In the legal profession, experience is gold. Many lawyers and paralegals begin their journey to a career in law by taking up paralegal and other related short courses. These experiences are great stepping-stones to law school and a career as an attorney.
The courses we offer are not just for those who want to become paralegals. The experience you get from our paralegal certificate courses can be a big help to law school students and applicants.
Preparing for the LSAT
Similar to every other law school applicant, maximizing your LSAT score is a must. The LSAT is nothing like the tests you had in high school and college in that you need to prepare for this admissions test for months.
At The Center for Legal Studies, we have helped countless students pass the LSAT not just through our LSAT Prep course but through our paralegal training courses as well. Our intensive, nationally-acclaimed programs are designed for beginners and advanced legal workers.
Letters of recommendation are crucial in law school applications, as it provides a legitimate insight into your experience and educational background.
A law school’s admissions committee will want proof that you do possess the skills, characteristics, and educational background required to make it in the legal field. This is where the paralegal experience from our institution and from local firms can help.
It can give law schools an idea on how good you are at arguments, research, drafting, and editing.
Exploring the Field
Your time as a paralegal or learning about the paralegal profession is your chance to explore the areas of the law that you deem interesting. Exploring these potential practice areas allow students to strategically plan and pursue their associate positions, as well as the specialization they want to pursue as lawyers.
Those who do well in their summer associate positions often get their first job offer out of law school from the very firm they interned for.
Paralegal experience is not just a short course, it’s an experience—something you can use whether you plan to pursue a legal or profession or not.
Paralegal: The Starting Point to Your Legal Career?
If you’re decided on becoming a lawyer, then starting your career off as a paralegal has some distinct advantages. Building important skills, establishing a network, and acquiring financial aid for ongoing education are just a few of them. But first: will becoming a paralegal help you get into law school in the first place?
Law School and the Paralegal
Everyone has to start somewhere, and for most lawyers, that starting point is law school. Getting into one is often a highly competitive and sometimes frustrating process, so many aspiring lawyers seek a leg up on the competition. Some take a year between graduating from college and applying for law school, as a kind of gap year, and in some instances, they use that gap year to work as a paralegal.
While working as a paralegal has its own advantages, the consensus seems to be that as a tool for convincing an admission’s committee about one’s desire to be a lawyer, it’s not terribly effective. A paralegal’s duties are more administrative and clerical than anything else, so any experience one may have as a paralegal isn’t exactly very attractive to an admission’s board. It indicates an aspirant’s interest in the law in general, but little more than that. On the whole, there seem to be better ways to use gap years to convince admission’s committees to accept you.
What about after school?
Let’s say you’ve completed law school and have passed the bar. Congratulations! You’re now a fully fledged lawyer, and on the hunt for a firm to hire you. Will your experience as a paralegal make your curriculum vitae stand out?
The answer is, it’s kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, creating and maintaining a personal network of contacts can be valuable, and becoming a paralegal is certainly one way to do that. However, in terms of demonstrating skills and knowledge that would be valuable to the hiring firm, it seems like there are more effective ways to do that.
So what good is being a paralegal anyway?
While it may seem, to this point, that working as a paralegal may not be the jumpstart to the legal career that you were hoping for, it does have a few advantages.
First of all, working as a paralegal may give you access to financial aid and assistance that you may not have been able to access if you had been working elsewhere. As mentioned earlier, the process for application to law schools can be quite competitive; this process includes the standardized Law School Application Test (LSAT). Aspiring law students often take weeks or even months to prepare for the LSAT, including taking preparatory classes and practice tests. These can be expensive. However, many law firms will agree to subsidize their paralegal’s LSAT review classes. Usually this comes with the expectation that the aspirant will eventually work for the sponsoring law firm.
Having a robust professional network is vital in any profession, and this applies to the law as well. Establishing and maintaining contacts and friendships within your own industry, especially early on in your career, could be an important competitive advantage, and working as a paralegal makes this possible. Being able to demonstrate to firm partners and associates valuable character traits such as a well-developed work ethic and a willingness to do more than required may also give you the leg up you’ve been looking for.
On the other hand, if it turns out that your “dream career” isn’t all you’d hoped it would be, it’s better that you find out earlier rather than later. Working as a paralegal can give you some insight into what your eventual workday will look like as a lawyer. If what you see doesn’t appeal to you, at least you know ahead of time, before making major investments of time and money into it.
Get in touch with us today for more information on our paralegal training, LSAT preparation, and other related courses.