Friday, May 23, 2008

Legal Advice

Ha! Not really ... I am NOT a licensed attorney!

I think this page does a good job really outlining some different perspectives on legal careers.
Even in a saturated market, there is a demand for quality attorneys with specific experience: patent, medical malpractice, and bankruptcy are always in demand. I can't imagine working BK, but that's just me.
Then it's easy enough to run the mathematical calculations: Most law students and beginning attorney's I have worked with graduate with $120k in loans. They aren't really able to work much to offset their loans because the internship requirements are so stringent. Starting pay for our superstars ranged from that $30k average (that's the CA stat: first year attorney starting wage) up to $72k ... but that $72 k took a year to come along, and in the meantime he was clerking for $20 an hour. So you're also looking at 3 years of school plus up to a year for a decent job offer.
Paralegal programs run about $6500 and take 14 - 16 weeks. You can graduate, work in legal field for $45k - $60k (I have received offers in that range so know it's reasonable in today's market.) Paralegals are in high demand. Working as a paralegal not only gives one experience in the legal field but also will help you get the better jobs after law school, allowing one to rise to the top of the new market field.
I suppose it's worth mentioning that law school does NOTHING to prepare one as to how to be an attorney. It doesn't even get you ready for the bar exam. It simply marks you as qualifed to take the exam ... just about everyone takes a Bar Exam Prep Course in order to actually pass the thing (chalk up another $5k.) In Jim's office, he took 3rd year law students who were the top of their classes and taught them how to actually get the work done as an attorney must. Students who graduate with a less spectacular intern experience are simply not ready to practice - that's why that starting salary is so low ... they simply aren't able to do much of anything that first year without proper experience!
You can see how that paralegal experience would certainly help increase employability ... as man have said, it's how they learned to practice law because paralegal programs are oriented to teach HOW TO ... law school focuses more upon the historical WHY.