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Legal Staffers Sound Off


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I am in great need of help as far as how to go about landing a job. I have a J.D./M.BA., but I have not taken the bar and do not have much job experience. I have decided that I am going to put all of my effort into landing a position as a police officer. I don't really care where I end up. However, I need to make at least $45-50K. Do you have any suggestions?
Joe C.

Being a police officer can be a very rewarding career, albeit not one you may have expected to seek after your J.D./M.B.A. If you'd like to pursue employment that is more traditionally associated with your education but do not want to take the bar, I'd suggest you highlight your M.B.A. degree and offer your J.D. as a bonus to employers. Every business needs someone who can understand the law. Good positions for you would be in law firm administration, risk management, contract administration and human resources. Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes!

I have a law degree and lots of experience. However, I just found out that I did not pass the February bar exam. I am frustrated, and I do not want to practice law anymore. My current job was contingent on my passing the bar exam. Since I have not passed the exam, my job is terminated. I have worked in all sectors of the law - government, firms, courts, legislature, etc. What options do I have in the legal staff field?
Karen L., Disappointed J.D.

I'll be honest with you: Law firms tend to shy away from hiring lawyers as legal staff. The bar exam puts a stamp of approval on your J.D. but essentially by education you are already an attorney, and you'll have some trouble convincing legal employers that you want to work as legal staff and will not abandon them after a subsequent, successful experience with the bar exam. I would suggest this, try legal staff placement agencies. They will work with you, and you may well be able to get your foot in the door. Eventually your employers will be able to see that you are serious about a career in the legal staff field.

I am a paralegal. I just want some clarification as to the terms paralegal and legal assistant. Legal secretaries are sometime called legal assistants. Thanks in advance for clearing this up.


Carina Z.

A paralegal is more of a professional designation; it is defined by the ABA as a person who can assist an attorney in all aspects of the law, provided he or she works under an attorney. However there are two kinds of paralegals, certified and non-certified. The net tends to be cast wide in terms of what paralegals actually end up doing at specific firms. A legal secretary can also be certified but would more likely do things like managing files or correspondence rather than substantive legal work. Legal assistant is a rather vague term; it can refer to an office assistant, a case assistant, or junior J.D.

I double majored in political science and accounting. I know accounting definitely has a legal side to it with tax and business law. But I need some concrete ideas how to apply what I learned and package myself appropriately for a career in law-related accounting.
Joan C.

Law firms certainly use accountants for various jobs, including general office accounts, managing client accounts, paying their employees, etc., so there is certainly a market here that you can work with. I would suggest a skills-based resume highlighting what you can do in terms of what processes and software you are familiar with. If you know any accounting programs used by law firms, make sure you highlight those on your resume.
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