Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

35 y.o. paralegal/contracts manager with transfer offer

Apologies for posting here as a non-JD but could use feedbac paralawyer12/11/16
I know a couple of paralegals and a legal assistant who've j inho2solo12/11/16
Yes, there would be substantial training and I know for a fa paralawyer12/11/16
U do u Scottie p. U do u. Seems ur mind is already made up. mtobeinf12/11/16
if you arent moving forward, you are falling behind. when yo whiteguyinchina12/11/16
bump. any other thoughts on this one? paralawyer12/16/16
I don't know man. F lawyers, really. Working for them has to mtobeinf12/16/16
I'm in technology and have project & program managers report jabberwocky01/05/17
Thanks much for this. This would be a position embedded dire paralawyer01/12/17
bump paralawyer01/13/17
Based only on the information you've provided, I would take jabberwocky01/13/17
Very helpful and good comment re P&L responsibility trajecto paralawyer01/13/17
Do the new gig and get paid training in the new role. You ca whipster12/18/16
thanks and bump paralawyer01/12/17
paralawyer (Dec 11, 2016 - 3:05 pm)

Apologies for posting here as a non-JD but could use feedback. I'm a contracts manager at a large company who has recently been offered a transfer role within my company to a "program manager" role on a product team. This would involve leaving the legal track into a quasi-technical program management (managing many projects at once) role, working closely within engineers, product managers, policy, PR, legal. I'm also 35 with no plans on going to law school (company is not financially supportive or committed to post-JD promotion). Conundrum is I've been in legal for 12 years, built up a sizable expertise, rapport with internal clients, and I don't have to worry about what I do - I'm competent and have been rewarded (high ratings, promos). This would be a new domain, same pay - but granted I won't be going to law school this seems to be the right choice - I don't want to be a 45 y.o. paralegal. This seems like a good opportunity and I trust the new role manager, but a part of it feels risky. Question is should I stay with what I know best and value security over growth? How risky do you this would be?

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inho2solo (Dec 11, 2016 - 3:59 pm)

I know a couple of paralegals and a legal assistant who've jumped into R&D as project managers or product developers (the AA).

Main risks as I see them: if you're going to be doing a lot of project management, do you have any specialized training in this area? All the program and project managers I've worked with seem to have one or more of the "PMI" certification designations. If not, will the company afford you the opportunity to get training on the side and support you when you seek such one of these designations (if it seems important to have, there)?

Also if you don't already have training/experience in program management, will there be a hand-holding or train-up period? Or are they going to toss you in to flounder about on your own and eventually drown? (this would of course be a stupid thing to do, but hey, just read some Dilberts - they happen)

The other risk is industrial downturn, and your company decides it needs to hack out 30% of its R&D spend, and what you're managing is what goes down the tubes. Got a crystal ball?

Upside: in my industry, experienced paralegals are making 70-90K. I don't know actual salaries of any of the project/program managers, but I know from their titles generally what their midpoints should be, and it's considerably higher.

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paralawyer (Dec 11, 2016 - 4:09 pm)

Yes, there would be substantial training and I know for a fact this role is higher-regarded and more heavily invested within the company than the CM role. There will be a lot of program management training, but I do have considerable experience managing projects/programs within my current role. Re the product, I've gotten confirmation there's a minimum 2 year runway.

The threshold question is whether to leave legal at this late stage, albeit as a non-lawyer. The crystal ball analysis for non-lawyers in legal seems to be that the economy is trending towards JDs (good for most of the people on this forum) and if you're a non-JD, toward project/program management, but not really negotiating contracts or giving product advice. In which case, it seems logical to get out now and have 5 years before I'm 40 investing in a new path, which is not altogether different from what I'm doing, but definitely is from an external standpoint (particularly for those that don't understand my role outside of legal).

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mtobeinf (Dec 11, 2016 - 5:55 pm)

U do u Scottie p. U do u. Seems ur mind is already made up. Follow ur path. No Ragrets. Not even a single letter.

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whiteguyinchina (Dec 11, 2016 - 7:19 pm)

if you arent moving forward, you are falling behind. when you get competent at one position, its time to move on and keep learning.

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paralawyer (Dec 16, 2016 - 3:10 pm)

bump. any other thoughts on this one?

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mtobeinf (Dec 16, 2016 - 6:26 pm)

I don't know man. F lawyers, really. Working for them has to be awful. I felt so much for the staff when I practiced. Got along w them best as well. I couldn't do it bc some jagoff w a law degree and superiority complex has to yell or be condescending all the time. I'm an asshole and I don't even try. It's a conundrum really. Leverage the skill set with what u learned and do whatever's best for u whether it's this opportunity or the next. And if it's just bc of complicity u don't want a change well that may just be low T. There's an app for that I think.

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jabberwocky (Jan 5, 2017 - 5:39 pm)

I'm in technology and have project & program managers reporting into me. Our company mandates the PMP designation (which the Project Management Institute awards) for any project or program manager.

The PMP certification is a walk in the park.

Generally speaking, contracts managers are considered more fungible than program managers. Your contracts background will actually help you since you will not be afraid of reading or understanding commercial contracts in the future, after you've established yourself as a project/program manager.

If you are attached to a product or even to the product group itself, and if you like dealing with external stakeholders (i.e. end-user clients), you can also transfer your commercial and project management skills to a field organization, or even to another company, more easily.

The ability to transfer to another company implies that project and program managers are also equally fungible (read: commoditized); indeed they are, yet the saving grace is that they are often considered slightly more favourably on the internal status totem pole. Another lens that people sometimes use is to consider that contract management is a purely risk-management/mitigation role, but products are the literal engine of future company growth.

Please inquire whether you will be formally reporting into the product group, or into a Project Management Office (PMO) which is sometimes a separate organization. PMO departments typically only exist in large organizations.

Good luck with your decision.

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paralawyer (Jan 12, 2017 - 2:57 pm)

Thanks much for this. This would be a position embedded directly within an emerging product within an establish tech company, not a PMO, working with engineers, PMs, and executives. There will be some work with external stakeholders as well, likely in the industry, but not end users.

Would your advice be to take this position given the potential upside, or is it more of a risk?

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paralawyer (Jan 13, 2017 - 5:43 pm)

bump

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jabberwocky (Jan 13, 2017 - 8:07 pm)

Based only on the information you've provided, I would take this position on the seemingly stronger career trajectory that aims for P&L responsibility down the road. I know that supply chain management ultimately does have terminal management positions charged with cost reduction targets and some strategic input, but I've seen more product program managers make the parallel jump to product management & marketing compared to supply chain managers.

Note that even if the emerging product starts to tank, as the product development program manager you will be in one of the best positions to keep your finger on the pulse. This means you can make plans accordingly to transition to another product or jump to a different department with your highly transferable domain knowledge & exposure to internal cross-functional stakeholders in a product-related position hopefully with enough early warning.

To cover your bases here, you should of course be reviewing the total compensation & benefits package difference between your current role and the new role. It's worth asking (or at least comparing) bonus incentives too. For example, some supply chain department bonuses are tied to the % they are able to negotiate vendors & contracts down, while product departments bonuses may be comped on delivery, development budget, revenue and/or booking targets.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

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paralawyer (Jan 13, 2017 - 11:33 pm)

Very helpful and good comment re P&L responsibility trajectory. I can't get into more detail but I do see it headed in that direction. Thank you!

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whipster (Dec 18, 2016 - 6:54 pm)

Do the new gig and get paid training in the new role. You can get certified in that shyte and never have to worry about finding a job ever again.

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paralawyer (Jan 12, 2017 - 1:59 pm)

thanks and bump

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