3 February 2012
by Becky Wilcox
The United States is not in want of lawyers. This is because every year, over 45,000 individuals across the country graduate from law school. This figure far exceeds any estimates regarding how much demand there is for legal counsel and expertise. For every law firm that employs a dozen attorneys, nearly triple that number of recent law graduates are trying to push their way in. The consequence is simple: hundreds of thousands of aspiring attorneys are unable to get the training they need to rise up the legal ladder. It’s apparent that in the American legal system, experience is rarer than education.
For those serious about entering the legal profession, these facts ought to be taken very seriously. Law school is an expensive ordeal no matter where you receive your education. With nothing but an education under your belt, it could take years for you to earn a living as a lawyer that enables you to successfully pay down your student loan debt. Throughout the interim, expect to be eating plenty of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in order to make ends meet. Oh, and don’t count out the possibility of having to moonlight as a pizza delivery driver or restaurant server.
But this is all on the assumption that upon graduating law school you’d have little to no actual experience inside a law office. Such a situation could be easily remedied by patient forethought in the form of earning an accredited online paralegal certificate, or earning paralegal qualifications in a more traditional setting. Paralegal work is the perfect way to attain legal experience prior or during a stint in law school. Becoming certified is incredibly easy, especially for those who desired to enter the legal profession to begin with, and such above-average appreciation for the law is sure to set apart any aspiring attorney from other potential paralegal hires.
Chances are that if you’re planning on going to law school, you’ll be earning a living in the meantime anyway. In addition to your four year undergraduate degree, pick up some paralegal certification in your spare time in order to make it possible to find work in a law office while you attend law school. Such timely experience will be precious upon graduation. In fact, chances are pretty good that in your two to four years working in a law office as a law student you’ll wind up making the connections that are certain to lead to immediate employment opportunities that put your law degree to some good use.
Acquiring a job in a law firm during law school is not an uncommon strategy. However the problem most people have is that they do not have any qualifications to work in a law firm despite attaining a four year degree. Most of the time these degrees were focused on marketing or political science, and thus have no particular relevance to the real ins and outs of a law firm. Paralegal certification, on the other hand, makes you a precious commodity among law firms.
If you’ve already tackled a four-year degree and are now considering going to law school, stop and consider the realities of the world you’re getting yourself into. Finding work right out of law school is incredibly difficult in today’s job market unless you have a decent amount of experience to go along with your education. After four years of schooling and amidst contemplating another two to four more, what’s another six months to a year of paralegal training? It will not only give you what you need to get hired at a law firm, but ultimately give you what you need to find work immediately upon graduation from law school.
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