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Old 01-12-2014, 10:43 PM
 
6,791 posts, read 7,119,676 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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by N.Cal View Post
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.
There's also not that much prestige for most lawyers, everyone knows law schools have pumped out way too many graduates, being a lawyer is just not a big deal anymore. A few at the top get the money and prestige, but the rest often don't do very well, some end up working as paralegals, or quitting law altogether.
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Old 01-12-2014, 11:03 PM
 
6,791 posts, read 7,119,676 times
Reputation: 6970
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.
Cost of living is rarely much of a factor in compensation. I used to do HR and payroll for a few companies in one of the most expensive areas in the country, it was clear that the employees were not paid to make up for this. Overall, expensive areas might pay a little more, maybe a few thousand, but in no way does it come close to making up for the differences people feel in their cost of living. It's just something people have to accept if they want to work/live in those areas.

As a paralegal 3.5 years is still the beginning of your career, you want to get past the five year mark. This job will likely be a stepping stone, but probably a good one if they are offering benefits/bonuses/raises. I'm not familiar with that exact area, but it sounds like a good offer. You should realize benefits add significantly to compensation.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:38 AM
 
2,014 posts, read 2,244,611 times
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You're only in your mid 20's and may be making over 40 grand per year plus bonus! I wish I would have had my career together at that young age.

Go for it and good luck
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:25 PM
 
18 posts, read 21,551 times
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Thanks again, everyone!

I accepted today Nervous & excited for this transition!
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:31 PM
 
Location: SW Missouri
15,849 posts, read 30,397,094 times
Reputation: 22357
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).
I don't know where you live, but where I live first year attorneys make less than $30,000 a year.

20yrsinBranson
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:59 PM
 
514 posts, read 582,332 times
Reputation: 1078
Quote:
Originally Posted by detshen View Post
There's also not that much prestige for most lawyers, everyone knows law schools have pumped out way too many graduates, being a lawyer is just not a big deal anymore. A few at the top get the money and prestige, but the rest often don't do very well, some end up working as paralegals, or quitting law altogether.
I'm not recommending the OP to become a lawyer. In fact, I would just as well recommend the person to stay far away from the entire industry.
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:34 PM
 
6,791 posts, read 7,119,676 times
Reputation: 6970
Quote:
Originally Posted by e130478 View Post
I'm not recommending the OP to become a lawyer. In fact, I would just as well recommend the person to stay far away from the entire industry.
Fair enough, but being a paralegal is a good middle class career in a country where finding one of those is becoming more and more difficult. Good experienced paralegals can move to supervisory position and earn six figures with great benefits, and no, or only small amounts of student loan debt.
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Old 01-14-2014, 01:58 PM
 
Location: Nassau, Long Island, NY
16,408 posts, read 28,926,977 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sami87 View Post
Thanks again, everyone!

I accepted today Nervous & excited for this transition!
Congratulations on your new job!
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:30 PM
 
6,791 posts, read 7,119,676 times
Reputation: 6970
Quote:
Originally Posted by sami87 View Post
Thanks again, everyone!

I accepted today Nervous & excited for this transition!
Congrats! I hope it all works out well!
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