If you hate your paralegal job and are exploring other career opportunities, I really like this list (even though it is a few years old) that was posted on the Practical Paralegalism blog: http://www.practicalparalegalism.com/2009/05/listserv-answer-what-else-can-you-do.html
If you have read my book, then you know that there was really only one viable long-term answer for me, and that was to become my own boss. Find a business you love and grow it. You can find yourself in a paralegal job that is tolerable, but that isn’t what life is supposed to be. We should be thriving and growing in all aspects of our life.
My experience in the field led me to the conclusion that being a paralegal was a dead-end job for me. I understand that not everyone feels that way, and it probably has a lot to do with personality traits. I have seen a lot of lawyers over the years who view paralegals as servants instead of valued professionals who have intelligent perspectives to bring to each case. Unfortunately, my experience is that a majority of lawyers and firms want to exploit their paralegals into working five jobs at once. You must at all times be able to switch between being a receptionist, waitress, travel agent, administrative assistant, and paralegal. This is just exhausting. Making the mental switch between different roles and tasks while under constant performance pressure to complete actual case work is just not a livable situation.
Paralegals as a group of people are highly capable, organized, and helpful creatures. But, just because we are capable of doing five jobs at once does not mean that we want that, or that it is actually the most efficient way to use us for generating profits and helping clients. It’s sad, actually. To have a pile of case files in front of you with a list of substantive work to complete, and to have to mentally fight to concentrate to accomplish the smallest thing because your boss needs you to answer his phone, book his plane tickets, and schedule a deposition. Then, at the end of the day, he will bless you out because you didn’t get the draft discovery responses to him before he left for his 4:00 pre-dinner cocktail hour.
I have heard some transition stories from a few people who have been able to become executive assistants. However, the ultimate outcome was the same as far as what happens when you just pick another psychopath to work for (you are just choosing a different type of hell). Psychopath lawyer vs. psychopath CEO. Pretty much the only difference is the size of their private jet, but you probably aren’t going to be on it, anyway.
As a litigation paralegal I collected a ton of experience setting trials, hearings, settlement conferences and depositions, and scheduling medical appointments for our clients. I applied for an appointment-setting job with a hospital, feeling confident that I offered strong transferable skills for that job. No response.
My paralegal school had sold us on the notion that title insurance companies appreciate paralegals. I learned a lot about real property (real estate) as an estate planning paralegal. I really enjoyed the work. I collected real experience preparing deeds, deeds of trust, and real estate buy/sell contracts. I applied to twenty title companies. No response – and this was on the bleeding edge of the foreclosure crisis. I also applied for vehicle title clerk jobs, believing I offered transferable skills from my real property work. No one else shared my belief, apparently.
Paralegal and legal assistants collect many excellent skills, including telephone, customer/client service, organizing, event planning, schedule management, writing, document analyzing and, last but not least, crisis management. But the problem is no one outside the legal field is interested in these skills – unless you want to count insurance companies who feel these skills well qualify one to peddle their products.