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Political Views Play Role in Paralegal Search

published February 08, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
Published By
( 4 votes, average: 4.1 out of 5)
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Seeking a paralegal job, you have to weigh the importance of practice area in determining the kind of work you get and the levels of responsibility to which you might rise. For instance, certain practice areas lend themselves to large documentation, while others present you with more client contact. We have not yet discussed how personal politics or viewpoints might affect your hiring. While no one should ask your political allegiance or party affiliation, there is something to note as you conduct your job search campaign. Out there in the rough and tumble of the law, political point of view plays a role.

While a paralegal's personal beliefs are officially unimportant, they can disqualify themselves in interviews by making remarks that fall on the "wrong side of the fence." A naive applicant should avoid making comments about practice areas and plaintiff vs. defendant issues until that applicant discovers:

  1. Does the firm handle only Plaintiffs?
  2. Is this a Defense firm?
  3. Does this firm handle both sides?

The truth is that most paralegals keep their personal politics and philosophies to themselves so that they can remain employable and economically viable. Some get uncomfortable doing one kind of work (Plaintiff or Defense), and then quietly work their way toward a firm where things are more congenial to their mindset.

Plaintiff and defense: There are some paralegals who by life-style, fashion, and general demeanor consciously align themselves politically, declaring to everyone where their sentiments lie. That is fine as long as applicants are aware of their conduct and only want to work in a certain area of the law. The challenge for most of us who want to have broad acceptability is to look as neutral and sound as unaligned as possible when writing and interviewing.

Those who come into the legal world with the word "environmental" on their lips are generally speaking philosophically of one side, and do not realize that many "environmental" jobs are on the other.

There are two sides to the practice area called "criminal": defense and prosecution. Some people will work both sides, and some will only work for the district attorney. Others' sympathies come down on the defense side. Defense firms are so named because they generally represent large corporations, insurance companies, and "deep pocket" clients (a common term for wealth). A lawsuit generally comes about because deep pockets have been discovered. A Plaintiffs firm is in business to take up the cause of a smaller company or an individual or group of individuals who feel they have been wronged in some way. This is the simplest of pictures to describe what happens in this adversarial system we have constructed.

You as the singular applicant do not have to learn an elaborate coded language or understand these dynamics at their
most sophisticated level. You only need to appear as "un-political" as possible and be able to handle some questions.

You may get questions like:
  1. How do you feel about working for a criminal defense firm?
  2. If you've had nursing experience, how do you feel about defending doctors?
  3. Our firm is full of activists and we take on churches and large corporations. How do you feel about that?

Wolf in sheep's clothing

The hiring of a new paralegal brings a professional into a team in the middle of adversarial contests. The team concept is implicit in your job description. The firm wants to feel you will be a part of the team. In the intense competition for available openings, the applicant who appears the most sympathetic, or even the most innocuous and neutral, is probably going to be considered and hired over a person who creates some doubt about his or her polarities. You do not need to play a cheerleader game either. Do not attempt to be more ardent than the already ardent. The best image is that of professionalism, neutrality, and objectivity. Sympathy for "our side" is a natural process that will arise in any effort after you are hired and going to trial. Do not drum up sentiments you do not have. The main goal is not to look like a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

Mind you, if you disguise your true sentiments about something in order to get hired, and then you spout off continually about it, you will probably end up unemployed anyway. Under the umbrella of professionalism is a smaller word-discretion. If you have this quality as you employ your opening moves and use job strategies, you will surely benefit yourself.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.

published February 08, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 4 votes, average: 4.1 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.