Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Paralegal vs. Lawyer  (Read 72681 times)

lgllgl2atty

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 11
    • View Profile
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #30 on: March 03, 2008, 05:41:50 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.

crake04

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #31 on: September 16, 2008, 09:27:43 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. 

Ninja1

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3089
  • ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #32 on: September 17, 2008, 06:23:55 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.
I'mma stay bumpin' till I bump my head on my tomb.

kennedyposter

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 137
    • View Profile
    • LSN
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #33 on: October 26, 2008, 11:12:50 PM »
Hello everyone, I donít 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 donít 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

Ninja1

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3089
  • ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #34 on: October 27, 2008, 02:25:04 AM »
Hello everyone, I donít 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 donít 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.
I'mma stay bumpin' till I bump my head on my tomb.

GG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #35 on: October 28, 2008, 10:55:52 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) :)

angiej

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 68
    • View Profile
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2008, 01:49:37 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. 

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.

LALawyer

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2009, 12:49:18 PM »
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.

Paralegal2Atty

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #38 on: January 04, 2009, 02:33:05 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.

cui bono?

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 4036
  • blah bliggetty blah
    • View Profile
Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2009, 02:45:06 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! 
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality...  I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word - -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King