My Job Search Fresh From Paralegal School

Posted on | October 13, 2010 | 10 Comments

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My experience is much different from the previous post.  I was a teacher for a number of years, so had NO law experience.  I thought going to an ABA accredited paralegal school would change that, but I have already posted about my disappointing time there.

At the school I attended, which my friends and I actually call “clown college”, there was a job placement team.  Now, I use the word “team” very loosely because they were supposed to find us our internships with law firms, which turned out to be are freakin lie and we all had to scramble to find anyone who would take us.  They also promised that they would be working on setting us up on interviews after we graduate, which, of course, never happened.

This is what I did.  I applied to every opening that was listed on Monster, Craigslist, you name it.  Even if it said 5 years experience a must.  I didn’t care.  I just needed my resume out there.  Sometimes the firms that asked for 5 years experience actually called back and had me come in for an interview. 

Being the ever resourceful Paralegal, I also went to every lawyers website within my area, found the attorneys who listed their email and emailed them my resume.  Here is  a BIG tip.  Do not fax your resume to the office.  The office manager, legal secretary, or even paralegal will see it before the attorney does and there is no way they want their job taken away.  They will take if from the fax machine and shred it.  Just don’t waste your time.

I got MANY responses from the attorneys who I emailed.  Most were not looking for anyone at the time, but pointed me to their friends who were, which is how I got my first job. 

Honestly, I didn’t interview much.  I think I went on maybe two interviews before landing my job in Criminal Law, which is still my favorite area of law, even though the attorney was NUTS.  I caught a huge break as well.  With no experience in law, she started me at $45,000 and I ended my time with her making $55,000.  That is really not the “entry level” going rate around my state, but what was I going to do?  Tell her no to that kind of money?  Craziness. BTW- I earned every damn penny with that craziness I put up with.  Remember, I was her waitress at her party once.  Good times.

Use any resources you have.  If you have paralegal friends, ask them if they know of someone.  Email any attorney with their email listed on their website.  Heck, hang out at the county court house, talk to the court coordinators and see if they know attorneys who are looking.  They are the eyes and ears of the court room and they will know who needs someone and who doesn’t.  They are so awesome, they can provide you with the attorneys email address sometimes.

Once again, don’t be discouraged with ads that ask for experience.  If you are the right fit for the firm, they will train you.  The work isn’t THAT hard.  You will probably not get a high salary right off the bat, but you really shouldn’t concentrate on that.  I know that is hard to swallow, but getting your foot in the door and building up experience will lead to higher pay in this world.  Eventually, it does pay off.

Thanks for the B-day wishes ya’ll. 

Paralegal

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Comments

10 Responses to “My Job Search Fresh From Paralegal School”

  1. Portland Paralegal
    October 13th, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    First off, love the blog. Been reading for a couple months and get a chuckle here and there in my otherwise mundane life.

    I have always relied on my experience to get me a job. I started as a legal office assistant 10 years ago and worked my way into two paralegal jobs since. I have no degree (though I’ve taken college courses). I’ve been on both sides of the interview table. When Iwas interviewing/ screening candidates to meet with the partners, my focus was on whether they could handle and keep up intellectually in our fast-paced litigation firm and whether they had the experience to know where to find answers. The rest really will fall into place.

    Recently, the attorney I had been working for for almost seven years had to close his firm due to the economy. I had to interview for the first time in almost a decade. Most of the ads placed required a bachelors degree. I ignored that and applied anywaays. The first firm I interviewed at had over 100 applications. The economy has hit hard here in the Portland area. I landed the job wwwithin hours of the interview.

    The lesson here, getting your foot in the door as some errand girl will push you further in this career than a JD even. Starting from the bottom is a necessity and may be your only way in. Within 1.5 years from starting at minimum wage, I was making over $40k. Be patient!

    Posted from my phone, sorry for typos.

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  6. Purple Paralegal
    October 13th, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

    Wow, you must have been reading my mind. Your post and Mom-alegal’s post were just what I needed today. Entering week three of searching for a job and beginning to feel a little stressed and scared. (More on that later tonight at my blog).

    At least the posts put my mind at ease and helped me to understand what potential employers may be looking for when it comes to an interview.

    Your advice is sound. I will take it to heart.

  7. Paralegal
    October 14th, 2010 @ 3:05 am

    Good luck with the job hunting. I don’t know many attorneys on your side of town, but I’ll keep you in mind if I hear of anything.

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