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Author Topic: Paralegal vs. Lawyer  (Read 74704 times)

vap

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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2008, 11:48:33 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.

vap

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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2008, 11:55:19 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%. 

hawvaad2008

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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2008, 09:52:25 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.
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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2008, 10:29:16 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.
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smujd2007

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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2008, 11:17:45 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.
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cui bono?

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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2008, 12:28:55 PM »
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. 


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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2008, 04:00:14 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.
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steuby

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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2008, 11:29:56 PM »
there's nothing wrong with paralegals.. they are like cheerleaders to a sports team, or a wife to her husband.

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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2008, 09:45:19 AM »
there's nothing wrong with paralegals.. they are like cheerleaders to a sports team, or a wife to her husband.


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JD

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Re: Paralegal vs. Lawyer
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2008, 01:10:10 PM »
Umm wow   :o

Most attorneys out there believe that paralegals are the unsung heroes of the profession. 
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