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Career Alternatives for Paralegals

published February 25, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
Published By
( 197 votes, average: 4.2 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.
No matter where you are in your career or what field you're in, there are ways you can improve your career. There are many career alternatives available in almost every field. Look at your skills: languages, research ability, supervisory experience, knowledge of various industries. Where are they used? As a paralegal you might easily transfer to a company doing business within the legal field.
 
Career Alternatives for Paralegals

To really explore the opportunities use networking tools. Find an industry you'd like to work in and figure out how your skills can win you a job!


As a Paralegal Placement Counselor

Would you like to earn a substantial salary? Do you relish the challenge of a new field? Are you the sort of self-motivated person who values independence at work? You might be a good candidate for a career as a paralegal placement counselor. You'll need aggressiveness, sales ability, and a quick, retentive mind for matching employers and employees. The work is challenging and the financial rewards and personal satisfaction can be great.

Essentially, employment agencies are matchmakers. They find employers who need personnel, and they find employees to fill those slots.

Paralegal placement counselors work for both parties: the employer and the employee. They find out about the needs of the law firm and they find paralegals whose interests and qualifications match those of the employer. A paralegal placement counselor must have the personal qualities and "people skills" that every placement counselor needs. But since he or she deals exclusively with paralegals, one more attribute is important: an in-depth knowledge of the needs and functions of the legal world. That's why a paralegal background can be invaluable.

Paralegal placement is a career for independent, aggressive people who have some business savvy and who like working with people.

Paralegal placement counselors are paid in a few different ways: commission, salary or a combination of the two. Counselors who work for a commission have the greatest earning potential. Their financial success, or lack of it, is solely up to them. They receive a commission for each employee placed.

Other paralegal placement counselors are salaried employees of the agency. Still others work for innovative agencies that have incentive programs. These counselors are paid a salary, but share in the commissions. The agency management, for example, might set a base level of placements for a quarter or for a month. If the placements for that period exceed the base level, the placement counselors share in the extra commissions. It's a profit-sharing system that provides the security of a salary, encourages teamwork, and rewards talent and hard work.

To work in this field you need to be a "people-oriented" kind of person. You have to be good at communicating with people. Your paralegal background can be important. It will help you to understand the needs of the legal community, and to find people who meet those needs. You also need to have ambition and aggressiveness. It's a job for the action-oriented person.

To find a job as a paralegal placement counselor, use all the techniques. Do your research. Check the yellow pages, the legal newspapers, and the daily press to find out which placement firms specialize in attorney, paralegal and legal secretary placement. Check the reputation of the agency by talking with paralegals and with attorneys.

One more note. Although you can be quite successful working independently, starting your own paralegal placement service is a much more difficult and risky affair. Unless you already have experience working at a placement firm, get a few years of solid experience as a paralegal placement counselor.

Selling to the Legal Profession

If you're an assertive, independent person with a knack for persuasion, you may find a challenging and lucrative career in selling to the legal profession. Attorneys and law firms use a myriad of goods and services: from florists to air couriers; typewriters to computers. And each business that serves the legal community relies upon its salespeople to make contacts, maintain accounts and convince attorneys to try a product or service. If you have the kind of sales personality that a successful vendor needs, your paralegal background could prove invaluable for selling to the legal profession. Your knowledge of the legal world and the workings of a law office give you an edge over other aspiring salespeople. If you're working in a law office, keep track of the vendors your firm deals with. Talk to them for ideas about the possibilities in legal sales.

For a talented salesperson, the salary potential is limited only by one's ability and tenacity. Most salespeople work on a commission basis: they receive a percentage of the total value of each sale.

A job in sales has another important advantage. Along with finance and marketing, it's a traditional route to corporate management. Read the biographies of some top corporate executives; you'll be surprised to discover how many began as salespeople. In some industries, starting your career in sales is almost essential.

If you want a career in selling to the legal profession, investigate the companies that could draw upon your paralegal background. Talk to the salespeople who come to your office, and let them know of your interest. Read the legal publications to see what kinds of companies advertise to attorneys. Since sales is a route to corporate management, choose companies whose products or services interest you. Look especially at companies that offer sales training programs. The more you know about how a product works, the better you'll be able to explain its value to your customers.

If you have any interest and talent- from data processing to art collecting- and a paralegal background, and that crucial ingredient, sales aptitude, there's a place for you in selling to the legal profession.

Journalism and Writing

The skills one needs to be a journalist- researching, organizing information, and writing- are skills that many paralegals use every day. You can use your paralegal skills in journalism. So assuming you have the desire and the writing talent, you might go on to a career as a writer or journalist. Journalism is a very competitive field. The work is hard and the pay is notoriously low. Nonetheless, it's a profession that attracts thousands of aspirants each year. That's why talent is never enough: motivation is essential for a writer.

There are no shortcuts to a writing career; you learn your craft by practice. Of course, there are some excellent classes in writing and journalism that you can take, and some renowned graduate programs in the field.

When you apply for a job on any newspaper or magazine, you will asked to show your clippings. Clippings are copies of your published work.

As a paralegal, you have an advantage over many writers. Your paralegal skills in journalism will take you a long way. You have experience and knowledge about a specific field- legal practice and procedure- that's always a hot topic for writers. Think about ideas for articles, based upon attorneys you've spoken to or based on work you've done. (One caveat here: don't try publishing anything about your work that breaches the confidentiality agreement with your employer.)

Start small. Submit your work to small magazines, especially to those that specialize in legal topics. Your library should have directories of periodicals, listed by specialty. Before you submit your work, try to get a copy of the magazine and a sample of the publication's guide lines for writers. This will give you a better idea of what the editors are looking for in terms of subject matter and style. Also, most editors recommend that you query first. Write them a letter, describing the article you're interested in writing, and ask if they'd like to see it. That way, you won't waste your time writing and researching a piece that no one wants to publish. In the beginning, you'll have to write most of your articles on speculation. The publication will tell you whether or not they're interested in the topic, but they won't guarantee payment until they see the completed work.

Remember, when you first begin as a writer your most important goal is to get published- anywhere- whether or not you get paid. Investigate community and non-profit publications. They generally pay little or nothing, but they're often open to work by freelance contributors. Your paralegal association is a good place to look. Many local associations also publish newsletters or magazines. Try your local bar association publication and your daily legal newspaper as well.

If you're interested in book publishing, investigate the companies that publish books in the paralegal and legal fields. Most aspiring editors or publishers start at the bottom: as secretaries, or editorial assistants. The salaries aren't great, but the work can be exciting and the advancement rapid for people with a flair for editing and publishing.

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 25, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 197 votes, average: 4.2 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.