Paralegal Studies Degree

posted 2 months ago in Career
Post # 2
Member
8273 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

gthgv :  I do not have a paralegal studies degree but I’ve been a paralegal for over 12 years! Is it a bachelor’s program? At least in my area (Boston) most firms are looking for a bachelor’s degree even if it’s not paralegal specific. 

Post # 3
Member
38 posts
Newbee

If you are considering whether to do the degree I can tell you my experiences with paralegals. I am not a paralegal but I worked for a top three law firm as an attorney and in house at a large bank as head legal counsel. My experience is based mainly in the uk but also some in the USA. Not one of the paralegals I had working for me had a paralegal degree either at the law firm or at the bank. They were largely law students who had not yet managed to secure a place at a law firm upon graduation and were hoping this experience would help. Some never ended up leaving and were there permanently. They mainly did things like make discovery bundles it’s not very fun work. There was one professional paralegal who worked on the floor above me who I was friendly with. He basically did the work of a junior associate for a lot less pay. In fact he received a lot less pay than my secretary. So my advice would be if you like secretarial work a legal secretary maybe the way to go. If you like law work go ahead and become lawyer. It is possible the situation is different at a smaller law firm where you probably get more experience and more responsibility but I can’t see it as something I’d like to do as surely it’s then the stress of a lawyer without the pay. Just my two cents worth and no disrespect to anyone who loves being a paralegal. like I say I’ve never actually been one but I’ve had several who worked under me at my firm that I supervised from time to time. 

Post # 6
Hostess
3890 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

gthgv :  I did an accelerated paralegal program as a backup between my BA and JD, so not exactly the same situation.  I don’t think that it really helped me prepare for law school, which is what I was hoping.  The paralegals I work with have varying degrees, but all have at least a BA/BS.  I don’t believe any of them have paralegal studies degrees.  I agree with faithjaney :  that because the legal market is still crappy, a lot of paralegal positions are being taken by people with law degrees, so getting a job in the field may be challenging to start. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you work as a paralegal and then want to be an attorney, you’ll almost definitely have to leave where you’re working, even if you love it, once you become an attorney.  People have a hard time treating former paralegals as attorneys – starting fresh is a must.  I have friends who were paralegals first and they all had this issue. 

Post # 7
Member
8273 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

gthgv :  I have always worked in litigation so it’s specific experience but I like the puzzles. Going through discovery, digging up research, putting together a case for trial – it’s engaging and fun! In my experience YOUR experience as a paralegal will vary wildly depending on the attorneys you work with. I know some that treat their paralegals like crap or just make them do secretarial work – those jobs suck. I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with some wonderful attorneys that respect my expertise and opinions and have a team attitude. I’m given a lot of responsibility and client contact which I (mostly – depends on the client lol) enjoy. 

Definitely don’t settle on salary. Firms aren’t broke. They can pay you and if you’re good they will but not without a bit of a fight. I assisted in the hiring at my old firm and I know for a fact that I make more as a paralegal at my current firm than my old one pays the attorneys. 

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