Hate Your Paralegal Job? What Other Fields Can Provide an Escape?

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.


Categories: Paralegal | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Hate Your Paralegal Job? What Other Fields Can Provide an Escape?

  1. 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.

    • Yes, one of the saddest parts about this field is that in order to be successful you do acquire so much knowledge and critical thinking skills. You become a person who can figure anything out, perform under constant deadline pressure, and come up with creative ways to solve problems and get documents or answers. Unfortunately, people outside of the legal field don’t understand that, and so when you decide to apply for project management jobs in a real company with a real growth track, you can’t get a call back. Because they don’t understand how a paralegal can transition into a real business.

      It takes a special type of Type “B” personality to be satisfied in a dead-end job. I don’t care about all of the stories I hear about the few who climb to Administrator and or Paralegal Manager jobs. Inside a law firm, if you are not a partner, you are in a dead-end job. It’s just a waste of time to stay in too long if you are the type of person who wants to do something with your life. If you are happy with a group of people deciding what you are worth (a group of people who hate you, by the way. Isn’t their primary function to get a competent person to do the job as cheaply as possible? Isn’t this directly in conflict with your goal to do excellent work and be rewarded for your abilities and contributions?) and knowing that you will never rise to a position where you can actually have an impact on anything, then paralegal is for you. Just shut up and gather the records. If you can’t get the records, you are a useless moron to me.

      • Of course it is a dead end job. Paralegal is and always will be a support position to attorneys. Paralegals can rise to management, but, still, they will still report to attorneys. Paralegals can never partner with attorneys in law firm ownership because attorneys’ rules of ethics bar co-ownership with nonlawyers; of course the conflicts of interest are apparent.

        Some paralegals who go independent may think they are escaping being under attorneys’ thumbs. Not quite IMO – they still depend on attorneys giving them work for their livelihoods. Along with that they take on the problems and responsibilities of running businesses. Maybe the only positive is they can turn down work from attorneys they loathe.

      • Sofia Lauren

        I can totally relate to everything you are saying! I left a well paying paralegal job where I moved up to supervisor. I loathed going into work everyday and eventually quit without having another a job lined up – crazy I know, but I couldn’t handle the extremely toxic environment and disrespectful partner who thought he was god and constantly thought his “jokes” were not insults. I’m now still in a paralegal role and still searching for a new career.

  2. everythingyougave

    I feel like I have a B personality but doesn’t mean I dont want professional recognition autonomy at work, and advancement. I just don’t bite other paralegals heads off like some, lol. Unfortunately attorneys often respond to aggressive abrasive personalities such as themselves, so Im often getting chewed up and spit out, and after awhile one’s self esteem starts to suffer, therefore perpetuating a vicious cycle

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