Thanks for the response. I've heard so many varying opinions and just trying to get some more. The paralegal certificate, you can work full time and still get it. Meaning I could work at a law firm (at any position they will offer) while getting the certificate and eventually become a paralegal. Blah blah blah....I was kind of looking for some unique ideas as well. I'm not going to cry myself to sleep if my 'options' seem to all suck.
I have taken what will be 2 yrs off and I have worked as an entry level paralegal at a mid-sized biglaw firm. It's been good for me because I've been exposed to the legal community - and I could not imagine seeing myself anywhere else. I've work on pro-bono cases, I've worked on trials, I've worked on cases that tend to settle, and it's really going to give me a heads up in my career. I already have a feel for the legal community, I know what the dynamics are like. I know what people want to hear and don't want to hear. I know how partners and associates interact in these big firms. I've interacted with clients personally before. I think I'll also put this to good use in law school. I don't think it will make law school any easier, but I do think I will be learning things and I will know at least somewhat how to apply them in the real world, so I am getting a fuller picture than the other kids just out of undergrad. Also, I LIKE my job! I like learning new things about the law, even small. It's been a great fit for me personally. Additionally, I know how the hierarchy in the legal community works, and I know what it's like to be a paralegal, and how valuable they are. I will ALWAYS value any support staff that is working with me.I don't think you should go for any degrees, even a paralegal cert. It's a waste of time and money, and time better spent in the working world, learning real world experience and getting some pre-law school jobs on your resume to talk about to law schools in your application. Some people say don't do the paralegal thing, do something different. For me it was perfect, but I can see how being exposed to something else would be cool too.
I talked to the Managing Attorney at my office today, let him know I was going to law school, etc, and he seemed very interested in having me back my 1L summer (as my sig suggests, I'm not going to go to a school that typically lands 1L SA positions). It seems like entry-level for my firm is 80-100k, which obviously isn't amazing, but I'll be more than happy to take the experience and money. I also really enjoy my job and the pay is as good as anywhere else I could get.I don't believe this would be a real possibility working in a non-law environment.Is networking with attorneys to land SA positions possible at the huge NYC firms, for those of you that are there?
Advice from an old guy - study your ass off for the LSAT and take the year off and enjoy yourself! Go travelling, volunteer doing something you love, etc, etc. Do something out of the ordinary that you've always wanted to do - not only will you thank yourself later in life, but you will also distinguish yourself as an applicant with unique experiences to bring to law school. I can guarantee you by the time you hit 30 that 1 year of paralegal experience or whatever will not amount to a hill of beans relative to your career situation. You're young - have fun! You've got the next 40 years to worry about working