Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Going to law school to get rich?

Merry Chrismukkahwanzaa and Happy New Year!

At a recent holiday party I ran into an old co worker who was also laid off after our company went under in the "Great recession". He was going to do a paralegal program, but the decided on nursing. He is now an RN and makes over $35.00 an hour. Plus, he makes overtime pay which should bring him around 100k a year easily. The guy in the warehouse went back and did electrical training. He is now working with an electrician and trying to get into the union. He told me that his boss has his own electrician business and makes over $230,000 a year. I asked him if his boss wouldn't mind using another apprentice<grin> !

I have been working various jobs to make ends meet, taking classes in another in demand profession and trying to figure out what to do with my life. Recently, I ran into a prelaw student from UCSD and he told me that he is hell bent on going to law school and that all these "Scamblogs" are just BS! He thinks that the job market for attorneys is great, and that lawyers who can't get high paying jobs are just lazy! The naive pre law student seriously thinks that all lawyers make over $100k a year starting! He is in for one rude awakening. I told him that if money is his only motivator then FUCK LAW SCHOOL. If you want to make money , and lots and lots of money, there are 5 options that you should consider. They are..

1.)  - Health Care -

Good economy, Bad economy, Recession, Depression...People are always going to get sick, have babies, go to the ER, get cavities and need prescriptions. Become an MD, Pharm.D. Dentist, Optometrist, Physical therapist or Nurse. Even if you don't do a high end doctorate program in health care, there are always tons of jobs for nursing assistants and other jobs. Even if medicine gets socialized (which I doubt it ever will), you will still be able to make a decent living wage. Health care is the best recession proof industry to find a job. It is completely inelastic to every political, economic and social factor.

2.)  -Sales -

 While it may be cyclical, even with the economy, if you are good in sales you can make a lot of money. I know sales people at Saks, Neiman Marcus, Auto dealerships and pharm reps who make a ton of money. My other friend sells adult toys wholesale and pulls down over 120k a year at trade shows and conventions ( and no she is not hiring!)

3.) - Accounting-

We have all heard that old joke about death and taxes being the only two things guaranteed things in this world. Accounting is a very very hard major. In most undergraduate business schools there is a horrible attrition in Accounting. Many people either go to Finance , Business Economics or Marketing/Management. However, accounting is great because its a professional undergraduate degree and even if you never go on for an MBA or grad school you can still become a CPA and make a decent living. I read somewhere that experienced accountants make an average salary of $80k a year. This is good money considering the fact that you will never need grad school debt and every company needs an accountant. Also, they are usually the last people to get laid off in bad times.

4.) -Engineering-

Not all of us are very good at Math & Science, but if you are then major in Engineering! Getting a BS in Engineering a professional degree and you will average around 65-85k a year STARTING in various fields. The best fields in engineering are chemical, computer, civil and electrical engineering. There are always jobs in government, private industry and R&D firms. Engineers make a good salary and many go back to get MBA's and make great money in management. You do hear stories of how glamorous it is to become a "patent" attorney, but those jobs are far and few. There are many more opportunities in private industry as an Engineer.

5.) -Trades-

I know that we are living in an era where parents, professors and society constantly pushing more higher education, but you can make a great living in the trades. I think everyone should be somewhat educated, be aware of the globalized modern world and have a strong understanding of liberal arts. However, just because you have a college degree or even a graduate degree, it does not mean you should scoff at people who work in trades. I know plumbers, electricians, and other people in trades who make tons of money. If I could go back in time, I wish I joined a trade myself and made a lot of money like the electrician making 230k. While it may not be a prestigious as a JD, MD, Ph.D. etc., you do make great money and you will always find work. Just because something isn't very "White collar", it doesn't mean its a bad profession to be in!

 So all you pre law students looking to get rich, these are your best bets at earning good money, with stable jobs and lots of opportunities. If you can, avoid law school and all legal education programs like the plague!

- The Poor Paralegal

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some Paralegals are Stealing Christmas!

A Paralegal in Tampa Bay, Florida was arrested for stealing a client's credit card and information from the confidential account and going on a shopping spree. The paralegal wanted to buy presents for her kids for Christmas and thought it would be okay to charge the money and probably thought she could get away with it and do other things to cover up her transactions within her law firm. Then again with salaries in the American legal profession being less than wages in India, maybe she had to steal to make ends meet? She was arrested and is more than likely unemployed, and I doubt she will get unemployment from the EDD. Here is a bit of advice: NEVER STEAL CREDIT CARDS THAT NEED TO BE SHREDDED FROM A BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY!!

For crying out loud, the attorneys of the law firm probably knew where every penny of the clients money was going since their law firm specializes in bankruptcy! I can only imagine how crazy her boss went when he found out  that his paralegal was stealing money from his clients. Maybe now he will have to double check his own business checking account? His response was probably very similar to the man in the video above..

--The Poor Paralegal

Thursday, November 18, 2010

1 in 5 Workers are Underemployed in America

The Seattle Times has reported the harsh truth about underemployment in the USA. The term "underemployment" has various different meanings. Lets double check with the Dictionary, shall we?

Underemployment (adj.)
  1. Employed only part-time when one needs and desires full-time employment.
  2. Inadequately employed, especially employed at a low-paying job that requires less skill or training than one possesses.
  3. Not fully or adequately used or employed.
Right now 1 out of every 5 workers in the state of Washington is currently underemployed. Many MBA's, JD's, and others with professional education are working to find any job that will help pay the bills. The article in the link also discusses one recent law school graduate who has nearly $150,000 in debt but is working a non legal office job just to help make ends meet. This is the new reality of underemployment in Corporate America. Sad, but true..

-The Poor Paralegal

Monday, November 15, 2010

Amazing New Article

 The Washington Post has published an amazing article that reveals the ugly truth about the current state of the legal education and the dire job outlook for many graduates. I really wish more undergraduates would read these types of articles and get a better idea of what they are getting themselves into when they sign up for LSAT test prep courses.

I read some employment statistic that every year there are around 45,000 new law school graduates each year, but for all of those JD's there are only 30,000 law firm jobs.  In other words only two out of every three law school graduates will find jobs in law firms. The rest will struggle to find anything else out there to pay the bills and the big loan companies.

We have all heard that old joke  they tell 1L's, a professor will tell the first year class  "Look to the person on your left and look to the person on your right, one of these people will fail to graduate from law school!"

But they should replace that old joke with a new joke.

Law professors should tell 1L's " Look to the person on your left and look to the person on your right, one of you will graduate and never gain employment in a law firm."

30,000 annual law firm jobs and maybe a few thousand extra jobs for public sector type positions. There are only so many government jobs and clerkships, so the reality is that we only need about 35,000 new JD's per year in the USA (or less). The US Department of Education should take a firm stand on addressing this issue with the ABA and the student loan companies. If students can't get law jobs to pay back the loans, they will default and make the situation worse for themselves and for the loan companies.

There needs to be serious law school reform and the vast majority of third and fourth tier law schools should be shut down or limit their enrollments to less than 100 new students per year.

In other words, 1 out of every 3 new law school graduates will never get a job practising law. Many are taking jobs as paralegals, making my life even more difficult than it already is!

I highly recommend everyone read the article above, they even have links to all the great scam blogs!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Inside a Legal Staffing Agency

California Here We Come!

I got a call back from a Legal staffing recruiter in Orange County to meet during lunch and discuss potential employment opportunities. My friends cousin knew a guy who was a head of a legal staffing firm and he kindly offered to help me out in my quest for legal employment.

I met Larry* the Legal Recruiter at his office in Newport Beach, CA...

 That's right, THE OC !

Larry was an interesting guy. He was a dark featured white guy (possibly Jewish or Italian) and his late 30's or early 40's. I looked on his wall and he had both a JD and an MBA from a top 20 law school and a BS from an ivy league school. He kind of looked like an older Shia Lebouf.  He was very high strung, full of energy, but he had the worst adult ADHD I had ever seen in my life. I walked into his office and it was a mad house. There were resumes and files discarded like frisbees all over the floor. Water stains from non decaf coffee mugs left rings all over the counters and on his desk.

This was very odd considering the fact that he had a beautiful office in a very modern building ( especially in Newport Beach).

I said "Hi its nice to meet you! I am a friend of Amanda she referred me..." and then he quickly interrupted me and shouted "Yeah ..Yeah..GIVE ME YOUR COVER LETTER AND RESUME.." and I gave him copies of my documents.

He went over my cover letter and resume and began to edit it like a madman with his red pen. He kept making grunting sounds, and saying "hmm...ooh....ahh.....errr...!"

Suddenly, a phone call came from his secretary and he yelled "ONE MINUTE!" and went outside on his patio balcony walking back and forth. After a few minutes he came inside, scratched his head and sank into his chair.  He folded his arms and put his head down on the table. I didn't know what to do, and then foolishly I opened my mouth...

"Is there something wrong? Are you okay?"  I asked him.

He put his head up and said,


I didn't know what to do. Never in my life have I ever  seen an HR person or staffing recruiter lose it...

He then began to confide in me about his own personal problems. Oh my...

It turns out Larry had graduated from USC with a JD/MBA over 10 years ago. He told me he went to law school but after working two summers as a biglaw associate, he knew the legal profession wasn't for him. He did the MBA with the JD only so he could find a business job and escape the cruel realties of the legal profession. He got a job at a legal recruiting agency out of grad school and was making good money but branched out on his own a few years ago.

He said,  if he knew then what he knows now, then he would have just got an MBA from a top 20 school and gone into investment banking, consulting or done something in the business world. However, even when he would send his resume to recruiters when graduated from USC they all would assume he wanted a legal position, and would not take him seriously for other non legal business type positions.

He flat out told me:

" The legal profession is an absolute crisis. Most big law firms are not hiring and taking in new associates until 2012. All the entry level attorneys are taking the jobs as paralegals that YOU SHOULD BE GETTING! This is the worst legal job market I have ever seen. Jobs are being outsourced, firms aren't hiring, and its just a mess. I am not trying to put you down or be negative, but you are a bright guy and you have worked in corporate sales with a business degree...and I will blunt: GO BACK TO SALES! Seriously, there are probably a lot more opportunties out there and I can refer you to two recruiters in the Long Beach area to help you find a job."

Larry said that through out the country, all entry level legal jobs are hard to find. He has lawyers and paralegals looking for jobs, but that law firms are giving him the run around. They don't want to hire people, and attorneys don't want to work low pay document review jobs. He said he gets beat up every day, by both sides:  the law firms and unemployed both give him bs about their own difficult situation.
He said there were no legal assistant/paralegal, filing,  and entry level type positions available at the moment, but he will keep a lookout.

I have heard lawyers, paralegals, and even news media say the job market is bad, but never had a legal recruiter tell me how bad things are. It really opened my eyes. Now, I guess I have to really get aggressive and start looking for jobs outside the legal profession.

-The Poor Paralegal

*Name has been changed to protect privacy

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meeting another Poor Paralegal

Graduating to Unemployment, not Independence

It's been a while since my last post and I needed to give everyone an update.

So I celebrated my birthday and did some soul searching. I thought about my life, goals, where I want to be in the future and what I have to do to accomplish those goals. I cleaned out my bedroom, car, finances, donated old clothes I didnt need, re organized my book shelf and took care of everything that needed to be updated.

My birthday was interesting. I had a friend take me out for a drink in  West Hollywood at a fancy bar off of the Sunset Strip. I met a few people there through other friends and I even met some Attorneys and Paralegals. I met one girl who was really nice and started talking to me about her job, life, and just basic cocktail conversation. She was a pretty woman, cute but not hot. She had brownish/blonde hair, a bob cut and big blue eyes. She reminded me of Ally McBeal, only healthier and not as anorexically thin.

She told me about how she was excited to start a new job as a paralegal at an Intellectual Property Technology boutique in Santa Monica. She got a good job that paid a decent salary (65k a year, and yes I asked how much, I know it's rude but it was my birthday), good hours and nice working conditions. I talked to her about being a poor paralegal, and how the job market has been tough. She told me to hang in there and that I should find something. I began to talk to her about my classes and how I took civil litigation, contracts, probate, intellectual property, and then she said "Ugh I hated Intellectual property. That class was really boring and the tests were frustrating!"

I told her " Yes, I hated doing all those bootlean searches , trademark, and patent applications on the USPTO was very time consuming" and then she said "I know, I hate taking all those IP Classes, trademark was bad enough but unfair competition and monopolies was even worse.."

Suddenly I was baffled. I never heard of those electives? I didn't know we could take those kinds of classes as a paralegal? And I asked her which program she went to for her Paralegal Certificate and she got quiet and anxious. She grabbed the bartender and order us both 2 drinks (grey goose and cranberry juice) and then she avoided my question.  I asked her again and didn't understand why she was acting all weird.

But then the truth finally came out....

She told me she graduated from (  lower ranked ABA approved Law School in Northern California) * and she had a JD but she couldn't find any work as an Attorney. She graduated in 2003 and worked at several different Silicon Valley tech firms making good money but everything changed when the dot com bubble popped. She went to law school part time and was making $90,000-120,000 a year working in Sales and operations for various tech firms. She never even took the California Bar Exam and said she has been out of the legal profession for so long that she was lucky she had an engineer friend get her this job in LA.

I was shocked to receive such a strange birthday present:     I met another Poor Paralegal.

She even told me that she was living with her parents and it was hard being 34 and living at home, but in the past few years she was living off of unemployment and was just thankful she got this new job and she will hopefully make enough to move out on her own soon. I know its tough for a lot of young people these days, and many younger recent college graduates are even consolidating families and living with their parents since they can't get jobs and afford to move out on their own.

I was kind of sad on my birthday to be unemployed, but when I met people with more education, more student debt and in the same predicament, I realized that other people have it worse. I can't imagine how terrifying it must be for law school grads to have $150k+ in debt, have no jobs and settle for working as a paralegal.
The Great Recession of 2007-2010 has made it very difficult for young people to graduate, find jobs, get an apartment and live their own lives. It's very hard and now many generations are now living together. Just read the article below...

-The Poor Paralegal

Friday, October 22, 2010

Today is my Birthday

Today is my birthday.
I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t think normally.
My mind is so boggled. Today I am officially in my thirties. Yes, the big 3-0. I can no longer check “20-29” in the age category for surveys and registration forms. I am no longer in my roaring 20’s. I can no longer act juvenile. I must have some direction, some sense of purpose and know where I am going in my life.
I usually don’t write personal posts, in my other blog or on here...but here goes…
I thought about how hard it has been to be a poor paralegal, but I need to move on with my life. I am proud to say that I finished college at 23; I worked hard and helped out my family. My mother is a widow and I am the only son so I help out my family as much as I can.  I am working 2 jobs part time to make ends meet and it has been hard. Not being fully employed is very hard on your self esteem. I have decided to list the thirty most important things I have learned on the way to turning 30. Here goes….

30.   People need you to understand them more than they need you to agree with them. Not everyone will share your personal and/or professional views. There is no one “right” way to view things. Whether you are on the inside looking out or the outside looking in, someone is always looking..
29.   You must always set goals: Personal and Professional, both Short term and long term. I graduated without a job after doing my paralegal internship but now I am moving on and doing what I have to do to survive. You must ask yourself where you will be in the next 1, 5 and 10 years.
28.   You need to set boundaries in the work place. You are not there to talk about your sexual escapades or high school/college reunions that have a striking resemblance to Girls Gone Wild. Websites such as “Facebook” and “Myspace” can be very dangerous, because you are mixing your personal and professional life. It’s called “Work”, you go to work, and you are there to work because…it is WORK!
27.   You can’t always have the best of everything. You can’t always drive the most expensive car, wear the fanciest clothes or go to the most prestigious college/university. You need a certain level of humility to realize that the reality for the privileged few is not the reality for everyone. Strive to be your best, but know that the compensation is more than just monetary rewards.
26.   People are like elevators. They either take you up or down. When you hang out with people who have no education, no goals and no direction in life, you become like that. Always aim for the top floor of the building..
25.   Trust is the foundation of any relationship. If you lose trust, then you pretty much lose everything. Losing trust usually means losing the relationship.
24.  People you love and care about will hurt you, make peace with it and move on.
23.    Never stop learning. Take a class at a local community college, or through adult education. Learn karate or self defense. Learn a foreign language or about a vocational opportunities outside of your current job. I’ve been doing this and it has really helped me learn about new jobs and opportunities. Plus, It keeps your mind sharp!
22.    Never lose yourself. Never get lost in a relationship, or a job, or something that consumes so much of your life that you forget about your own personal, professional, and future goals in life. Always put things into perspective.
21.    There is no such thing as “easy money” Everyone works damn hard for their money. Whether it’s a janitor, waiter, lawyer or doctor…everyone works for every penny they earn.
20.    Time is an investment. Time is money. It’s better to waste money than it is to waste time, you can always get money but you can’t get more time.
19.     Join a professional organization, any organization. Even if you just graduated college, join a professional group that meets once a month. Meet professional people, make contacts, you may find a new job, make some new friends and find a whole world of opportunities.
18.     Expand your horizons personally and in your social network. In school you had parties and clubbing gets old fast (especially after 25)! Make friends of all age groups, cultures, occupations and get active. Try a new restaurant once a month, go to a museum in your city, or volunteer at a nonprofit one day a month.
17.     You must set goals for your professional objectives. What degree do you want and when do you want it by? When will your business start? How much do you expect to earn the first year? I work 2 jobs and I am training for a new career outside of law. You must look to the future. Dead end jobs will drive you mad!
16.    My family and friends are the most important people to me. I have learned to cherish those relationships and keep the relationship alive. Even if I can’t see them as often as I would like, give them a phone call (no e mails!), send a gift, and remember their birthdays!
15.   You have to be civil in the work place. The real world is not kind and you can’t act like a maniac or let your emotions get to you. Even if you get fired or laid off…don’t take it personally! You must be kind to your boss, send thank you letters to co workers and keep good references. When the next job interview comes around, bad karma will bite you in the @$$ if you aren’t civil!
14.    I am capable of independence and not relying on anyone else financially but myself.
13.    You must take care of your physical health. I try to go to the gym 5 days a week and I don’t view it as a chore. You must think “eating, sleeping, drinking…exercise!” It is also a great way to relieve stress!
12.    You must take an active effort in your personal finances. No one taught you how, but you must learn on your own! I am on over 300 money saving websites (no joke), I learned about taxes, how to buy a car, a house, manage credit and invest wisely through years of active effort. Read business magazines, go to the IRS offices to pick up information on taxes, read The Wall Street Journal every day or just do something.

11.    The day you turned 18, the “but my parents never taught me how to do this or do that” excuse was officially expired. You will be tried as an adult in local, state and federal courts. You are an adult, so now you must act like an adult.

10.      Always learn from your past, but don’t live in your past. People can always change for the better.

9.      Don’t be afraid of change, such as starting a new job, go back to school or move to a new city. Its only hard the first day you try it, then it comes naturally.

8.     Low self esteem gets you nowhere. If you take yourself seriously, everyone else will take you seriously!

7.     You must maintain a spiritual void, believe in your faith, get active in your house of worship or do something for your spirituality. It makes every day a LITTLE bit easier.

6.     Taking care of your health comes in many forms: Your physical health, financial health, emotional health, social health, healthy relationships and a healthy work-life balance.

5.    Never hold grudges. Let it go, don’t stress too much and move on with your life. You will have enough to deal with once you get a mortgage.

4.   I have learned to become more comfortable in myself as person and I am happy in my own skin.

3.   Always be cautious before comfortable, when doing anything in the public sphere.

2.   Love is not about what we get; only what we give and that is everything! Just because two people love each other does not mean that they should be together.

1.   Some years of your life are the questions and some years of your life are the answers.

That’s all for now, but I will try to enjoy my birthday and I hope all of you have a great weekend!
Carpe Diem!

-The Poor Paralegal

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I found a very thought provoking article in the news today. In Wallet Pop, Jonathan Berr reports about a student at Boston College Law School who wants to drop out of law school and has told the school that he would do so in exchange for a tuition refund. He had hopes to become a successful attorney, but with a wife who is pregnant with a child due soon, he has his doubts. As the article states, the student reveals his frustrations of dire job prospects, paying off huge loans and trying to raise a family.

The debt itself is a very daunting task to deal with when trying to raise a wife and children. Many people think Law school is the golden opportunity, when in fact it will just leave you with mountains of debt.

The sad part is that Boston College is a very well respected law school. It's one of the top 25 law schools in nation. This is not some second, third or fourth tier toilet law school. However, this recession is affecting all law school graduates, including grads of top schools.

In fact, a good friend of mine has a father who is a very successful Corporate Attorney at one of the worlds largest firms. In fact, he is a senior partner who graduated from one of the top 3 law schools in the country ( I will give you a hint: HYS). His office is in a beautiful skyscraper in the Beverly Hills/Century City areas of west Los Angeles.

She told him that I was a paralegal without a paycheck and he wanted to help me get a job. I met up with him and he told me about how the financial crisis of 2007-2010 has drastically changed hiring for many major firms. He said that they would love to hire me on as a Paralegal, but the recession has dealt serious blows to the firm and they have laid off a bunch of staff. They will resume hiring new staff in late 2011 or 2012 at the earliest, so until then he can't help me.

I even told him about the story I read in the aforementioned article and then he got very serious. He said that even graduates from the best law schools are having hard times finding jobs these days. Ouch!

Listen folks, all you pre law majors running around thinking you will make big bucks going to law school are in for one rude awakening. You may think you can impress people with a BA in Philosophy, a 170 on the LSAT and by spitting out quotes by Nietzsche and Voltaire, but you are only fooling yourselves!

The downturn in the legal profession has affected everyone, including graduates of top law schools. If you are truly hell bent on becoming an attorney or working in the legal profession, then ask yourself: WHY ?????

The high paying jobs don't exist, you can't discharge the debt, and you may end up trying to get your money back like the kid in the video below!

-The Poor Paralegal


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Paralegal Salary

It has finally happend. Its official. I am losing my mind because of the legal profession.

Let me explain....

So on Friday I went to another job interview. It was for an entry level paralegal position, and I would only be working for a solo practioner. He does workers compensation work, and was looking for someone to help draft all the pleadings and take care of court documents that need to be filed with the clerk.

The attorney himself was a nice guy and said he really needed help. After all, with the economy being so bad and so many injured workers out of a job, they need their claims filed asap!

So Weasel* the Workers Compensation Attorney was really eager to hire me to work for him as a Paralegal.

His office was clean, well organized, and in a very nice building. There was even a special guard at the bottom of the building, allowing only certain people to up to the 7th floor. I was feeling really good about this job. After all, the attorney called me back, he had a professional office, I saw his diplomas on the wall, and so I knew this was legit!

Weasel* was friendly on the phone, and invited me back for 2 rounds of interviews. After my first interviews, he brought me in one last time to make sure I would be a good fit for the company. I sat in his office waiting anxiously like you can't imagine. I was just waiting for Weasel to burst inside with the W-4, I-9, at will employee contract and non fraternization policy!  I was more excited than an overweight, bald, and middle aged fat man at a KISS concert!

He then came inside, sat down and showed me all those wonderful documents. He told me how I would be dealing with professionals, going to the court house, and how I would have to follow the strict dress code. Then he began to talk about the compensation for this position...and he said..

"There were many applicants for this paralegal position, but we chose you , and we are offering a competitive wage of $9.50 an hour..."

And right then I told him "Excuse me? Only 9.50 an hour for this job? Isn't that a little low? That is just above minimum wage..."

Then Weasel* gave me some BS about how its a proven performance salary and that once I prove myself it will move up to 10 bucks an hour, and I told him "Thanks but no thanks!"

And then I left his office.


Listen Folks,

Now, I would love to make a decent living, and I even have some temp agencies that have started to call me back for jobs that pay $12-15 bucks an hour. Don't get me wrong, I would love to be an entry level paralegal and pay my dues, but for 9.50 an hour? GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!!

I mean I need a living wage. My last job before I got laid off in The "Great Recession" paid me $55,000 plus bonus and commission. I am not asking for millions of dollars and  I am not trying to be a job snob, but its fucking disgusting how employers are exploiting workers now in the "Great Recession"

I am beginning to realize that I will have to look outside the legal profession to actually find a living wage. Its fucking disgusting how employers are exploiting workers since they know there are so many people unemployed who need jobs, so they will offer low wages since everyone needs a job.

I think I will seriously start looking at non legal jobs and return to Inside Sales/Contracts Management. If employees want to keep on paying paralegals these shit wages, then maybe the legal profession is not for me. Now, whenever I see a legal job posting on the internet, I want to go crazy and kill my computer. Every time I see a shit law job, I feel like the people in the video above...

-The Poor Paralegal

*Name has been changed and/or protected to protect privacy of a$$holes in the legal profession

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Confessions of a Career Services Counselor

The Ugly Truth About Career Placement Statistics

My Real Property and Contracts Professor told me to go ahead and contact my local law schools in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas and go to their career placement centers. He told me its tough out there for Paralegals and that maybe I should bring a few copies of my resume, go to the law school career services centers, and see if they have any need for Paralegals.

He said maybe they have Attorneys who are looking for legal assistants, Paralegals, and/or cheap labor that hasn't been outsourced to India.

So I went on a road trip and visited several law schools in the LA and OC areas.

I went to a few different law schools and dropped off my resume. Some career service counselors gave me the rolling eyes and said we don't have anything or that they would keep an eye out in case "something comes up" (which basically means it will be headed straight for the trash can)!

However, I did visit one ABA approved law school in the LA/OC area where the career service staff was very friendly. They told me the names of 3-4 attorneys who would need a legal assistant and so they gave me their names and told them that  "Sally the Secretary* from Tier 2/3/4 law school sent you and that you would be a great asset to their firm!"

I had a moment of joy! I was thrilled that I would finally be able to find some law related job, or at least have some leads to some place other than dead end jobs you see on job sites everywhere.

As I was leaving, I looked across the hall and I saw a cute dark featured femme fatale walking my way. She was a knock out! If they put pictures of her in the LSAT test prep books, that alone would be a reason to consider (but not go) to law school. She looked very familiar and then I remembered who she was.

It was Candy* the Career Services Counselor!

She was in the the law schools glossy admission brochure and was in charge of recruiting. I immediately remembered who she was and I followed her to her office. I introduced myself, the fact that I am a paralegal without a paycheck and I asked her about potential job opportunties.She gave me some good advice and got me some leads to help me find a job.

However, right before I left, I asked her "You know here at T2/3/4 law school ..its pretty impressive. Even in this horrible economy. This is the worst recession since the Great Depression, and all these graduates have an average starting salary of around $100,000 a year! Where are these law firms, are they hiring any paralegals?"

And then Candy was quiet. I began to ask her more questions..

She said that the 100k starting salary is an average of all "Reported salaries", and then I asked her more questions about the average. I asked her "What was the range? What did most students start at ? Were there few students on the high end? How does it work?"

Suddenly, Candy wasn't so dandy.

She told me that most students start off at small firms making about 50-65k a year , the VAST Majority of them do, like more than 3/4 of the total percent of the class. Only a handful of students get jobs at big firms making 125-160k a year.

She said they average out the salaries of all reported job offers, and that NOT EVERYONE really starts at $100,000 a year but that is just the average of the highest and lowest reported salaries by recent graduates. I was thankful to Candy for her time and I got her card, but I had an "A ha!" moment when I left her office...
A ha!

THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS FOLKS: The average starting salary usually isn't the typical starting salary for the vast majority of  graduates! Many schools will not offer greater transparency on the employment statistics and offer inaccurate salary information.  


If a non elite law school has 100 graduates, and 80 of them go into private practice and 20 into government jobs/non legal jobs/ clerkships... then this is how it works...

                                                                                                                          Salary Range
60 of them get jobs at small firms of less than 10 attorneys--Starting Salary:      $50,000-65,000
10-15 of them get jobs at higher paid small to medium firms-Starting Salary:       $65,000-95,000
5 of them get jobs at high paying salaries in Big Law firms--Starting Salary:      $125,000-160,000

Lowest Reported Salary : $50,000 + Highest Reported Salary: $160,000 = $210,000

Now take the total of $210,000/ 2 = Average Starting Salary $105,000  (of all reported salaries!)

or they will say "Here at Broken running Toilet law school our salaries ranged from 50k-160k a year, or an average of 105k starting salary  for graduates "

Amazing, isnt it? Many Pre law students see this starting salary and think " Oh I will go to law school and take out 150k in loans, and I will make $105,000 starting, after all thats what career services reports...I will pay the loans back in no time!"

But what Paul* the Pre Law major doesn't understand is that at Toilet law school most students make 50k a year starting and paying back 150k in loans on that salary will be nearly impossible. Less than 1/4 of the class will  make enough money to pay back loans. To all you pre law students out there ,think long and hard before going to law school, and don't be deceived by misleading employment figures. Make sure you do your research carefully!

-The Poor Paralegal

*Name has been changed and/or protected for privacy reasons

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Should Paralegals register with the Bar?

An interesting article in the Examiner, about how the State of New York may soon have Paralegals registering with the New York State Bar. The state of Florida has required for paralegals to be registered with their state bar association, and soon many other states will follow.

Personally, I think this is absolutely brilliant!

There are so many fumbducks out there who have the iq of a fruit fly that are employed as paralegals, legal assistants and even work in BIGLAW firms.

Many of them have had friends or connections hook them up with jobs as paralegals and so they work in law firms, but many don't have an ABA approved paralegal certificate or a Bachelors degree. So many of them are total morons and don't know the difference pleading paper and pleated paper ..

I also get tons of spam e mail to join "Los Scandalous Paralegal Program/Law School....earn your law/paralegal degree from the comfort of your living room. You can do all the courses online and we will mail you a diploma without you stepping foot in a class room". I hate these BS type diploma mills that sell online legal education and other nonsense about getting non ABA approved law/paralegal degrees.

I think of if the ABA required all states to make EVERY paralegal register with their own state bar association and graduate from an ABA approved paralegal program, we wouldn't have half the idiots in the legal profession that we already do (not including law school deans, career service counselors and admissions staff)...

I also think California must do away with the CESSPOOL of CBA approved law schools. If the law school or paralegal program is not approved by the ABA, then it should not exist. In fact, the ABA should pass a law (such an cruel irony), that if any LAW SCHOOL OR PARALEGAL PROGRAM Is in OPERATION IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THEN IT MUST BE ABA APPROVED.

It should be illegal to have these fraudlent diploma mills that prey on young people and are not accredited. If a school is not ABA approved, then it should be shut down immediately or be fined for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This would actually restore some credibility in the legal profession. However, we will still have quite a few crazies in the legal profession, just watch this video..

-The Poor Paralegal

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You can't use a legal education in all sorts of fields..

Not quite LA Law

Today I went to downtown Los Angeles for a big job interview. It was for a sales position at a biotechnology firm that specializes in genetic research selling equipment to hospitals.

Yes, I know it has absolutely nothing to do with being a paralegal. I won't be working with attorneys, lawyers, policy analysts, other paralegals, or Judge Judy..

It has nothing to do with civil litigation, BAJI, CACI, Lexis- Nexis, WestLaw, Shepards Citations and it won't require me using Abacus, Amicus, Timeslips or any other sort of legal software program. I won't use my dubious skills I learned in Civil Litigation, and it won't teach me everything I learned from Corbin on Contracts!

However, the job does pay very good money, there is potential for growth, and it provides a very unique professional atmosphere.

 So as they say in French, "Voir Dire"!

I met with the lady who called me for the interview. She was an older woman, pleasantly plump with big blonde 1980's hair, and a thick southern accent. She said "Your credentials and experience are pretty impressive, you have worked in inside sales, finance and operations management. You have degrees in Finance and Economics and you speak 4 foreign languages (not including spring break spanish), I think you would be a good fit for this position.."

She then told me about the company, what they were looking for in a qualified applicant and that they would be very interested in hiring someone like me, then the questions were headed in a very scary direction..

Olivia* the Obese Recruiter then turned to me and she said "I see that after you were downsized you went back to become a paralegal? WOW! That must be pretty neat. All the court room action and drama, wearing expensive suits, eating out at five star restaurants"

It seems as if she had a very unrealistic view of the legal profession. Of course, being pleasantly plump and having that big hair, I am not surprised she was thinking about five star restaurants.

Then she shook her head and put my resume down.

" I just don't get it! Why on earth would you want to work for this company? Why don't you get a job in a law firm? Why don't you get a paralegal job?"

Then it hit me.

I hate this dreaded question I get whenever I try to return in the business world of why I got a Paralegal Certificate during the "Great Recession" of 2008-2010, but why I don't have a Paralegal job.

I told her I went to get a paralegal certificate to learn more about business law, contracts, wills and trusts, and that it would help me in the business world.

She kept shaking her head. Shaking it like a salt shaker, she said "Geez. This is going to be tough. I have to convince the head of recruiting that you are a great fit for this position. The only problem is this paralegal degree is really hurting you. They will think you will leave this company and find a better job in the lucrative legal industry."

While Olivia* the Obese Recruiter was rambling about how hard it will be to get this job with my paralegal background, I suddenly had all these thoughts racing through my head:

"What the fuck is lucrative about the legal industry? The fact that most paralegal jobs being offered pay 10-12 bucks an hour? The fact that students are graduating with law school with 150-200k in debt and getting job offers for 30-40k a year. The reason why I applied for this job is because there are no fucking jobs in the legal profession. The reason why I want a job at this tech firm is because it pays REAL MONEY! Not some monkey ass 10 dollar an hour entry level paralegal bullshit. The reason why I am looking for jobs outside the legal industry is the same reason why you can't get on the treadmill fatso, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO MOTIVATION! "

She kept going on and on, but then at the interview, she looked up at me and shook her head one last time.

She said  " I really wish you didn't have this paralegal certificate, it may really hurt your chances of getting this job, and I really have to work hard making it work. I hope they look beyond these things that are hurting your career. I will call you in the next few weeks with a follow up."

And then I left Olivia behind, as well as her Krispy Kreme donuts and Coffee ..


The Bottom line is this folks. If you decide to go to law school, get a paralegal certificate, get a masters in law or do anything in the legal profession, don't think it will "open doors" for you. It may actually shut doors, close them, and have the doors be slammed in your face.

You will have to justify to all non legal employers why you got a degree in something law related but you aren't working in the legal profession. So unless you really want to become a paralegal, lawyer, or work in the legal profession, don't pursue any sort of legal education unless thats the only field you really want to work in.

You may find yourself being shut out for jobs just because you made the poor choice of getting into the legal profession in the first place.

-The Poor Paralegal

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons and for potential non legal employment opportunities

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Think twice before going to a "For Profit College"

In a recent article by the Los Angeles Times, Liz Pulliam Weston answers financial questions for those who have debt from for profit college. You should be very careful when enrolling in these types of schools.

Some of these schools charge an enormous amount of money for tuition, promise students great jobs, but then fail to deliver and students are left with a mountain of debt.

Many local community colleges offer Paralegal programs for only $3,000-$6,000 dollars.

Be very careful and think twice before taking out $25,000 or more in loans from some no named private university when there are cheaper alternatives!

Just watch this movie...

Default: The Student Loan Documentary

Are Paralegals selling Cocaine to make ends meet?

I wonder why Any Paralegal would resort to selling Cocaine to students? Maybe they have student loans or they aren't getting paid enough? Are they trying to make ends meet?

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Craigslist Con Artists

I love Craigslist. It is one of the most amazing, insightful and useful websites around. I have found jobs, apartments, used cars, half empty bottles of cologne and even used furniture.

Craigslist is a great website for online classified and is a very good, scam free, and honest company.

However, many con artists abuse the "Jobs postings" section of Craigslist.

On Craigslist they even have a "prohibit" flag button that you can check when you find bogus employers, people using unethical practices in hiring, and the infamous con artists.

We all know who the con artists are on the job classifieds.

They are the ones who post "Now hiring! We need someone immediately. We offer $$$$$! Apply today!" and the salary for these positions are  always "TBD" or "competitive!"

Well one of these scammers fooled me. He had posted an advertisement on Craigslist looking for a Paralegal to work for his company and I sent my resume. He contacted me back and was thrilled that someone who knew accounting, finance and had a Paralegal degree could work for his company. We offer top dollar and we need you NOW!

I was so excited. I was finally going to get a job ...and so I went for the interview....this past friday..

I met the "CEO" in his office, a small unit with not much furniture or professional vibe in his office. He told me he loved my resume, credentials and wanted me to work with him to go ahead and draft pleadings, discovery, legal documents and contracts for his clients.

I said "Great! So I will be working under you, right? You are the supervising attorney who will be guiding me as a Paralegal?"  He was quiet.

He then said I would make big money, close to over $70,000 my first year working for him. I then asked him again "Well, I will be working under you? or another Attorney? Who is the attorney that will be supervising me?"

He said " Listen , there is no attorney here, but you are a paralegal..and I know you know how to draft these documents, and I am willing to hire you and pay you big bucks to do this job. Every once in a while you may have to meet with clients who are on the verge of losing their homes and giving them legal advice...its not a lot of work, but you can do it!"

After he said that, I politely asked "Where is the bathroom, and is there a key?" He said "No, there is no key...just down the hall and to the right.."

After he said that I picked up my resume folder and put my keys inside my suit pocket, I opened the office front door and I GOT THE HELL OUT OF THERE! I ran faster than Jackie Joyner Kersee at the 1988 Olympic Games...


I later got an e mail from this guy asking me what happend...and I politely told him "Buddy, I was born on a  Thursday, but I wasn't born yesterday. Have you ever heard of the unauthorized practice of law? Giving legal advice to people without a being an Attorney who is a member of the state Bar of California?"

And then he hung up...

This was a very valuable lesson for me and for all of you other Paralegals in Training.

Be very very Careful of an employer who wants you to work without the supervision of an Attorney or who wants you to give legal advice.

And if you ever see those employers posting on the classified ads...

Never forget to flag them...

Why did I decide to get my ABA certified Paralegal Certificate?

I graduated college in 2003 with my Bachelors degree in Economics and decided to join corporate America. I worked in various areas, including IT, sales and manufacturing. I was a victim of this horrible economic downturn and I worked for a big manufacturing firm in downtown Los Angeles.

My company went under and went out of business a year ago and I was laid off. The CEO was an attorney and he told me I should consider pursuing a legal career, so I decided to enroll in a Paralegal Program.

My blog will help all paralegal students and future paralegal students get an inside of the legal profession from an honest stand point. I will share my insight, experiences and follies in my quest to find employment. I will clarify the following...

1.) The realities of trying to get a job  in the paralegal profession
2.) Experiences from interviews, job postings and meeting legal recruiters
3.) Trying to find a non paralegal job with a paralegal certificate
4.) Most Paralegals DON'T earn $60,000 a year + like the employment statistics say they do..

This is my quest to hopefully  find employment, but until then..I am a Paralegal without a Paycheck!

These are the confessions of The Poor Paralegal..

The Poor Paralegal

I am writing this blog because I am a Poor Paralegal.

I recently lost my job in the "Great Recession" and now I am trying to tell others about the evils of the Legal Profession and that you should be very careful if you decide to do a Paralegal program.

There are no jobs out there and the employment figures are deceiving.

This is my quest to find employment as a Paralegal...