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Author Topic: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?  (Read 3385 times)

charlene

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Just saw so many kids getting such experience before law school, also so many people got ROL from a parter etc.I  was wondering for those people who has already got into law school, does paralegal or related job in law firm really help that much? I talked to several admission deans from Top 10 and neither of them said "yes" however mathematically I ran into so many law school people who had done such jobs. What do you think?

queencruella

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2006, 07:52:13 AM »
I find that a lot of students just out of undergrad or with a year of work experience have either done legal internships or been paralegals. I think it's natural that people want to have some idea of what they are getting into, so they choose these sorts of internships/jobs to get experience and exposure. As someone with paralegal experience, you'll be one of hundreds or even thousands of people applying with those qualifications. Schools are looking for diversity, so if you are a cookie-cutter applicant with a good GPA, good LSAT, standard ECs, and standard work experience, you may not be as sought after as someone with unusual work experience.

lyquidmyrrrh

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2006, 12:12:11 PM »
and it's not as if all paralegal experiences are the same...  There's definitely a difference between the prerequisite knowledge required for personal injury and corporate/transactional paralegal work.  For example, most corporate (ie doing transactional work) paralegals at major firms are making well into the six figures.  How substantive will your experience be?  If one's experience doing paralegal work is unique, I would suggest to highlight it either in a PS or letter of rec.  But that same principle applies for all work experience.

On another note: there are indeed many people who "try out" the legal profession as a paralegal or legal assistant.  Many of the people I know who did so at a major firm ended up hating it and are not applying to law school.  With that in mind, it might be more useful to you personally to have an idea of what you are getting into.

H4CS

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2006, 12:17:17 PM »
I've always assumed that it would help you about as much as being a bat boy would be a natural stepping stone to playing center field.

awesome1

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2006, 12:32:44 PM »
in the top 10, it helps to show that your english degree from Harvard UG was not the only thing that encouraged you to apply to law school, so they like to see that you saw what biglaw hell is like and are willing to pay 150k for a chance to do it

Polo06

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2006, 02:11:51 PM »
In Montauk's 'Top Law Schools' book, the following quotes were included from the Associate Dean of Enrollment at Northwestern.

"Law interacts with the world, so it is better that someone learn about the world (before coming to law school) than work in law."

"I prefer to see business related experience rather than work in a law firm.  In consulting and investment banking, for example, the demands on the person are great, whereas the responsibilities in a law firm tend to be less challenging.  Thus the former carries more weight, although we do look at both."

Granted, this is only one school, but I believe that many schools share this mindset.  Obviously, working in a law firm may help the candidate decide if law school is right for them, but IMO it provides little advantage in the admission process.
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H4CS

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2006, 02:32:59 PM »
I've always assumed that it would help you about as much as being a bat boy would be a natural stepping stone to playing center field.

Maybe not a "natural" stepping stone, but at least you can see what the center fielder's day-to-day is like and if it's worth putting in the hard work to get to that position.

That's the point I'm making.  You might get an understanding of what's going on, but in no way are you really participating in the process nor does your job resemble the job of those who are actually practioners.  I mean, I'm sure a very small handful of pros got their starts in the clubhouse that way, but I think it's probably overrated.

skeeball

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2006, 02:36:43 PM »
With regards to the "experience what it's like" argument: You could come to that same conclusion by doing a summer internship or volunteering in a clinic. You don't have to be a paralegal for a year after school. The time you take off between UG and LS is very precious. Why would you want to go work in a firm when you have your whole life to do that?

eyeoftheligrr

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2006, 02:39:06 PM »
If law schools are concerned about their job placement rates (and they should be) then it seems to me that they might appreciate an applicant who has a foot in the door at a top firm.  If a firm is deciding between two candidates from roughly comparable schools, wouldn't they prefer to hire the one that they already know?

Entry level work at a law firm might not prepare you to be a lawyer, but it can be useful for developing contacts that lead to employment.

pikey

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Re: Does paralegal experience boost your chance of application a lot?
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2006, 02:44:46 PM »
Some of the admissions officers quoted in Montauk seem to imply that it can actually be a negative factor.  They see so many paralegal apps that you really have to work to differentiate yourself.  Also, they know that most paralegals aren't doing anything too challenging (their words, not mine!), so they'd rather see stuff like some of the consulting or i-banking jobs.
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