Working at a Law Firm

Updated on August 10, 2011
A.!. asks from Ecorse, MI
10 answers

Hello Mama's
I was pushed into a situation where I had to represent myself in court and did very well. I am confident that I want a career change and I am thinking about law, so my thoughts are to seek emoployment or volunteer (intern) at a law firm. Does anyone work at a law firm? What do you do and are you happy with your job? Are there postions at law firms that you can volunteer if so what are they?

Update:What are the exact duties and hours of a paralegal and can they work from home?

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answers from St. Louis on

Look first at your local courthouse. Volunteering at the State's Attorney's Office is a great start. Look to see if they have any paid positions available also.

Look at local law firms to see if they are hiring, even if just for temp work or clerical.

**Yes, you must have a specific degree to be a paralegal. But, you don't have to be a paralegal to work in a law firm or similar area.

*** Duties include assisting the attorney with drafting documents and organizing files etc. Basically, you are there to make sure the attorney can do his or her job and do it well. You will do research/investigations for the attorney as well, more or less depending on the firm and their needs. I think what is more important is what the paralegal CAN'T do - ie practice law, set fees,etc.

Depending on the firm, your hours and ability to work from home will vary. It completely depends on what that firm or office is looking for. I wouldn't want my paralegal at home, as I would want to have face to face convos with her regularly.

* also, be aware that as a paralegal, you won't see much if any of that court action you enjoyed and the reason for your push. So, keep that in mind. It will most likely be a "regular" desk job behind a computer most days. But, you could get lucky and work for an attorney who spends tons of time in court and brings you along for the ride!

* Cash_Twins stereotype is unbelievable. Some of the best people I have ever met are attorneys. Some of the most vindictive and shady are pastors. People hate lawyers until they need them, kind of like the government. Generally, laypeople have no idea what it take to practice law, yet they want to talk about how incompetent lawyers are. Find a job that pays well and you enjoy. You can't go wrong.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

My husband and brother are lawyers (and I think they're both AWESOME too). And my dad was a judge. I feel like I've spent more time watching court proceedings or running errands for lawyers than any non-lawyer should. Anyway, there are tons of jobs you can do in the legal field. Receptionist, legal secretary, research associate, librarian at a large law firm, paralegal, lawyer, court clerk, judge. I haven't met any lawyers that accept interns. Part of that is because the lawyer is legally responsible for all of the work that leaves their office and I think they like to have an employment contract and standards they can hold people to. But you could certainly be hired as a receptionist and work your way up to paralegal while you go to school to get your certificate. The people that work for my brother and husband seem to be happy -- several are close friends of mine.

I've never heard of a paralegal working from home, but I do know two paralegals that do free lance work. So they only work for certain periods of time on specific cases and the rest of the time they're home or travelling or whatever. I suspect you have to develop a reputation as a good paralegal before you'd be able to do that. And... paralegals do just about everything depending on the firm. Research, draft motions, organize exhibits, file things with the court, you name it.

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answers from Detroit on

I worked as a paralegal for many years before becoming a SAHM. I LOVED my work. I see you are from Ecorse. I graduated out of University of Detroit Mercy with a Bachelor's of Legal Administration and I have a minor in legal studies. The courses were interesting as was the work. There is SO MUCH you can do in this field such as work for a law firm, government, and legal departments in the private sector. If you pursue a degree in the legal field, there are courses that require you take an internship. You can also check out the local community colleges to see if they offer the 2 year legal assistant programs.

The work that I did was very detail oriented. You do all kinds of things from letters, documentation, research, accounting, filing paperwork, interviewing clients, and talking to court personnel. It really depends on where you work also. You can work from home, but usually that requires having once worked in the office having gained a significant amount of experience. The only thing you must be careful with is acting like an attorney. You can get in big trouble if you start giving legal advice as you need to be licensed to provide advice or represent a client. That's covered in the legal ethics classes.

Hope this helps.

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answers from Chicago on

My sister is a lawyer, but does mainly contracts and patents. (for the record... she's AWESOME even though she's a lawyer). It's not as 'exciting' as criminal law and when they are in court it's not 'flashy'. In addition to paralegals, they have "research associates" at her firm (not sure what the exact difference is... .other than probably pay) that look up stuff on the internet and pull case history etc, but even they don't work at home.

Another employment opportunity to consider is to clerk for a judge. You have to be SUPER organized. Sometimes the judge will use law students, but sometimes they are independent positions. I looked into that at one point, it seemed interesting to me. But I decided to go a different direction instead.

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answers from Chicago on

that's great! I am not aware of my acquaintences (sp) being able to work from home. It's a demanding job and sometimes they are putting in tons of hours depending on the area of law the attorney practices. I would target a particular firm or network with individuals in that area so you can get a better understanding of what they do and how much they have to work.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Forget volunteering, forget paralegal.

If more (MANY MORE) people like you, people who were MOMS first, THEN became lawyers, think HOW NICE THE WORLD would be!

Aim high, you can do ANYTHING after being a MOM!

Least that's what I think (not to suggest I follow my own advice, of course).


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

Hi Butterfly...I worked in a law firm since my Junior year in high school...started as a receptionist and they trained me for secretarial work and I found I loved it. I continue on to be a paralegal. I was in the field for almost 18 years before I moved and then started a family. At the time I lived in Texas. I find paralegal work very demanding because you as a paralegal are helping your attorney prepare his case. It is a very demanding job. I worked 8-6, and I thank god that at the time I did not have a family because depending on the attorney, you are a "paralegal" not a mama.. For that reason I have not returned. I found it a rewarding position and to be good, you do have to give it your all. I did not find that paralegal work can be done at home, as there are case files and such, but I did do a lot of over time paperwork from my home. I loved my job and I miss it, but I find my job as a mom giving 100% wold interfere in me being the paralegal I was.. Good luck..

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answers from Lansing on

I have worked in a law firm setting for almost 16 years now and can't imagine doing anything else, not to mention the pay is better than just about any other type of office work. I love my job!

I started working at a law firm when I was in college (while also a cashier at a big chain store). I started as an entry level secretary who didn't know how to do much, but I was willing to learn so I transitioned into being a legal secretary and legal assistant. Since earning my paralegal bachelor's degree I have been working as a paralegal. Having a college degree is great, but most law firms will tell you that as long as you can do the job that's all that matters.

There are so many different types of firms and law offices that it's hard to say where the best place to start is. Sometimes just starting as a mail clerk or a file clerk will get your foot in the door. If it's a smaller firm maybe try getting the receptionist job. I think if you are willing to learn, able to pay attention to details, able to multitask and able to interact with the unique personalities of attorneys then you could be very successful. Anyone can learn to do the job, but not every person is capable of doing a good job because it can be very demanding and stressful at times.

Regarding your paralegal specific duties consist of doing just about whatever needs to be done to make the attorneys jobs easier! Most all of my duties are done within the office, but on occasion I have had to do things out of the office - once while on vacation with my family I met with potential witnesses who lived in the area where we were staying because it was convenient. The most common things I do is meet with/email/phone clients & attorneys to discuss status of cases; draft docs; review docs; research; search/subpoena/review potential evidence; and oversee or train other staff in the office (that has included two new attorneys). My hours vary depending on what needs to be done and how quickly it needs to be done. Some weeks I might work 30 hours, but other weeks I might work 70 hours. I have been in the office as early as 5:00 a.m. and as late as midnight, but those were in situations where things had to get done. Thankfully, my husband has been a stay-at-home dad since our first child was born because that has allowed me the flexibility to get the job done because we have four kids.

Good luck!

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answers from Phoenix on

I'm curious to see what kind of responses you get. In the last 2 years my husband and I have had 2 court hearings regarding his daughter. The first hearing I did all of the fillings and Motions and we did relatively well. The last hearing we paid 12k in attorney fees to one of the highest rated attorneys in the phoenix area and we were spanked and then spanked again. But the attorney reviewed all my filings and motions and was really impressed. Made me think that I could work in an office too. Wondered if you have to have a paralegal certificate or degree or whatever it is they get. I think it would be hard work but fun too. Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

It's more than just having done well in court. If you have a gift, then enhance it, for sure. But there's a lot to it. I went a year in 2006 to the Academy of Court Reporting in Clawson and got educated as a legal assistant. There's a lot to learn. I would go that route, and at the same time volunteer at a legal firm. If you just want experience, that's usually fine with them and it's encouraged at the Academy. When you show your value and that they can't survive w/out you, either they hire you or recommend you to someone, or give you a glowing testimony on any job apps for elsewhere.

Volunteering works really well because it gets you in the atmosphere you're pursuing. Very first rule, however, is: NEVER EVER EVER give legal advise to anyone seeking an attorney. Even if you're spot on, do not do it. Your response to anyone asking you a question is to suggest speaking with the attorney. You otherwise open yourself and the firm up to a can of worms because you aren't an attorney. That simple.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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