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Old 06-01-2011, 11:12 AM
 
68 posts, read 158,175 times
Reputation: 59

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I am interested in going back to school part-time. I was going to sign up soon for the Paralegal program but we are moving from WI to MI, specifically the U.P.
Does anyone know if there's a paralegal program at a tech/school up there?
Thanks!
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:25 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,767 posts, read 65,663,240 times
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No idea where the paralegal schools are, nor where GOOD paralegal schools are. Getting a paralegal certificate does not make you a paralegal. It just makes you a person with a paralegal certificate. With no experience, you are not very useful to most lawyers. If you are unusually brilliant and a self starter you may pick things up fast enough to be useful. Otherwise you will need to get some experience. There are two good ways to do this. 1. Get a job in a big firm as part of a paralegal team. You can learn from more experienced paralegals as you work. 2. Get a job as a legal secretary/paralegal. This allows you to be useful even though you do not really know anything yet. With one exception, every good paralegal that I have ever known started out as a legal secretary. With no exceptions every good paralegal that I have ever known was extremely bright and unusually well organized. There are loads of useless paralegals out there. More are useless than helpful. That being the case, if you are a GOOD paralegal, lawyers and firms are willing to go to considerable lengths to keep you. Our department would shut down without our paralegal.

Most lawyers are not interested in investing a lot of their time to teach you if you have no experience. Most times, a lawyer will spend hundreds of hours training a paralegal or a young associate only to have them leave for more pay once they have learned something.

Speaking for myself and I think for my firm, we only hire experienced paralegals. I do not know anyone who hires inexperienced paralegals but I suspect that some of the giant firms might. It also depends on the type of law involved. Some practices are more paralegal intensive. The most paralegal intensive practices that i can think of are plaintiff PI firms and workers compensation. Unfortunately those also tend to be the slimiest. However there are some good honest lawyers practicing in these fields. They are not all like that guy you see on TV.

If you do become a good paralegal, you may be able to work for a firm from a distance. You could commute to a population center a couple of days a week and work form home, or wherever you need to go the rest of the week. IN some fields, paralegals travel a great deal, so it may not matter where you live to some lawyers or firms. There are not a lot of lawyers/law firms in the UP. Many are solo practice types and cannot afford a paralegal (but they may be able to take on a secretary/paralegal).

Good luck
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Old 06-03-2011, 11:24 AM
 
68 posts, read 158,175 times
Reputation: 59
wow! Thank you that does help me a lot!
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Michissippi
3,119 posts, read 7,307,410 times
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Investigate the paralegal field very heavily. It may be glutted. Also, you may face competition from actual JDs because the legal field is severely glutted. In contemplating the employment value of higher education today, one big issue is whether or not you can relocate. If you can't relocate then you could end up having a degree in an area without any job openings (and/or very few employers). One of Coldjensens's comments may be very telling:

Quote:
I do not know anyone who hires inexperienced paralegals but I suspect that some of the giant firms might.
If no one wants to hire inexperienced entry-level new graduates, it's a sign that the market may be glutted.

Overall, your best bet would probably be to get a nursing degree, especially if you would be willing to relocate to a rural state. Keep in mind that much of higher education is now a scam intended to ply student loan dollars out of students. If you can obtain education very inexpensively at a local public community college then it might be worthwhile. Definitely avoid for-profit colleges.
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Old 06-11-2011, 06:55 AM
 
921 posts, read 1,785,490 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhaalspawn View Post
If no one wants to hire inexperienced entry-level new graduates, it's a sign that the market may be glutted.
I don't even think it's necessarily that so much as it is the fact that with the economy in the condition that it's in, it is definitely an employer's world. They can oftentimes hire a highly educated paralegal with a great education, for very little. More "bang for their buck", so to speak.

I received my paralegal degree at the beginning of the year. I've worked in law offices, etc., and when I first went back to school my intention was to do legal paperwork for people and be on my own. Low and behold, halfway through my education I discovered that...oops...it's illegal to do legal paperwork for others in MI without a JD...so much for that, lol- after I received my degree, I decided to take a quickie course in legal transcription, although I have been somewhat of a slacker lately (too much going on, and it's one of those "go at your own pace" courses...which means my "pace", as of late, has been like that of a snail, hahaha). That might be something for the OP- if you are going to be living up North (ohhh, lucky you- soooooo beautiful!), you might consider doing something of that nature and doing it as an independent contractor online! A good paralegal school will include transcription, and with your paralegal degree the transcription itself will be a breeze.

With the economy in the condition it's in, we all have to sort of think outside the box- look for ways that your degree can work for you, outside of the norm- good luck to you!
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:37 AM
 
1 posts, read 1,158 times
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I live in the Chicago-land area and received advice similar to that of Coldjensens' over 30 years ago. I have no BA degree, but have moved fluidly without it by alternatingly calling myself a legal secretary, legal assistant and/or paralegal. To me, legal assistant covers both the secretarial side while paralegal represents the research/drafting/document preparation/document organizational sides of my job duties. There's at a minimum of a duality involved with this career. I believe the best way for you to break into the training would be to obtain a job anywhere within a corporate law department. Fantastic benefits (e.g., tuition reimbursement) and a birds-eye view of what these type of jobs entail on a daily basis. I left my Corporate Legal Assistant position over 9 years ago making about $47-50k. I left because I truly missed the multiple hats I wore in a small-to-medium firm, despite the fact that in the small office setting that I made 50% less than the corporate job.

But I missed it, because I passionately loved the one-on-one with my clients and did not miss the much drier existence in a large corporation performing dry corporate-related work. I am now building my own consultancy practice to assist 1-3 lawyer firms. What they are dragged down by is the day-to-day admin tasks that I can charge them $40-50/hour so they do not have to waste their own $180-450/hour time performing them. They can also then bill me out at a minimum of $75/hour to their clients for my services. Happy pocketbooks all along! Good Luck Jenny!
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Old 06-12-2011, 08:38 AM
 
921 posts, read 1,785,490 times
Reputation: 870
I meant to say highly "experienced" paralegal with a great education, up there. Boy...I was sure detail-oriented yesterday, wasn't I? lol-
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