Don't Become A Paralegal


 
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 Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)

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Michelle
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PostSubject: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:00 pm

This forum is dedicated to informing those thinking about getting into the paralegal field. Point-blank: don't do it (at least not in San Diego anyhow). Although this forum is going to begin with the particularly troubled San Diego market, people are encouraged to start threads about their geographic market and the troubles that might be present there.

Note: More specifically, this forum is intended to responsibly inform people about the bleak prospectus of becoming and staying a paralegal due to the lack of entry level jobs, unstable legal market, rigidity in the legal job market, etc. It is meant to help people to not make a bad economic career decision. It is intended as commentary on what this forum poster has seen in the last six years and what others have seen during that time and before, and it is not meant to include the obvious dip in opportunities that have been felt due to the recent recession which is obviously occuring somewhat accross the board thoughout most industries.

Please post any relevant information you have to offer.
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Michelle
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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:03 pm

To get the ball rolling:

San Diego has too many paralegal programs and therefore an overcrowded market. There are far too few entry level jobs to support even half of graduates (that includes hybrid legal secretary/paralegal positions).

The list of all San Diego schools offering paralegal programs is:

Cuyamaca (ABA Approved)
Maric
Miramar (ABA Approved)
Palomar
San Diego City
Southwestern
UCSD (ABA Approved)
USD (ABA Approved)


Last edited by Michelle on Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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CrystalG



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:34 am

Hi Michelle thanks for inviting me to this forum, this was a great idea, and I do have some things to add!

1) In San Diego it takes at least two years experience as a paralegal to become a paralegal. Job openings willing to consider those with less than two years experience only account for about 10% of the total job openings.

and

2) San Diego's legal market has become well known for its cronieism. It is a difficult market for lawyers and paralegals in this way, especially geographic outsiders.
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Britney



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:47 pm

I got a paralegal certificate from an ABA approved program, and I searched for a job for 8 months hardcore before I finally basically gave up. After that I applied to paralegal jobs off and on for about two more years, but nothing ever came of it. What a waste of time.
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Charles76



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:53 pm

I completely agree, the San Diego legal market is too unstable. I was layed off three times in four years from firms going out of business or downsizing. The last time may have been influenced by the recession. The instability should be priced into paralegal salaries. But guess what, it's not.


Last edited by Charles76 on Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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paralegalpro



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:47 pm

You guys have hit the nail on the head, it is a sad state of affairs. Given what I've seen over the last few years, I feel very lucky to have ever landed a paralegal job in San Diego. I went to USD's paralegal program which is supposed to be the most respected one in San Diego, and in the three years since graduating from the program I'd say I've ran into about half of the people who I was in the program with and most of them said that they never even became paralegals. scratch
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Fredi O



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:53 pm

I've been on this site a couple times and just thought of something to add.

Nearly all law firms are only willing to hire people experienced in the certain sector that they have an open position for. Hence this makes a person only open to future job openings in sectors in which they have experience, further narrowing their prospects for future employment and mobility. One could wait months to see a job posting that they could even be considered for. I've worked in a couple other markets throughout the years and I would say this is generally true about the paralegal profession.


Last edited by Fredi O on Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Charles76



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:09 pm

So... as I said I've been layed off three times in the last four years, if I were to apply to one of these bankruptcy paralegal positions would I just get layed off in a couple years when that type of work is gone?
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Michelle
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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:52 pm

Charles76 wrote:
So... as I said I've been layed off three times in the last four years, if I were to apply to one of these bankruptcy paralegal positions would I just get layed off in a couple years when that type of work is gone?

Who knows, but that sounds like a wise forethought. Go for it. It's better than nothing if you can't find something more stable. And if you get such a job, from day one be looking for something more foreseeably stable. And if at all possible, think about providing for the future and the grand scheme of things by trying to do what everyone else I talk to is trying to do: GET OUT OF THE PARALEGAL FIELD while you can still put food on the table.
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natfj



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:51 pm

ha! if you want to be a paralegal in San Diego then get used to taking the bus
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Fredi O



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:05 pm

Excuse me if the following is a rant, but I think it's true nonetheless. If a high school teacher that works year round makes $48,000 with great benefits and pension and is considered grossly underpaid, then what would a paralegal who makes under $48,000 a year with minimal benifits and no pension be considered in the stressful and supposedly lucrative legal market. Teachers have bachelor's degrees and one year teaching credentials. There seems to be a two year requirement to become a paralegal and/or be paid a remotely fair wage. After one gets their two years experience, no paralegal with a BA/BS degree and a paralegal certficate should be content with making a cent less than a state paid teacher when a paralegals work for highly profitable law firms.
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JY



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:21 pm

I was laid off 5 months ago. I have 8 years of experience and I have had a couple job offers in the last 5 months, but the companies did not want to pay the going rate. So I would not even call them legitamate offers. Does a job posting asking for salary requirements and or salary history = not willing to pay the going rate? What does everyone think?
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JY



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:22 pm

Two year requirement? A couple of you have cited that there is a 2 years experience as a paralegal requirement to become a paralegal. I'd say several years ago there was a 2 year requirement. But now the requirement is 5 years and firms can get away with requiring that much experience in a given specialty because there is that much of an abundance of paralegals that they can set the requirement at 5 years. And that's the case all over California. In 2 years from now the status quo requirement will be 7 years experience. Does anyone ever check these boards, what do you guys think about my previous post about salary history?
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S.Ericson



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Sun Sep 27, 2009 3:42 pm

JY wrote:
Two year requirement? A couple of you have cited that there is a 2 years experience as a paralegal requirement to become a paralegal. I'd say several years ago there was a 2 year requirement. But now the requirement is 5 years and firms can get away with requiring that much experience in a given specialty because there is that much of an abundance of paralegals that they can set the requirement at 5 years. And that's the case all over California. In 2 years from now the status quo requirement will be 7 years experience. Does anyone ever check these boards, what do you guys think about my previous post about salary history?

I don't know I still see the two year requirement every once in a while, but I think that you're right the 5 year requirement is the overwhelming status quo now. And in the great rarity that you see an entry level position it's always for $10-12 an hour. Never anymore than $15.
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S.Ericson



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:03 pm

JY wrote:
I was laid off 5 months ago. I have 8 years of experience and I have had a couple job offers in the last 5 months, but the companies did not want to pay the going rate. So I would not even call them legitamate offers. Does a job posting asking for salary requirements and or salary history = not willing to pay the going rate? What does everyone think?

My friend and I were just talking about this same thing the other day regarding employer's asking for salary history in a job post or what you made at your last job(s) in an interview. He sent me over some information. He believes, and has convinced me that you need to take these people to task when they ask such an irrelevant question. At the very least you need to tell them that it's personal or confidential. Here's what he sent me as some examples of how to take these people to task:

In an interview where you are asked: What did you make at your last job?:

Why do you ask?

If they reply as a basis for what you should be paid for this position then asK: What does one have to do with the other? Isn't it more appropriate to pay someone based on the position at hand and someone's actual credentials?

then:

Would you use that information to disqualify someone based on them having made more in the past then you are willing to pay, without understanding their willingness to take a smaller amount that would be more appropriate for the position at hand? Would you use that information to try to extort someone into taking an unfairly low salary based on them being paid low in the past? Do you think the average Joe would be comfortable working for a company that wants to extort people? Heck, I know I'd be down right emabarrased to work for a company that tries to extort people.

or

For instance, I'm certainly not going to let someone extort me into taking an unfairly low salary on the basis of what I made in the past. And I certainly don't want to work for a company that wants to extort people. Likewise I wouldn't want to be automatically disqualified because I made too much in the past, if I were willing to take a lower amount that would be more appropriate for the position at hand.

In reply to a job posting asking for salary history :

In response to your request for salary history, I am curious as to why you ask this question, and I would greatly appreciate your feedback. What is the relevancy of this question? If it is for a basis of what the particular responding candidate should be paid if offered the position, is it not more appropriate to pay someone based on the position at hand and someone's actual credentials? Would you use this information to disqualify someone based on them having made more in the past then you are willing to pay, without understanding their willingness to take a smaller amount that would be more appropriate for the position at hand? Would you use this information to try to extort someone into taking an unfairly low salary based on them being paid low in the past? Do you think the average Joe would be comfortable working for a company that wants to extort people? Would you use the collective information of all applicants salary histories many of which had differing past job titles and leave out the consideration of a multitude of other relevant factors and credentials. If that is your purpose for asking for salary history, then that would be the antithesis of anything resembling a scientific approach. Might I suggest salary.com. The people at salary.com have already done the research based on similar positions.

Asking for salary history absolutey should be frowned upon. The only way things are going to change is if everyone starts taking a stand against employers who ask for salary history. So you can be part of the problem or part of the solution.

In regards to a job posting asking for salary requirements, that is a very good thing. And regardless of whether someone asked for that info to be included in your cover letter or not you should ask what the job is being offered at before accepting an interview or you could just be wasting each other's time by going through with an interview someplace that isn't willing to pay a fair amount.

Here's some more good information on these subjects:

http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/faqsalary1.htm
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*****



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PostSubject: Re: Don't Become A Paralegal (San Diego)   Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:22 pm

San Diego firms only hire from ABA approved programs. This is understandable given the overwhelming number of graduates to choose from, I just wish someone had told me before I started at a program that was not ABA approved.
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