I worked in, I prepared cases for mediation/arbitration and trial and put together the presenations that were used to present our case. I sat in ADR and trial and worked closely with the attorney and client. There were many times I was in the office or working when the attorney wasn't. So to say that a paralegal inevitably works less hours depends on the kind of work that s/he does. I worked with some who were strict 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and that was it. I was accepted to law school 10 years ago, but it wasn't the right time for me. (My brother was fighting cancer and in that period of time, I had my own severe health problems to deal with). Now is a good time for me and I'm headed to the Class of 2012. And you know what? All the years in my paralegal career have prepared me and will make me a better attorney. Because of the exposure I've gained, I know exactly what area of law I want to practice and what I don't, I know what to expect day-to-day, and I know how to treat a staff.

I say right on!  Particularly the last part- that's soooo vital and so unfortunately rare! 
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Ninja1 on January 08, 2009, 12:47:53 AM
Being new to this forum, I was interested to read this thread that was revived. I was a paralegal for 18 years in medium and large firms. I also taught paralegal courses as an adjunct instructor at two local colleges. When I first started out, I was asked in interviews how many words a minute I could type (not many) and did I know shorthand (no! anad some of you may not even know what shorthand is). Those firms needed a secretary and that wasn't me. I never thought of it as "just a job". I've been fortunate to work with great attorneys and learn fundatmentals from them.  Through my career (notice I didn't say "jobs"), I worked in a lot of different areas and gained experience in real estate, worker's compensation, personal injury, complex litigation, RICO actions, fraud cases and employment discrimination. I had all the stress that the attorneys had and put in plenty of overtime. I worked myself into a great niche and with the last firm I worked in, I prepared cases for mediation/arbitration and trial and put together the presenations that were used to present our case. I sat in ADR and trial and worked closely with the attorney and client. There were many times I was in the office or working when the attorney wasn't. So to say that a paralegal inevitably works less hours depends on the kind of work that s/he does. I worked with some who were strict 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and that was it. I was accepted to law school 10 years ago, but it wasn't the right time for me. (My brother was fighting cancer and in that period of time, I had my own severe health problems to deal with). Now is a good time for me and I'm headed to the Class of 2012. And you know what? All the years in my paralegal career have prepared me and will make me a better attorney. Because of the exposure I've gained, I know exactly what area of law I want to practice and what I don't, I know what to expect day-to-day, and I know how to treat a staff.

Just don't be the douchey ex-paralegal gunner for the first semester. Everyone hates that guy. ;)
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: LALawyer on January 12, 2009, 03:17:02 PM
FYI interesting study ranking paralegal assistants as being a better job than an attorney or a federal judge!

Paralegals Outrank Lawyers on Best Jobs List
Posted Jan 8, 2009, 10:01 am CST   

By Debra Cassens Weiss

Much is made of the fact that federal judges must make substantial financial sacrifices when they leave private law practice.

But the editors of a new best jobs list believe it’s better to be a federal judge, and better still to be a paralegal assistant. Lawyers were ranked 82nd on the list of best jobs by the new job site CareerCast.com. Federal judges were 69th on the list and paralegal assistants 17th, just below meteorologists and medical laboratory technicians.

Lawyers and stockbrokers, ranked 84th, both did poorly, and the reason is stress, the editors say. “Attorneys and stockbrokers may earn considerably more than bookbinders or telephone repair technicians [ranked 83rd and 81st respectively], but these high-powered careers are hurt by anxiety, as both rank among the 20 most stressful jobs on our list.”

The list puts annual income at $109, 207 for lawyers, at $152,027 for federal judges and at $46,155 for paralegals. The figures were derived by combining midlevel income with income growth potential. Besides income and stress, the rankings considered job environment, employment outlook and physical demands, according to a Wall Street Journal story profiling the list’s top job: mathematician.

The top 10 jobs on the list are:

Mathematician
Actuary
Statistician
Biologist
Software engineer
Computer systems analyst
Historian
Sociologist
Industrial designer
Accountant
The worst job on the list is lumberjack.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Ninja1 on January 14, 2009, 01:59:58 AM
FYI interesting study ranking paralegal assistants as being a better job than an attorney or a federal judge!

...

Much is made of the fact that federal judges must make substantial financial sacrifices when they leave private law practice.

But the editors of a new best jobs list believe it’s better to be a federal judge, and better still to be a paralegal assistant.

...

The list puts annual income at $109, 207 for lawyers, at $152,027 for federal judges and at $46,155 for paralegals.


And that's why they're editors of an unheard of internet job site and not anyone that matters. By their logic, being the fry guy at McDonald's in a state that has a high minimum wage is a pretty solid job.

I'll take the extra stress and the six figures, thanks.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: perezr8 on July 02, 2009, 10:47:36 AM
Here is how I would compare them

A lawyer is to a paralegal As a pimp is to a hoe.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: Thistle on July 04, 2009, 10:27:31 AM
Here is how I would compare them

A lawyer is to a paralegal As a pimp is to a hoe.

spoken like a person with no practical experience whatsoever  :P
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: perezr8 on July 04, 2009, 03:31:57 PM
hey its true a paralegal does alot of the work and half of the pay.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: justanothersucker on September 25, 2011, 02:58:14 PM
paralegals do lawyers busy work for them that they want to avoid (think the most anal parts of pretrial skills and LRW) but get paid the same as a manager at JCPenny.

If you have to question it, odds are you are looking for an excuse to copout and in the end you probably will.

If you have any ambition you wouldn't ask such a simple question.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: SoCalLawGuy on September 19, 2012, 01:44:26 AM
Ambition is everything but I think all of you who already worked as paralegals gathered a lot of experience so I wouldn't say all time has been lost. You will surely be better lawyers than your bosses :)
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: 🍟💵🌲🍥 on January 06, 2017, 10:45:08 PM
Here is how I would compare them

A lawyer is to a paralegal As a pimp is to a hoe.

spoken like a person with no practical experience whatsoever  :P
I agreed with you UNTIL I had real world experience........sad really........I am glad you are gone. You are stupid.
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: 🍟💵🌲🍥 on January 12, 2017, 04:18:56 PM
Ambition is everything but I think all of you who already worked as paralegals gathered a lot of experience so I wouldn't say all time has been lost. You will surely be better lawyers than your bosses :)
Not true actually, not even close. Not unless your GOAL is to be lifer document review/clerk (ew)
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: 🍟💵🌲🍥 on January 12, 2017, 04:20:28 PM
FYI interesting study ranking paralegal assistants as being a better job than an attorney or a federal judge!

...

Much is made of the fact that federal judges must make substantial financial sacrifices when they leave private law practice.

But the editors of a new best jobs list believe it’s better to be a federal judge, and better still to be a paralegal assistant.

...

The list puts annual income at $109, 207 for lawyers, at $152,027 for federal judges and at $46,155 for paralegals.


And that's why they're editors of an unheard of internet job site and not anyone that matters. By their logic, being the fry guy at McDonald's in a state that has a high minimum wage is a pretty solid job.

I'll take the extra stress and the six figures, thanks.
Agreed. Let those who cant lead follow. BACK OF THE LINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
Post by: 🍟💵🌲🍥 on January 12, 2017, 04:21:06 PM
Being new to this forum, I was interested to read this thread that was revived. I was a paralegal for 18 years in medium and large firms. I also taught paralegal courses as an adjunct instructor at two local colleges. When I first started out, I was asked in interviews how many words a minute I could type (not many) and did I know shorthand (no! anad some of you may not even know what shorthand is). Those firms needed a secretary and that wasn't me. I never thought of it as "just a job". I've been fortunate to work with great attorneys and learn fundatmentals from them.  Through my career (notice I didn't say "jobs"), I worked in a lot of different areas and gained experience in real estate, worker's compensation, personal injury, complex litigation, RICO actions, fraud cases and employment discrimination. I had all the stress that the attorneys had and put in plenty of overtime. I worked myself into a great niche and with the last firm I worked in, I prepared cases for mediation/arbitration and trial and put together the presenations that were used to present our case. I sat in ADR and trial and worked closely with the attorney and client. There were many times I was in the office or working when the attorney wasn't. So to say that a paralegal inevitably works less hours depends on the kind of work that s/he does. I worked with some who were strict 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and that was it. I was accepted to law school 10 years ago, but it wasn't the right time for me. (My brother was fighting cancer and in that period of time, I had my own severe health problems to deal with). Now is a good time for me and I'm headed to the Class of 2012. And you know what? All the years in my paralegal career have prepared me and will make me a better attorney. Because of the exposure I've gained, I know exactly what area of law I want to practice and what I don't, I know what to expect day-to-day, and I know how to treat a staff.

Just don't be the douchey ex-paralegal gunner for the first semester. Everyone hates that guy. ;)
The ex cops are the worst.........but yes the paralegals are annoying too.