An Open Letter To Attorneys Advertising Paralegal Positions

Dear Attorney:

I am applying for your advertised position. I realize that I do not have all the qualifications that you have listed in your advertisement. I do not have a four-year degree. What I do have is a two-year degree, not a certificate, from an accredited Community College in an American Bar Association approved program in Paralegal studies.

My fellow graduates and I worked hard for that degree, spending a minimum of two years to earn it. There were no easy A’s in this program. Out of the twenty-five (25) students in the Introduction to Paralegal Studies class, only twelve (12) graduate each semester. We who graduate are the ones who can do the work you need done. We have proven ourselves in the field, if only for one hundred (100) hours.

I also do not have the two to five years of experience that you ask for. Had I the experience, I would likely not be applying for your position because I would be quite comfortable in my current position. I am, after all, looking for a permanent place to work.

I know that you want an experienced paralegal because you believe that you will not have to train that person. You are mistaken; they have been trained, but not to do things your way. You will find yourself spending time explaining that you don’t care how their previous employer did things, that this is how you want things done. Hiring an entry-level paralegal will at least save you that headache.

Another savings that could come from hiring an entry-level paralegal would be financial. You could offer the trainee a lower salary to start. You would be getting work done and saving money at the same time.

I am a capable person. Although my first college pursuit didn’t work out, my recent college activity has been stellar. I was able to earn a cumulative GPA of 3.95/4.00. I am an apt student and you will find that I learn things rather quickly (as my internship supervisor will testify).

Give my former classmates and me a chance to prove our worth. You won’t regret it.

Sincerely,

Julia

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Hunting the Unicorn: The Search for an Entry Level Position

In the two weeks since the end of classes, I have been busy looking for employment in my most recent chosen field. I have not had much luck this time around either.

My first time around was after I completed an Associate in Accounting. Jobs that should have been entry-level were being offered, but the requirements were ridiculous. Jobs that required minimal accounting knowledge to do, because they were primarily clerical work, were requiring a Bachelors’ degree and/or experience.

This time around, I studied to become a paralegal because the program involved gaining practical experience as an intern. There was no pay, just college credit. Essentially, I paid for the privilege of working for an attorney. I thought that it would help to have this experience on my résumé. It has not.

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Oh… Look, A New Ladder!

Last week was a busy week.

On Tuesday, March 29, I completed the last of my duties to the Paralegal Club. The presentation of the final revisions to the club’s by-laws went rather smoothly. The NCC Student Senate voted to approve the final revisions, which made the recently revised by-laws official. As we (our new club president attended the meeting with me) were leaving, one of the senators commented that our club had the best organized by-laws that they had ever seen. I should hope so – we are paralegals after all.

Wednesday was spent at home while repairs were made to my heat pump. They finished changing out the broken compressor only to discover that they had to come back to complete repairs.

Thursday featured the installation of a new garage door opener. The technician came in the early morning, earlier than I would have liked. I had sent an email to my Estates & Trust professor telling him that I would be late. And then I discover that he didn’t have the right part for the size door that I had. He would have to come back later in the day. So, it was back to the computer to email my professor and ask him to disregard the previous email.

The hours of my internship had to be rearranged to accommodate the needed repairs. My professor decided it would be a good week to meet at the work site on Friday. Despite being a little nervous at the onset of the meeting, I was feeling pretty good at the end of it.

The week ahead will start with a  glitch, but it should be easier on the nerves.

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One Rung Down, Two Rungs To Go

The Paralegal club held its officer elections yesterday. I have been successfully replaced as club president. That doesn’t mean I can walk away with a clear conscience.

I still have two very important tasks to complete before the semester ends. This is the time of year when all NCC clubs must submit their budget requests for the next fiscal year. Part of that request involves filing a form detailing how the club has performed during the  current fiscal year.

I also need to present, or assist in presenting, the final revision of the new club by-laws to the Student Senate. This should be easy once I find out when I can do this.

If you see someone sitting alone sobbing into their coffee…

Sorry, that won’t be me.

 

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How Do I Get Off This Ladder?

Do you want to be successful? Do you want to climb to the top of the ladder? Do you want to be the person in charge?

There is plenty of advice on how to become a leader. We all want to rule the world, or so we are told. But what if this isn’t your goal? Want if you just wanted to get something done?

Let’s start at the beginning…

I joined a college club, the Paralegal & Legal Assistants Club (aka PALS), because I thought it would be nice to socialize with people who shared a common goal – to earn an Associate in Applied Science Paralegal Degree.

At the time I joined during the Fall 2014, the club had barely risen from the dead after having been abandoned by its previous members. The new officers were putting forth their best efforts to get the club back on its feet. Being a newbie to the “member of a club” scene, I sat back and watched as we made last-ditch efforts to be an active club.  Things would change in the Spring 2015 semester.

The club struggled on two fronts – keeping members interested and getting the word out about the club. I saw an opportunity with the latter issue. No one person seemed to be in charge of promoting the club, informing the college community of our activities, or publishing our accomplishments on our Facebook page. We had become a more active club by then.

I gathered together all the little tasks associated with letting people know what we were up to and created a new officer position – Social Media Officer – in an effort to have some authority to get flyers printed for free from the college printing office. The club’s four officers agreed with me and, in my second semester as a member of the club, I became the fifth officer. But the position was never “official” because it wasn’t in the club’s by-laws. A technicality that I dedicated myself to fixing.

I started with writing the officer into the by-laws, but I couldn’t quit there. There was a redundant clause at the end that annoyed me, so I struck it out of the revision. I thought that we had something to present to the Student Senate at that moment, and the revisions were affirmed by a unanimous vote.

The revisions were not presented to the Student Senate that semester, nor was that the end of the revision process. The  revision of the by-laws sat on Facebook and in my files, unaltered and unofficial, for an entire semester and a half.

Mid semester of 2015 Fall, our club president resigned to concentrate on his internship. After much prompting and prodding, I accepted the nomination and the club elected me as their new president. It was an opportunity to finally present the by-laws to the Student Senate and get them approved.

This was my second time in a management position. I was determined not to let the Peter Principle win this time around, but I still felt under-prepared for the responsibility. I managed to not embarrass myself before the Paralegal Advisory Committee, which I still felt awkward presenting to despite being ready.

During the 2015 Fall semester, I learned that the official copy of the club by-laws could be accessed online through MyNCC. And the set that I found there differed from the set of by-laws that had been published on PALS Facebook page. After incorporating a missing paragraph into my set of proposed by-laws, I took what I had to the members.

They were all for revising the by-laws – even enthusiastic about it! And revise we did. We included the goal of providing scholarships to Paralegal students as part of our mission statement. We defined membership in the club as being more than just showing up for meetings – but also helping out with fundraising and other club activities – and included what some of the benefits to club members would be.

The title of the officer position that I had created was changed to Publicist within this revision of the by-laws. Election of officers, resignation of officers, and removal of officers would also be revised in the new document. And the club name was officially shortened to Paralegal Club, with the club acronym being retained for its recognition among the local community.

On 2016 March 1, I stood before the Student Senate and presented the new set of by-laws for their approval. They had a problem with the Removal of Officers section. I listened attentively to everything they suggested to make the section acceptable and made notes on my copy. The Student Senate then tentatively passed the by-laws, requesting that I get back to them with a corrected copy at a later date.

And this is my sticking point: I can’t abandon what I started. I want to finish this, but I will no longer  be club president when the next opportunity arises to present the final (I hope) revision to the Student Senate.

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Distractions

The closer it gets to spring break, the more the panic sets in. Just preparing for the big event – the start of my internship with a lawyer – is stressful enough. I know who, what, when, where, and why – but it is that big step of actually communicating with this person that stymies, nay, terrifies me.

And there is everything else (the distractions).

Paralegal club – I still haven’t written that request to be on the Student Senate agenda to secure their approval for the changes made to the club by-laws. And I also need to prepare a slide show presentation to aid in making our case.

Estates and Trusts – The demands to draft documents are steady, fortunately. The temptation to drop is there, but I know I’d regret that decision. This is a distraction that I can live with.

Cats – Although I enjoy these perpetual toddlers, I still have to make arrangements to neuter the new guy before his increasing libido becomes a serious problem.

House –

  • A little over three weeks ago, my garage door opener failed at the same time that the spring broke on my garage door. The spring was replaced, but the failed door opener would need some investigation on my part. It turned out to be a broken sensor; fortunately, Amazon had a replacement. Replacement was delayed by a bitter cold spell last weekend, but the nice warm day yesterday was ideal.
  • Lights have become a problem as fluorescent fixtures are starting to fail. This is a distraction that can be temporarily ignored, unless the buzzing gets to me.
  • This list could go on forever.

It is quite obviously time to bite the bullet and kick the distractions to the curb.

For the slang impaired: it is time to focus on the priorities, face the tasks that I dread the most, and leave everything else for later.

 

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Progress Made Toward the Next Semester

I have (I hope) made the final revision of the PALS Club Charter after having discovered that I was not working with the “Official” version. This revision will have to go before the membership and be voted on before it goes before the Student Senate.

I have made updates to the club’s Facebook page in preparation for the new semester.

I have all my books and other materials that I need for my classes.

I have invested in some new clothes. My wardrobe needed to move a little upscale if I expect to get hired after graduation.

Things I still need to do:

  • Put revised charter on the Student Senate agenda
  • Sign the club up for Spartan Fest
  • Make the donation to Safe Harbor
  • Complete the list of meeting dates for Spring Semester

And most important of all…DON’T PANIC!

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