A paralegal posted a common question to one of the LinkedIn groups: “Am I absolutely out of my mind trying to find paralegal work, with no experience yet, only certification, and entering law school in the fall? Not exactly the ideal situation for a lot of hiring companies, apparently.”
Naturally, I had to put in my $.25.
No one who is seeking further education is out of their minds! That being said, looking
for a job and intending to go to law school can present a problem for most law firms. These challenges center around time, money and disruptions.
There are two types of hiring: career paralegals and transitional. Those who are career paralegals have selected this field with the intent of staying in it. Those that are considered transitional
will work with the intent of moving on to another position outside of the paralegal job. They use the position as a bridge to somewhere else.
Transitional paralegal jobs are more prevalent in some parts of the country. There are major firms such as Skadden Arps and a few others who have established a job category directly aimed at the transitional paralegal. The position requires little or no experience and seeks those who only need to devote 18 – 24 months to the firm. These folks are on their way to grad school or law school. The majority of transitional hiring firms are located in New York, with a few in San Francisco and Chicago.
My suggestion is not tell your potential employer that you are on your way to somewhere else and stopping in for a look-see. Employers may hesitate to hire you because of the significant investment they will lose when you leave in training, recruitment, and then re-recruitment expenses in a short period of time. They may also think that you will be seeking a job as an attorney at that firm and that may not be possible. Meanwhile, you may be of the belief that telling a potential employer you're going to law school somehow increases your chances of getting hired. Think again.
Frankly, what you do in your own time, as long as you get the work done, is your business. The action of entering law school has not yet happened – even if you have been accepted to the finest school in the country. Right now, it’s in the future, perhaps a dream, possibly a nebulous goal but definitely not yet a reality. There are a whole host of things that may happen between now and the time you do enter law school. The fact is, some paralegals with law school intentions end up not going for whatever reasons. One of which is they love the paralegal career – another is, ‘lo and behold, after looking around and gaining first-hand experience, it slowly dawns that life as an attorney is not exactly as Law & Order makes it out to be. Hmmm….imagine that.