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Paralegal or law school mama's? - Page 2

post #21 of 25

Do NOT get a law degree online.  To be a licensed attorney you have to graduate from an accredited school (except some states like Cali, but not very many people pass that beast of a bar exam - and VERY few from a non-accredited program pass), and I'm not sure how you would learn what you needed to learn through an online program.  It's SUPER intense, the first year is KILLER (don't expect to see your family much that year unless you are brilliant), and I would not have survived without the real support of classmates in person. 

 

I was single my first year, had a baby in the middle of my second year, split with my BF my third year and became a single mom to a 10mo, and then graduated one semester late, and got LUCKY and landed my dream job.  It was NOT easy, and at times it was pure TORTURE.  If you don't have TONS of family support (I don't know how old your children are), its a really tough road - and my family was 3,000miles away, so I didn't have much help. 

 

I would not go to law school if I could do it over again, even though it did land me my dream job (but I'm not going to practice, it was just an alumni connection that landed me a policy position).

post #22 of 25

I am not a mother, but am a new lawyer looking to start a family.  Law school is insanely difficult and if you did not have a full time nanny or a significant other at home to take care of your children for a good 4-5 hours a day while you study and do homework, i'm not sure you could make it work in law school.  There are many schools that will let you go part time, but each class is very time consuming - for example, even if you're a fast reader, it will take up to an hour to read 10 pages, and most classes have 30-80 pages of reading each week.  So i fyou were part time and taking 2 classes, at the school i went to classes were 3 hours each, then the homework on top of that would be a minimum of 8 hours of reading - and this is not including studying for finals, which is additional work in memorizing and doing practice tests.  Also, like many have already mentioned, it is not a great market right now for attorneys - I know many people that I graduated with who are up to their necks in student loans and not employed in the legal field.  I am only making 1/2 of what my firm pays associates, because i was hired in at a different title than "associate" - no difference other than in pay. 

 

Prior to going to law school I was a paralegal and had been a legal secretary.  I would strongly suggest going this route.  As a paralegal you get to do a lot of the same "fun" work, but you have none of the liability and a fraction of the student loans/school time commitment.  Also, as a paralegal working for the goverment, I was making just $10k less than what I make now, had great benefits, and never worked overtime.  Start as a paralegal and see if it's for you, when your children are a bit older you can look again at going to law school, maybe the economy will be back on the up then too and it would be more worth your time. 

 

good luck!

post #23 of 25

I forgot to add - if you need to move every 3 years, unless you are working in Federal court or as an intellectual property law attorney (patents, trademarks), you will need to either take the bar exam or be admitted under that state's requirments for every state you move to. 

post #24 of 25

I forgot to add - if you need to move every 3 years, unless you are working in Federal court or as an intellectual property law attorney (patents, trademarks), you will need to either take the bar exam or be admitted under that state's requirments for every state you move to. 

post #25 of 25

Hi,

 

Thanks for posting this question. I have been wondering about law school, too. It would be a very long shot in my case, since I have a career I like and am just looking for "add-on" legal studies/experience to boost the career I already have. This thread has certainly given me pause!

 

Currently, I am enrolled in a paralegal certificate program through my local community college. Just to compare the cost - I pay about $250 per class plus maybe $200 for (used) books for each class, and the program requires 8 classes (4 requirements, 4 electives), so the entire certificate will cost me roughly $3,600. In my case, I plan to take more electives, so it might be $4,800 or so, but at that amount, I can pay as I go. Some of the women in my class are career-changers and have gotten scholarships, so it can even be less. I just looked up another university in town that offers a paralegal program, and theirs costs about $10,000 - still a good deal. Online classes are not for me, I need the personal interaction, which has been very rewarding. If you will be looking for a job in the field, don't discount the networking opportunities, either, since after all, the lecturers are lawyers themselves.

 

I have a master's degree in another field, and I have to say that in no way is this program a walk in the park just because it is a certificate or at a community college, so I wouldn't be concerned about not being challenged just because it's not a JD. While challenging, it is do-able at one class at a time while I am working about 20-30 hrs./wk. plus taking care of a family (2 school-age children) & our activities. I would have to give up an activity (I teach in a kids' program on Saturdays) or make other childcare arrangements to take more classes than that. In general, the research and writing is very interesting. I was surprised to learn what schiljm said above - even if you are used to reading academic material, reading court opinions and similar material takes a *long* time. You definitely need to carve out chunks of quiet time for the reading. I find it easy to work with background noise otherwise, but I find that I can't tolerate very much noise at all while reading legal stuff.

 

Maybe the lawyers here can comment more authoritatively on the job prospects for paralegals, but I have heard that more work is being handed over to paralegals to do simply because they are cheaper than lawyers, but I don't know that from personal experience.

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