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Old 01-12-2014, 05:15 PM
 
9,817 posts, read 17,069,799 times
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Just because you work in Fairfax doesn't mean they have to pay you a salary large enough to live in Fairfax. Even if the money is break even, it sounds like this job has more potential to get you to where you want to be.
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Old 01-12-2014, 06:06 PM
 
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone; I appreciate it.

That's actually one of the main reasons I didn't try for my JD. I hear horror stories of all these students graduating w/law degrees and having to bar tend to begin paying off that $100k++ debt, b/c there is a surplus of those w/JDs looking to practice.

Yes, I've played around w/COL calculators, and it compares my current salary to $50k in NOVA. Like some have mentioned however, I wasn't sure how realistic it is to expect them to pay that though.
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Old 01-12-2014, 06:33 PM
 
654 posts, read 893,547 times
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Do not undervalue the benefits -- that could be huge. I don't know if you are paying for your own right now but they have to be worth at least several hundred dollars a month. Also you say you would be up for a raise AND a bonus after a year -- another nice plus. Let's say you get a $2,000 raise and a $1,000 bonus -- not too shabby. I would take the job -- you are bound to learn more and have more experiences by the nature of the size of the firm. And plenty of additional job opportunities exist in Fairfax County -- you will need to network and tell yourself you will stay 2 to 3 years and then you will be more valuable for your next job or in a better position to negotiate for more money. Lastly you can try to negotiate for a higher starting salary -- it never hurts to try if you know how to do it graciously and professionally. Good luck!
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Old 01-12-2014, 06:38 PM
 
Location: NJ
18,677 posts, read 17,117,338 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
I know of two recent law school graduates that passed the bar and are litigating for $10-12/hour. According to them there is a glut of lawyers, and they are willing to work for so little just to get the experience. Seems like even experienced paralegals would be paid less than new lawyers, but it's pretty crazy these days.
Much of the demand for paralegals doing research has been automated. That would suppress salary levels.
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Old 01-12-2014, 07:02 PM
 
2,563 posts, read 2,805,835 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobtn View Post
Much of the demand for paralegals doing research has been automated. That would suppress salary levels.
I wouldn't so quick to assume that the only thing paralegal ls do is research. Actually, in the real world, they can do a little bit of everything, depending on where they work. Some paralegals working for the federal government make in excess of a hundred thousand dollars a year. To be sure, those are specialized jobs, but the work is there and there are people learning that much.
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Old 01-12-2014, 07:09 PM
 
Location: US
3,092 posts, read 3,459,654 times
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Sami - I've been in the field of law all my life. Started off as a runner at the age of 15 way too many years ago. I am a litigation paralegal for the largest PI law firm in the US. You are doing excellent. You are very young and your pros professionally outweigh your cons. You are making the right decisions. As you prove yourself worthy with this new firm, trust me, you will receive more substantive legal tasks than you want. In the law firm's mind they are hiring you to invest in you because you've already invested in yourself. Paralegals long for the career you have already carved out for yourself. You will look back at this message in two years and laugh because you will be so far past it. Good luck and best wishes for your continued success.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sami87 View Post
Hello,

I am in my mid-20's. I have a B.S. in Administration of Justice and an ABA-approved paralegal certificate. I have 3.5 yrs of law office experience, including 2.5 yrs of civil lit. defense experience. I currently live/work in Richmond, VA for a very small civil lit. firm (3 attorneys). Started w/the firm @ $32k in 09/2011, and by 03/2013, was @ $35.5k. I have not received a raise since then (granted, it hasn't been a full year yet, but I believe I'm close to the "ceiling," being w/such a small firm). I get ZERO benefits here, except PTO (holidays, 10 sick, 10 vaca).

I've been job hunting for 15 months. I'm exhausted. Some firms discount my experience b/c the firm I'm currently with is so small. Other firms, based on the fact I still fall under the "recent grad" category (not sure why that is, given that this coming May will mark 4 yrs. out of undergrad), offer me very low $$$ ($29-30k).

Last week I received an offer from a firm in which I'd be doing med. mal. defense.

PROs
*50-attorney firm collectively (several offices along the east coast), but only 9 attorneys in the location I'd be working in (so, bit of a larger/more reputable firm to add to the resume)
*benefits
*the city it's located in has more growth opportunities for the future

CONs
*similar work (I was looking for increased responsibilities/more substantive legal tasks)
*although it's bigger than my current firm, it's not as big as to offer "paralegal II," "senior paralegal," etc in so far as job titles... I always envisioned my next firm a place I could grow with in the long haul. This clearly wouldn't be that place; I'd have to leave again in another couple yrs or so (but maybe it's better this way - a stepping stone from going to tiny firm, to mid-sized, then to big law?).

My number 1 concern though is that the firm is located in Fairfax. I'm familiar w/the area, as I lived there for undergrad. Although I plan on finding roommates, I know how expensive it is to live there. That being said, the firm's offer is $42K based on a 35 hour work week. Paralegals typically work 35-40 hrs/week, & HR told me that paralegals tend to earn an additional $2-3K per year w/that "overtime." I would also get benefits. I would also be up for a bonus and raise at my 1 year mark.

I suppose I'm just concerned that they're lowballing me.... I'm not trying to be too big for my britches, but I am aware of the cost of living difference btwn RVA and FX, and I'm worried this would be a lateral move (yes, technically I would net more, but not THAT much more, esp. for the cost of living). If it was a Richmond firm offering $42K, I'd jump on it.

Thoughts? Please be kind... I'm just looking for some information. Thank you.
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Old 01-12-2014, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Round Rock, Texas
10,799 posts, read 10,248,752 times
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Yup, that salary sounds about right for your years of experience. Put in more years, you'll see more pay. Though don't expect six figures or anywhere near it (depending on where you live)...here in Austin, TX, many of the paralegals are in the 50-70K range.
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Old 01-12-2014, 07:37 PM
 
514 posts, read 583,971 times
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I don't understand why people make a career out of being a paralegal. You do all the legwork of law, but get none of the prestige or money that follows from it. It's also a profession that has a very low ceiling. You could spend thirty years in the area and know more about the law than some associates, but you will damned sure never be compensated as such because you don't have the legal ability to offer billable services -- which is ultimately the only thing that firms care about.
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:06 PM
 
612 posts, read 1,188,407 times
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Your salary seems right to me.

I disagree with the poster that said 0-5 years is entry level, that is such a huge range and you really gain A LOT of experience each and every year you are on the job during those early few years.

The general consensus is that 0-2 years is entry level. You are considered to be experienced if you have 2-4 years.
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:27 PM
 
3,364 posts, read 3,072,611 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e130478 View Post
I don't understand why people make a career out of being a paralegal. You do all the legwork of law, but get none of the prestige or money that follows from it. It's also a profession that has a very low ceiling. You could spend thirty years in the area and know more about the law than some associates, but you will damned sure never be compensated as such because you don't have the legal ability to offer billable services -- which is ultimately the only thing that firms care about.
Every paralegal I know bills their time. And lawyers are dime a dozen. So why go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt when you may not be able to get a job.
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