It's going pretty tough for paralegals out there and most would admit that. The recession force-changed the entire fabric of law practice and the work used to be done by paralegals is being sought by law students and out-of-work attorneys. In some cases attorneys are pushed to the wall and have to do without paralegals even they know the value of experienced legal assistance. That's one part of the scenario.
The other side of the coin:
On the other side, clients are less willing to part with their money more than ever before. And clients today do not want to pay an attorney for what could be done by a paralegal. Especially, in in-house positions, legal departments trust more a paralegal they are paying less-than-usual to an attorney they are paying less-than-usual. They know that the attorney would continuously be seeking alternatives to get out of the situation, while the paralegal would be continuously seeking ways to have his/her pay raised and keep the job.
The recession has been horrifying, and traditional job hunting techniques have become insufficient. Sending out resumes, cover letters, cold calls, attending interviews time and again keep yielding the same result – either you have too much experience or too little experience according to the recruiters. Mostly, recruiters are shaken themselves and do not know what to do in an economy with a sudden glut of job applicants and are hard pressed to decide among competing candidates.
Things to keep in mind during networking:
Networking is also important to find job openings quickly and gain emergency support for your family.
Some tips to follow while networking, especially in a down economy would be:
- Do not get exasperated, keep expectations low to reduce frustration levels
- Do not spend time and energy by running after everything. There are a lot of lawyers losing jobs and hanging out their shingles to try out solo – not all of them offer reliable job opportunities.
- At the end of the day a paralegal is seen as an administrative secretary who knows the law. Focusing on that identity can yield benefits.
- Talk with past clients of lawyers and law firms you had worked for. A person or company not in the business of law practice may offer better job security and be readier to take you in than law firms.
- Look at alternative job opportunities and global trans-locating. All the law firms and multinational companies are going to the ‘emerging economies.' What about you? Your skills might be greatly respected and paid for in any post-colonial economy that has English common law and jurisprudence as the backbone of its legal system.
- Talk with all lawyers with whom you had even a fleeting acquaintance – you never know when opportunities arise.
- Network with other paralegals to keep abreast of opportunities in the industry
- Get the word out to all family, friends and acquaintances – in case you are truly desperate. Otherwise it would be advisable to keep networking for a job only among professional contacts, except immediate family or very close friends or people who have a reputation of personal integrity.
- Do not fall for scammers – in the recession, and a down economy, learn to take every opportunity with a grain of salt. There are many senior paralegals out there who have been conned time and again on the promise of a full-time job only to find out that the “full-time job” was a bait to get his/her expertise for preparing something.
- Do keep in mind that ‘permanent' jobs are a fallacy, but all jobs are temporary, and welcome.
The traditional methods of job hunting work in as much as they make the job easy for the recruiter to either decide for or against you. The resume and cover letter, as well as your presentation in interviews, all sums up to assist the recruiter make his/her decision. And in a down economy, such decisions are rarely favorable. Networking is important for a change, because done right it can make the job of the recruiter easier by focusing on how to justify recruiting ‘you.' The biggest task in recruitment decision-making, – whether a candidate can be trusted or not, – is already taken care of by networking before the interview.
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LawCrossing was a great website to use. There were enough job listings for anyone to find a suitable job.
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