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Is Being A Paralegal A Good Career Change For Me?

Posted on January 23, 2020 in Firm News

This question was recently posed to me by a family member. Beth is a trained surgical nurse and has worked in the medical field for over 15 years.  Unfortunately , she has gone through a divorce and has kids at home.  The 12-hour shifts she is required to work at the hospital have made it very difficult for her to meet the varied demands of parenting her children as a single mother, and she is considering a career change to enable a more home-centered environment for her family.

Her situation is a mirror of my own that I faced many years ago.  Although not in the medical field, I was very well trained as a ” secretary”-typing , shorthand,bookkeeping,business law etc.., and I aced my college English & Literature classes and I was a proficient writer-I was very good at all of it! But a typical secretarial job did not pay very well, especially at the entry level. At the time I was seeking employment, evidently there was quite a lot of competition in the market- I literally pounded the sidewalks for weeks doing interviews and submitting applications in search of a position. And then I received that fateful, life-changing phone call that lead me into an attorney’s office, where they were looking for a “good Typist”!

Well, that was a long time ago, and my “career” in the legal field has morphed several times over the years. I’ve been characterized by few term: legal secretary, legal assistant, master calendar clerk, executive assistant, administrative legal assistant, and since 2006, as a  Paralegal (Certificate earned at UNLV). When my firm merged with a national east coast firm, I was”grandfathered” in as a paralegal, although I had never been actually certified. When I realized that I was the only paralegal in that coast-to-coast law firm who didn’t carry such a qualification, I decided it was time to earn one.

Back to Beth’s question: Is being a paralegal a good career change for me? To answer, I told her that this path is not for everyone. It takes a person who is not only intelligent and educated,of which she is both, as well as having a specific expertise in the medical field. However, you also need to be self-motivated, tenacious, and exacting to get the job done to the satisfaction of your Boss, as well as Yourself! So, I asked Beth what she was hoping to get out of this career change? Would she be happy doing half administrative work half paralegal work? Or would she need to be doing full-time paralegal work to feel fulfilled?

I’m pleased to report that Beth did pursue a paralegal degree, and that she has secured a position as a Medical Paralegal with a law firm that practices in the area of personal injury law. With her medical background, she analyzes, interprets and summarizes medical reports and records, and then translates them into “layman’s terms” for use by the attorney to evaluate potential claims for their clients. With the flexibility she now has in her daily schedule, which includes occasionally working from home or research and investigation outside of the office, she is very happy and glad she made the change that has greatly helped her create a home environment more conducive to meeting her needs as a single parent.

My Career has provided a source of interest and growth, sometimes exciting,and always financially rewarding.So, if you’re looking for a career change and are considering a position in the legal field, you might consider going back to school for a short while and obtaining a paralegal certification, so you can apply your previous experience and skill set to a specific area of the law.