10 Things You Can do With a Paralegal Degree

Paralegal Degree

10 Things You Can do With a Paralegal Degree

If you have graduated college and are ready to start your career but are unable to find work as a paralegal, do not worry. There are many jobs that you can do with your degree while you are waiting for the perfect paralegal position. These jobs will not only allow you to continue searching for just the right paralegal job while still earning a living, but most will help you obtain relevant work experience to help you get a paralegal job more easily.

Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants work in an office setting performing administrative tasks such as preparing correspondence, transcription, research, copying, filing, and answering the phone. Medical offices, universities, manufacturing and distribution companies, warehouses, and large corporations all use administrative assistants to take care of customers, organize the office, and keep the business running.

Bankruptcy Petition Preparer

A bankruptcy petition preparer is a non-lawyer who prepares bankruptcy petitions for the general public for a fee.  11 § U.S.C. 110 authorizes non-attorney bankruptcy petition preparers and provides some guidelines for working as a petition preparer. A bankruptcy petition prepare may not give legal advice or represent clients at hearings or creditor meetings. He or she may only gather the information needed and fill in the petition was well as the schedules and exhibits that go along with it.

Claims Adjuster/Investigator

Claims adjusters and investigators work for insurance companies evaluating and investigating claims. An adjuster may interview witnesses, talk to the police, review medical records, or inspect damaged property. Claims adjusters also prepare reports, draft correspondence, and negotiate settlements.

Collections Specialist

Collections specialists work for companies collecting on delinquent accounts. They may contact debtors to negotiate settlements and payment plans, draft correspondence to debtors, or prepare legal documents for court. Collections specialists may also be charged with locating debtors, managing account files, and scheduling court hearings.

Compliance Officer

A compliance officer works for a large corporation reviewing and interpreting company and governmental regulations, policies, and procedures and ensuring compliance with such regulations and policies. Compliance officers may prepare training materials, perform inspections, investigate and respond to complaints, and create reports and presentations regarding compliance issues.

Legal Secretary

Legal secretaries work in small to large law firms providing administrative and secretarial support to legal staff. In smaller offices, the legal secretary’s job may overlap with that of a paralegal, with organizational, client service, and typing tasks being performed by both. Legal secretaries may prepare some legal documents, but generally do not draft those that require more than inserting basic information. These types of documents are usually prepared by paralegals or attorneys.

Legal Blogger

If you have writing skills, you may want to consider a job as a legal blogger. Legal bloggers write for attorney websites, web designers, and legal information sites. Legal bloggers are generally self employed and work from home, setting their own schedule, and writing for several different clients.

Tax Preparer

Tax preparers work for large tax preparation companies such as H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt or for smaller accounting firms preparing income, estate, inheritance, and other tax forms and returns. Just as a paralegal must work under the supervision of an attorney, a tax preparer must work under the supervision of a tax attorney, Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) or IRS Enrolled Agent.

Technical Writer

Technical writers prepare owner’s manuals, online help guides, white papers, project plans, and other informational items that help consumers use a product. Many technical writers work for companies that produce products with which they are familiar and know how to use. Others work as freelancers, accepting writing jobs from many different companies and writing about many different products.tual/Personal Assistant

A personal assistant provides administrative support to professionals in the business world. The newest trend in personal assisting is to work as a virtual assistant, providing needed support from a home office “virtually” or via the internet. Personal assistants read and prepare correspondence, make travel arrangements, prepare spreadsheets and reports, answer e-mails, return phone calls, and perform other business and administrative tasks.

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About Shelley Riseden

Shelley M. Riseden is a freelance paralegal providing research, document preparation, and writing services to both attorneys and non-attorneys. She is an expert at conducting legal research and has a natural ability to grasp complex legal issues.Phone: 765.667.5139, E-mail: smriseden@earthlink.net or shelley@virtuallylegal.net, Skype: shelley.riseden, Yahoo: Virtually_Legal

Comments

  1. Ellen Wright says:

    Claims Adjustor/Investigators, in my experience, HAVE to have experience working as an insurance agent within the firm at some point. The companies want to know that you know their policies inside out. My husband used to work for one of the biggest. They will not hire anyone who doesn’t have that kind of experience for their claims adjustors or investigators. A newly graduated paralegal? Not a snowballs’s chance in you know where.

    I doubt seriously that any but the smallest would. There’s too much at stake. Sorry to pour a glacier stream on that one. It’s just their policy that I know well.

    • Sean Herndon says:

      Hi Ellen, thank you for sharing. In our readership there are a lot of new grads that may have back grounds in various sectors and don’t associate their new education with their last experiences. Also, there are some geographical areas that there is nothing else and the new paralegal is the only one that has the education. We want to inspire our readership to think outside of the traditional thinking of a paralegal career. Especially if there is no other opportunities in their geographic area.

      Agreed having past knowledge and experience will always give the new paralegal or individual more competitive advantage in finding a new position.

      Again, thank you for sharing. We wish you many successes!

  2. Bob Davidson says:

    No offense, Shelley, but my paralegal school was telling us about alternative careers twenty years ago. Maybe it realized that real paralegal jobs, at least in my market, were tight.

    In any event, one field my school stressed was title insurance. It said that title companies prize paralegals. I had gained real property experience preparing deeds and real estate buy/sell contracts, so when I found myself out of a job I applied to twenty title insurance companies. I received nary a bite. I found that hard to believe, considering Colorado, where I live, was on the cutting edge of the foreclosure calamity.

    I had collected tons of trial, hearing, depo, settlement, medical appointment and conference setting experience. A hospital advertised for an appointment setter. I applied for the job and emphasized the above experience. Once again, nary a bite.

    Paralegals collect a boatload of skills that would transfer well to other industries. The problem is other industries are not interested. Only law is interested in paralegal skills. So I don’t buy your assertions there are things one can do with a paralegal degree (or certificate) while waiting for that “perfect” paralegal job. It just doesn’t happen in the real world.

    • Thanks for the comment, Bob. You are right, paralegal jobs can be hard to find and that is particularly true in today’s economy!

      I am sure that no job is easy to get right now, but this article is really more about helping paralegals to become aware of how their skills might transfer into other industries, especially if they have prior experience in a particular one, than proclaiming that any job is easy to get.

  3. Thank you for the suggestions. As a recent graduate of a paralegal program, I’m finding it difficult to get work in a law firm without paralegal experience. I have plenty of office experience so this definitely helps. Thanks again!

    • Good luck in your job search, Julia! If you find that you really need experience, try looking into volunteer work to get it. Contact your local and state Bar Associations for help finding it!

  4. I am from Michigan and after reading this post I have not had any success finding a paralegal job in my area. Every job post I see “requires” 3-5 years of experience. So I obviously ask the age ole’ question: How can I get experience if you won’t hire me? I have 15 years experience as an administrative assistant. I would hope that that the experience I have would be worth something to someone. During my time in school (while still working full time) I received four letters from the college president congratulating me on my acheivements.

    So a year later I am still trying to find a job. I have had professors check my resume and they see nothing wrong with it. I have even taken a resume witing class.

    The other positions listed in Shelley’s post are scarce in my area. I have applied for many legal secretary jobs and a few claims adjuster/investigator jobs and I continue to run into the same road block, “3-5 years experience”. I will honestly say that I do not have interest in tax or bankruptcy positions as these are just not areas of the law that excite me.

    So if anyone has any ideas of what I can do to change my circumstances , I welcome them with open eyes.

  5. Shelley M. Riseden says:

    Thank you for the comment, Ellen. You are absolutely right! I am sure that, particularly in today’s job market, there are many newly graduating paralegals who cannot break into any of these fields in their area. However, not only does Sean have a good point about the diversity of experience of the site’s visitors, but I also think that the geographic area plays an important role in what a paralegal can do with their degree as well.

    I live in Indiana, and can honestly say that even with the poor economy, anyone with a relevant degree could get a job in any of these fields here, if they had a good resume and some interview skills.

    Thanks for sharing!

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