Ask A Legal Recruiter

Any paralegals turned lawyers here? How did you leverage your experience when negotiating salary? Esp. If you have 5+ years and you aren’t “green”

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Same same. Everyone has told me my paralegal experience doesn't count. I'm, sorry, so 8 years of billing 2000+ hours doesn't count? I managed cases and people and did legal research and vetted discovery vendors...guess what? All that apparently irrelevant work experience has made me a better lawyer, but most lawyers are too high on themselves to realize that it's not just academics and pedigree that make you a good lawyer. But, yeah, I don't put it on my resume.

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And no, if you just say you are a paralegal and nothing else, I'll ask questions to verify that you didn't say more because you didn't think it was relevant and move on. I don't assume paralegals are always bad, don't put words in my mouth, I assume the ones who claim to have managed cases and then get aggressive when you ask for follow ups are fake show offs, like you.

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Try and capitalise on any substantive legal experience you gained as a paralegal. I was a paralegal for some years too before becoming a lawyer but my current firm didn't care at all about that and only wanted to know about my "legal" experience.

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I would agree with this. I was a paralegal before law school, and now as a legal recruiter, there are very few pre-law school experiences that firms care about. I placed a very junior associate in privacy, who had pre-law privacy experience, but they remained at their same class year. I did place a candidate who had very high-level federal policy experience in their practice area, but it was very much an outlier situation.

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I was a paralegal for 6 years and unless you are working at the same firm as a lawyer there usually isn't much negotiating with salary. What it will help you do is have a leg up on another first year associate who doesnt have the same experience. But honestly, they are different. It's like being in the minor leagues and being in the pros. As a lawyer the speed is faster and the expectations are higher.

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This. You'll be way ahead of your peers. But unlikely it'll be in your salary.

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Former paralegal heading to big law after graduation. I leveraged my experience for the position, but only after making the case for it. I did not see any opportunities for negotiation. Some lawyers have trouble understanding the value of paralegal experience (I had one attorney dismiss me and say I don’t know what the law is like until I’m a real lawyer). In my experience the most effective use of my background was to make the case that I knew how to work with difficult partners and I knew what is expected in terms of attention to detail, etc.

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