Today, it’s a matter of dollars and sense.
By Chere B. Estrin
Are you happy in your job? Would you like to be happier?
I have never witnessed a job market quite like this one. Honest, I haven’t. It’s a circus out there. Law firms and in-house legal departments are coming at us with request upon request upon request (ok, you get it) for corporate paralegals all over the country. Staffing agencies are turning business away.
Live in Los Angeles but the job is in Chicago? No problem. As long as you are near a satellite office, you are good to go. Want 100% remote? Well, that’s a bit of a problem because there are few but there sure as heck are a ton of hybrid positions – work 2 days in the office and 3 days remote. Live the good life. Pick your kids up on time, have dinner with your spouse. What a concept.
In its’ efforts to grab good candidates, law firms are offering hiring bonuses, retention bonuses, extra perks, two weeks’ vacation before you get to the job, pet insurance (I don’t know why that tickles me), work lifestyle balance, remote, hybrid and onsite positions, and (drum roll please), salaries that are at least 10-20% higher than pre-COVID for the same job. And here’s a little known secret: law firms are throwing money at legal staffing organizations by giving them 10-30 % more in fees so they get preferential treatment. Trust me, while it’s nice, most agencies didn’t ask for that. If they can’t find candidates, no amount of excess fees will help.
The Great Resignation is not an accurate description of what’s going on here. It’s more like the Great Reshuffle or my favorite term, CAREER RELOAD. However, people who say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”, and suddenly resign their positions, are going to find themselves without money in the not too distant future. More importantly, they will have a tough time getting back into the workforce as unemployed candidates are no where near as desirable as those who are working.
So, what’s causing the flood of open roles? Tremendous amounts of mergers & acquisitions, corporate restructuring, but high on the list is corporate lawyers are experiencing a surge in work due to the coronavirus as companies seek ways to back out of contracts or prevent deals from falling apart. Lawyers have indicated they were experiencing increases in calls and client queries of 25 per cent or more as a result of legal issues stemming from the outbreak. Large international law firms say their lawyers are fielding calls from clients with disrupted supply chains or mergers and acquisitions that were under threat. Elsewhere, companies are revising M&A documents to prevent acquirers from backing out of deals by excluding the virus from so-called material adverse change clauses.
How does that affect you as a corporate paralegal? Maybe you woke up one day and realized that you weren’t going to make partner. Perhaps you came into the office and were shocked when you figured out that you were going to do basically the same thing you did yesterday with a slight twist – same story, different client.
You don’t have to be unhappy or miserable to move on. Think of a move as your career strategy. Jobs are not marriages – at some point, you leave. The best way to leverage and strategize your career is by moving to another firm. In many firms, a paralegal is a paralegal is a paralegal – no career growth.
So when is it a good strategic time to move on? Now, while firms are paying tons of money, jobs are plenty and upward movement, work lifestyle balance and hybrid positions are abundant. Not to be a Negative Nancy, however, the job market always swings back and forth. At some point, depending upon a number of factors including inflation, recession, and god forbid, war, and more, the job market is going to swing back and there you are, wishing you had made the move earlier.
The corporate paralegal role has gotten much more sophisticated. Instead of a general corporate maintenance paralegal – prepare minutes, due diligence, closing binders, UCCs, firms are now asking for corporate paralegals with finance, private equity, securities, life sciences, technology, experience. It’s gotten very specialized. However, these are the paralegals that are making big bucks. Yes, BIG bucks. We have firms that are paying anywhere from $100,000 – $195.000 for rock stars. (I only had one firm offer $195,000, however, $175,000 is not uncommon.) To get these great jobs, you really have to know your stuff. You literally work at the associate level.
What would entice you to leave: Here are just a few reasons:
- You are really happy where you are. However, how long has it been since you have been challenged with a new and exciting assignment that teaches you a whole new set of skills?
- The firm touts work life/style balance but you really did work 70 hours last week.
- A hybrid position would be great. At this point, your firm is waffling as to whether it is going to go back to the office full-time. The dates for re-entry constantly change and no one is sure what will happen.
- Truthfully, you are paid under market. Sure, you are having a nice time. However, think of your financial future.
- It sure would be nice to have a few more perks and a real team atmosphere.
- Moving to a top AmLaw 100 firm would do wonders for your career. It’s like having Harvard, Stanford, Yale on the resume. With that, doors will open just about everywhere.
- There is no upward movement. How long can you go being a Sr. Paralegal with nowhere to go?
- Anyone staying more than 9-10 years in one position is not always as desirable as you think. Employers think there is no motivation for growth.
- You want to be a “Star” in your field. Is your current firm going to give you that? Most likely, ain’t gonna happen. Not here.
- Was this where you thought you would be five years ago? If that’s a no, why not?
So, check out these jobs. My mother used to tell me that “Just because they ask you to dance, doesn’t mean you have to dance.” Explore the market. See what’s out there. I guarantee, you are going to be pleasantly surprised. (Please note: 99% of all firms are requiring a vaccination and booster.)
Awesome Corporate Jobs:
CORPORATE PARALEGAL – IN-HOUSE – Public Company – Beverly Hills, CA
An in-house position with a fast-food conglomerate in Beverly Hills that is hybrid with an occasional visit to the office. Work with the GC In sophisticated assignments. Experience real work/lifestyle balance. Work with the nicest people. Get this: they will pay up to $120,000 plus overtime, and stock options. Yes, stock options. Who does that?
CORPORATE PARALEGAL – AmLaw 10 Firm – Offices around the country
This AmLaw 10 firm (top 10 global firm in the US) is one of the richest in the country. Resources are not a problem. They offer you a structured paralegal program designed to move you up the ladder with increased challenging responsibilities, titles and salary. You can work remotely near a satellite office. They need paralegals with private equity, securities, finance, life sciences, technology background. However, you just may have the right background. Their salaries go up to $160,000 (could go more for the right candidate) plus hiring bonus, year-end bonus, great benefits, breakfast in some offices, and my all time favorite, pet insurance.
CORPORATE/REAL ESTATE PARALEGAL – Very nice entertainment/civil litigation firm – Los Angeles, CA
It’s not a huge firm, it’s not a small firm. This very nice mid-size firm with over 60 attorneys with high-profile cases. This is a firm for a paralegal who wants to do a good job and be a paralegal. The firm’s managing partner is one of the most well-known women entertainment lawyers in the country. We’re sure you will have a lot of fun. The firm will pay a hiring and year-end bonus, they don’t work excessively hard and it’s just a nice place to be. Salary: to $100,000 plus great benefits and work/lifestyle balance atmosphere.
CORPORATE PARALEGAL Investment corporation – Chicago, IL
Here’s one of those coveted in-house paralegal positions for a small legal department with great teamwork and very low turnover. This company has a collaborative, friendly team, work well together, and is very different than private equity firms. The professionals here are down to earth, have low egos, an open door. Their senior founders have been extremely successful. You’ll get an extra week off between Christmas and New Year’s and that does not include your vacation. There’s little overtime and they offer a robust health benefits package, 401 (K) 6%, contribution, 12 PTO holiday days, in addition to an excellent target bonus. Salary is approximately $130,000 plus possible hiring bonus.
CORPORATE PARALEGAL – Send your resume for other positions
You just never know what great positions come in almost daily. Send your resume with a brief description of what your ideal job is – your hopes, wants, dreams and desires. We will reach out to you. Even if you are not currently seeking a position, don’t wait until the last minute when this fantastic market ends.
Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a well-recognized nationwide staffing organization based in California. She is the President of the Organization of Legal Professionals. Chere was recently interviewed by Wall Street Journal & Fortune Magazine (www.estrinreport.com) and has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. Her blog, The Estrin Report, has been around since 2005. Chere is a recipient of LAPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. She is a former administrator in an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at: email@example.com.