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I am looking at going into the paralegal field and am a little confused on what exactly you need to be hired as a paralegal assistant. Do most lawyers/firms prefer an associates? Or would they hire someone with a certificate only? Keep in mind I have no experience in the legal field and 42 credit hours but no degree. Thanks
Well out of all the re search I have done you are the FIRST to say that paralegal jobs are becoming less and less heard of. Because I have actually read many places that paralegal assistants ARE in demand and are growing rapidly. I have also done search for paralegal openings in my area on careerbuilder.com and I got AT LEAST 20 hits. I have heard that becoming a lawyer is hard because they try to "control" how many there are so it is easier for little ones we have to charge higher rates. Also I have been looking into an associates degree at a community college that is 1 out of the 2 college approved by the American Bar Association in Kansas. So while I appreciate your time and answer... I don't agree with it. And the re search I have done just doesn't match up.
Wow lots of misinformation and poorly drawn conclusions in some of the answers here. I have been a paralegal and I am currently an attorney in a small firm of less than 100 lawyers. The underlying problem with the employment market for lawyers bears little relation or impact on the employment market for paralegals so a huge portion of what has been said here while true, is not relevant because it pertains to lawyers not paralegals. In short the primary traditional reason why employment market conditions for lawyers has been so bad for entry level lawyers in the United States is because there is are too many law schools producing too many entry level lawyers every year than the market can support and the ABA standards for accrediting law schools is too lax, and the requirements for admission to state bars are generally too easy. There is no correlating issue with the paralegal industry because, historically, there has never been a paralegal school industry cranking out paralegals in significant enough numbers to hurt the hiring market. In addition the job market for paralegals has been expanding over the past decade in many jurisdictions with the creation of the Legal Document Preparation (LDP) industry. The growth of this industry is undercutting entry level attorney job opportunities but it is simultaneously expanding the number of jobs for paralegals. While overseas LDP firms are also a growing industry, unlike lawyers, paralegals can price themselves competitively with overseas businesses because paralegals don't have six figure graduate school loan debts or other traditional overhead that law firms carry hanging over their head. An additional growing area are paralegal firms that contract out directly to solo practitioners and small private practices. This area stands to grow because many lawyers, both experienced and new, are being driven out of big law firm or mid-sized law firm practice as they have been laid off or not hired by these traditional employers due to the attrition caused by the recession. These lawyers, if they remain in law practice, are going to cause the number of small law practices that can utilize the services of paralegal firms to grow significantly in the next few years. For the time being, however, there is an oversupply of paralegals because literally thousands of experienced qualified paralegals were laid off from firms over the past year. You would be in direct competition with these paralegals for any available jobs. It doesn't take a genius to figure out who a law firm is going to hire in a decision between you, with a paralegal certificate and no work experience, and a paralegals with over 5 years of experience and a bachelor's degree, and one is likely to encounter this situation frequently and often in today's paralegal job market. That situation probably will not change for at least another year. In general, most law firms place value on a paralegals credentials in the order of (1) work experience as a paralegal (2) bachelors degree from a good college and (3) an ABA approved associates degree. I interview and make the hiring recommendations for corporate paralegals to the chair of the corporate department of our law firm. In all my time of doing so, we have not hired a single corporate paralegal that did not have a bachelor's degree. That's not to say that none were ever considered or that we never will hire a paralegal that only has an Associates degree, but I highly doubt that we would every hire one who has no bachelors degree and no prior work experience and we would never hire a paralegal that simply had a paralegal certificate. If a paralegal certification course is less than 2 years without an underlying bachelors degree or a years worth of college credit then it is highly unlikely that it is ABA certified anyway, which means it is essentially worthless in terms of affecting your marketability to employers. Now with all this being said, you are in Kansas, and law firms in areas that did not rely on a lot of their business coming from providing services to big businesses were much less affected by the recession. I would hazard to guess that Kansas was one of those areas since it is basically devoid of big law firm offices and I doubt that there have been droves of unemployed paralegals that have migrated from places like New York, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington D.C., Illinois and Florida where most of the displaced paralegals are located. Therefore it is probable that the Kansas employment market for paralegals has not been significantly impacted by the recession which might explain why you got a decent amount of hits on careerbuilder.com. You should bear in mind however that a lot of those hits on those kinds of sites often end up being repeats if they are postings from an agency and not the actual employer. Employers will often use more than one agency since it doesn't cost them any money to do so, and agencies will use the same job websites.
No law experience means she will have little or no chance of finding a job. Almost all firms want experience, usually 2 years. If she wants to be a paralegal, she should find an entry-level job, like a clerk, and then get the experience to become a paralegal. Once she finds an entry-level job, she can begin school. She needs to find an ABA-approved school. More and more employers are demanding a formal education and they want to see ABA-approved schools. I have a BA with high honors, high-level office experience and I enrolled in an approved paralegal program. Not only could I not find an entry-level job, I was told many times that no firm would hire without experience. I left the program because I was not about to waste over 2 years. Also, there are not as many paralegal jobs as people think. The ones available go to people with experience. If you do manage to get a job with no experience, you will make a very low salary. In my one class, we had 5 people who are paralegals. They got their jobs through years of experience. They have no degrees, but want the Associates to get other jobs. There were 5 of us or so with BAs and none of us could get hired. Several have Criminal Justice degrees. That shows you how important experience is. It is necessary. I saw an ad today that said not to apply unless you had several years of experience and certain legal area exposure. I have seen several similar ads. The skeptics are right in this case. Bottom line: you need at least 2 years of experience and a formal approved education is becoming more important. Without experience, you will most likely not find work, even if you have the education. With experience, you will find work, but you will be limited without the education. That is why you need to find an entry-level job before you even start school.
The Bureau of Labor's statistics are GROSSLY inflated also. You came on Y/A and asked a question. Poster "mailaccount63" gave you a good,solid answer, which you rejected. Law schools (like that community college you are looking into) ARE businesses which are in the business to make a buck. They don't really care if you get a job after you graduate. There are just too many law schools in the U.S. You need to do more research. I recommend asking someone that currently works in the field of Law - like mailaccount63. Also, mailaccount63 suggested that you do a search here on Yahoo Answers to see what other posters are saying about this subject. I really like mailaccount63's suggestion that you call some local law firms - and ask to speak to the Manager of Human Resources - ask THEM if they are hiring; ask them what they think about job availability in the field of Law.................. Why don't you try out some of those "hits" you ran across on Monster - ask them your questions. An Associates degree in the law field today is going to be worthless. Today's employers in the law field do want bachelors degrees - this I know for sure. One of my best friends works at a large law firm, and she agrees that this is today's minimum educational requirement. Certificates are a TOTAL waste of time and money. You asked a question, but you already had your mind made up. Go ahead, waste your time and money on getting that associates. I guess you just need to find out the hard way. There are NO "controls" in the USA about how many lawyers there are. At all. Just check out this previous question: Resolved Question » Why has the American Bar Association allowed too many law schools? It's obvious that the job market/economy is saturated with way too many Legal Professionals. WHY doesn't the American Bar Association do something? WHY does the American Bar Association allow law schools to start up and/or exist on every corner? 3 months ago by CatLaw Member since: March 27, 2007 (who is an ATTORNEY) Best Answer - Chosen by Asker Great question, one that many attorneys have attempted with no luck to get answered. It seems like someone, anyone should be speaking up for the profession. My take on this problem begins in the 1950s. Up until that point law school was pretty impossible to get into unless a person had lots of money and connections to get them in. The ABA was like a fraternity who was the only group to take on the huge job of trying to regulate law schools. They were the ones who worked on what courses and what schools should be accredited. All the work was needed. In the 1950's the WWII soldiers who had benefits that for the first time included paid tuition marched into law school. Those who could not afford law school were now able to get in without paying. Some of my law profs got into Harvard on the G.I. bill. And still ABA was doing the job of making law schools adhere to certain standards and providing its membership with that fraternity feeling. Beginning late 1960s and into the 1980s the legal profession, law schools, and the ABA joined the rest of the country and decided that 'greed is good'. Now the lofty goals of getting the 'best & the brightest' into law school took back seat to the count of people enrolled in law school and how much high tuition could the school get. At that point it may have behooved the ABA to ask if the law school's increased class size, addition of evening division, and lowering of high standards was healthy for the profession. But no one asked. Besides the issue of greed for the law schools and additional paying members for the ABA, there was the issue of diversity and letting into law school those who had been rejected due to discrimination (women). So the schools and the ABA were getting in more money, while resolving a nasty issue of discrimination, and all without any hint that the profession was getting full. The ABA knows that the profession is full, they have known for years, yet they still let law schools start up, let current schools have large class sizes, allow evening divisions in law schools, do not insist on higher standards for entry into law school, and let the law schools graduate people 2 times a year. Could it be because the ABA gets fees from these many law schools??? Could it be because the ABA gets membership fees from the inflated number of attorneys??? And seminar fees, and book fees, and CLE fees??? Certainly continuing to graduate so many people who have fewer opportunities is not good for the profession or the the law schools or ABA. Just my opinion. Source(s): Illinois attorney 3 months ago Asker's Comment: Thanks, CatLaw! I have just been wondering why they don't do SOMETHING about the field of Law being so anemic. Devastator Email Either the bar association doesn't think there are too many, or doesn't have the power to stop them. There are 50 state bar associations competing with one another. Membership numbers are the motivation, not being a 'gatekeeper' of the legal profession. By the way: The term is "Paralegal" Madison "Legal Assistant" - NOT "Paralegal Assistant".
Probably not. Job searching has changed drastically in the last twenty years. In the field of Law, in today's fierce job market, employers (usually law firms) are looking for employees with BACHELORS degrees. There are lots of unemployed people out there with bachelors degrees and more. If you want to be competitive, you'll need a bachelors. Choosing a career is one of life's most important and difficult decisions. The legal profession is dramatically changing and is in absolute CRISIS!!! Every year, more and more people graduate from law school, but there are fewer and fewer jobs. Even the largest and most reputable law firms are experiencing unprecedented cutbacks. I don't expect the situation to improve in the coming years..... Be aware of what you are proposing on getting yourself into. Please do more research first. Reminder: We are in a World-wide Recession. Consider career paths that have available JOBS.<<<<< Warning> Jobs in the field of Law are drying up fast!! This is just not a good field to invest time and/or money into. This is a SHRINKING, crumbling, and dying vocational field. Many reasons. We now have computers. So, many people today (mistakenly) think they can do their own legal work, thanks to the Internet. Also, there are a lot of companies out there making very efficient legal software for the field of Law. Today's graduating lawyers tend to be very computer savvy, so they just do the work themselves to save themselves the cost of overhead. Also, the "Public" buys this legal software in order to get legal work done without the cost of an Attorney. Also, we simply already have way too many Legal Professionals - we have an absolute glut!! ("Legal Professionals" includes, but is not limited to: Attorneys/Lawyers, Paralegals, Legal Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Bailiffs, Court Reporters, etc, etc) Sites like legalzoom.com have taken away work that many small-time attorneys/lawyers would do. The field of Law has a mystique that actually exceeds reality. The field of Law is an overrated career - mostly by television. There are many myths regarding the field of Law: working as a Lawyer is mentally challenging (Actually, most work as an attorney involves routine paperwork: research, cite checking, drafting documents, and document review. Attorneys need to write down and track every activity they do, all day long [in 6 to 15 minutes increments, depending on the billing system] - a painstaking but necessary task), being an attorney is thrilling, high-powered, and glamorous (remember: television is fiction - the fictional lawyers on TV are ACTORS - the majority of work that an attorney does, does not happen in a courtroom), law students think that because they are good at arguing they will become great attorneys (actually being a great attorney is more in one's ability to mediate between differing sides and bringing them to agreement), as a lawyer I can correct injustices (actually legal decisions are more about reaching compromises than about right vs. wrong), guaranteed financial success (actually when salaries are compared, you also need to account for cost-of living expenses [most large law firms are in large cities - the bigger the city, the more cost-of-living expenses will be], payment of debts accrued while attending law school, and time needed to build a client base. Many large law firms require lawyers to work 60-80 hours per week.). Cost of law school to be lawyer, approx $150,000+. Be prepared to take on a LOT of debt, if becoming an attorney is your "true" ultimate goal.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< There are no jobs in this vocational field. My family, coworkers, friends, acqaintances, etc. have been laid off left and right in this vocational field. Regarding being a Paralegal: Employers (usually law firms) in the field of Law today want employees with Bachelors degrees from traditional colleges/universities. Those "certificates" you see advertised aren't worth the paper they are printed on - they are generally SCAMS. (I found this out the hard way.) Also, the law school's program needs to be accredited by the American Bar Association - if it isn't, you are just wasting your time/money. Even if you finish law school, you won't be able to find a job when you are done. Since this vocational field is shrinking, many new attorneys/lawyers are, themselves, having to work "down" as Paralegals, Legal Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Bailiffs, Court Reporters, etc, etc, to simply try to keep some of their bills paid <<this would be your competition. And the competition is fierce!! Now... the law schools know this, but they won't tell you the truth >that the job market/economy is just SATURATED with way too many Legal Professionals. Instead the schools will feed you a fairytale and will LIE to you. The root of the problem is we have too many law schools. We are in a recession, and the schools are fighting for their own survival - they will tell students anything to get to the students' money. (Which is why they won't tell you the truth about the job market for the field of Law.) And these schools continue to recruit and churn out even more graduates.............Remember: law schools are BUSINESSES - their top concern is making money for themselves. >>>>>I cannot warn you about this enough!!>>>You especially have to beware of the bogus, inflated law school salary/job stats given out by law schools!!!*****<<<<< If you don't believe me, then just do a SEARCH here on Yahoo Answers to see what other posters are saying about the current status of the field of Law. Call some local law firms - ask to speak to the Manager of Human Resources - ask them if they are hiring; ask them what they think about job availability in the field of Law.................. In the book "So You Want to be a Lawyer?" by Marianne Calabrese and Susanne Calabrese (ISBN 0-88391-136-1): "The United States has more lawyers than any other country in the world. About 38,000 students graduate >each year< from the 200+ law schools in the United States. The competition is very keen for jobs and clients." - Even Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (who served on the U.s. Supreme Court for more than 20 years) says there are too many lawyers. (9/14/2008) Check out these websites: (A link to a website does not constitute endorsement.) If you want a job when you are done with your studies, consider and look into the fields of: >>>Healthcare, Information Technology, Law ENFORCEMENT, environmentalism, emergency planning, accounting, education, entertainment, utilities, home-car-commercial-industrial repairs, vice industries, clergy, and/or debt collection! I spoke to a career counselor from Jobs and Family Services, and HE told me that these areas are where the jobs are, and future job opportunities/availability! and scholarships! Good luck. (This is based on my current knowledge, information, belief, and life experiences. This was intended as personal opinion, and not intended to be used as legal advice. Please be careful and do your research.)