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Old 01-12-2014, 09:11 AM
 
18 posts, read 21,552 times
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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, 10:21 AM
 
4,069 posts, read 5,480,368 times
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After 4 years of experience, you definitely would qualify for more than "recent grad" pay. You should be at the next salary grade. What I like to do is check Glassdoor, salary.com, to get a basic salary range.

Keep in mind, that's it's still early in the job hiring season. There will be more postings as reqs get approved.
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:06 PM
 
7,426 posts, read 11,586,607 times
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0-5 years is generally entry level.

At my last job, I worked with people who as soon as they had 2 years started calling themselves mid-level. Lol. Mid level is anything from 5 to 20 years of experience. Your pay is commensurate with a) years in the specific experience an employer seeks, b) your ability to manage projects/people and bring in business. You don't get pay raises just by being a certain age and keeping a cubicle chair warm. I know engineers who make the exact same now that they did in 2006.

I think it's a really good offer actually.

42K for an entry level paralegal with a couple of years of experience?

You are aware what some lawyers with JDs from good schools are making these days right? Just about the same.
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:46 PM
MJ7
 
6,221 posts, read 8,658,953 times
Reputation: 6514
You're in a very tough position. Although it is more pay then you earn now, it is not what you would like be getting. I'm not familiar enough with the law side of job competition, but it seems pretty darn steep? 15 months to land that job I would try to negotiate a couple grand more per year and make the jump. It is a great way to build your resume and then look somewhere later, your time is coming you will land something bigger, after a few leaps of course. Good luck!

PS. I do not see any benefit at staying where you are.

Last edited by MJ7; 01-12-2014 at 02:13 PM..
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Old 01-12-2014, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Maryland
18,624 posts, read 16,456,834 times
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Take it, try if you can for a little more but take it.
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Old 01-12-2014, 03:30 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
29,903 posts, read 54,615,351 times
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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.
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Old 01-12-2014, 03:38 PM
 
Location: Florida
22,415 posts, read 9,522,108 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.
No that is not really true. Experienced paralegals may make more than brand new attorneys, especially if there is a glut of new attorneys. A lot of firms do not pay new associates much at all.
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Old 01-12-2014, 03:39 PM
 
473 posts, read 646,393 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.

I would concur with this. I graduated from law school in 2011 and I know myself, along with many of my classmates, ending up taking jobs making less than $40k per year just to have a job. Now myself and others have since moved on to better jobs, but there are plenty of lawyers out there who never exceed $50k per year in their career.
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Old 01-12-2014, 03:41 PM
 
473 posts, read 646,393 times
Reputation: 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigma777 View Post
No that is not really true. Experienced paralegals may make more than brand new attorneys, especially if there is a glut of new attorneys. A lot of firms do not pay new associates much at all.

I would agree that experienced paralegals are valuable and can make more than new attorneys. However, I guess the question would be "how experienced"? 20+ years? Yes they should be making more than most recent law grads. Paralegal who has worked for 3yrs? Probably should not be a huge difference. One has three years more experience, but the other has three years of specialized education and a license.
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Old 01-12-2014, 04:01 PM
 
Location: Hampton Roads
3,032 posts, read 3,800,101 times
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Cost of Living Calculator: Compare the Cost of Living in Two Cities - CNNMoney

Not absolutely accurate but it's a good "relative ball park figure", but I plugged in "I live in Washington/Arlington/Alexandria and want to live in Richmond and I make 45K" and it says a comparable salary in Richmond is about 32K.... seems like you're making more in Richmond even though it is less.

I say this as someone who left northern VA for Hampton Roads....
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