Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

hiring JD as secretary???

My secretary of several years is moving on to a larger highe smallyer05/14/17
It really depends on the JD. Someone who isn't admitted and wolfman05/15/17
JD secretary here. :) A lot will hinge on WHY they aren't qdllc05/15/17
I interviewed a foreign trained attorney for a secretary pos bucwild05/15/17
The biggest fear is the poaching of clients. Our legal assis thirdtierlaw05/15/17
I understand the hesitancy, but I'd certainly interview and jd4hire05/15/17
I'd say no, unless you hire qdllc or someone just like that. inho2solo05/15/17
JD qualifies as an assistant to a sec'y, and should be under sanka05/15/17
All the people worried about a J.D. secretary stealing clien mrtor05/15/17
I knew a firm that burned through associates so fast that no passportfan305/15/17
Include a headshot so I can help you decide. Unadmitted J isthisit05/15/17
this thread is sad.. can't believe JD's are applying to be s themapmaster05/15/17
What's even more sad is that we deal with an "adjuster" for qdllc05/16/17
My social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) are bucwild05/16/17
Facebook and Instagram, really? I can understand LinkedI wolfman05/16/17
None are ghetto. They are all white. Ironically, all of my b bucwild05/16/17
There is another aspect to this discussion. The JDs of today nighthawk05/16/17
Yep...it's easy to do well in a "lowly" position once you ab qdllc05/16/17
My firm is located near a city with a bottom-tier law school rainsofcastamere05/16/17
Isn't this true any time you hire a secretary? We hire many fettywap05/16/17
Secretary? I can't even land an unpaid internship . kretan18205/16/17
With any new hire you have to face the risk that they may no trickydick05/16/17
I can agree to this somewhat. I have two elderly parents. qdllc05/16/17
I applied to a couple of litigation paralegal positions with fettywap05/16/17
I posted a while back about this - basically the same experi bigbossman05/17/17

smallyer (May 14, 2017 - 10:38 pm)

My secretary of several years is moving on to a larger higher paying firm. I posted the job and needless to say I've been flooded with resumes including JD's.

Anyone on JDU have experience with this? Isn't the general rule of thumb not to hire a JD because they will think they know everything and quit to take an attorney position as soon as they find one?

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wolfman (May 15, 2017 - 12:56 am)

It really depends on the JD. Someone who isn't admitted and is preparing for the bar may be a good hire, as is someone who just needs a job... they probably won't want to be a secretary long-term but you can get really good help cheap for a while. Are you a small firm/solo? That may be a concern, you don't want an admitted atty poaching clients to hang up a shingle, but you gotta size the person up...

From personal experience, I am an ubadmitted JD who works as a paralegal at a large and supposedly "prestigious" government agency - which actually pays OK (that part is important).

So far, I'm doing well (knock on wood) and frankly I think my bosses are getting a great deal: someone who does the paralegal and secreatarial stuff with a smile (albeit maybe less efficiently than a legal secretary with twenty year of experience - but also with less of an attitude) and also does lawyer stuff that doesn't require a licence (like research issues, write memos, draft certain pleadings, etc.) I'm not planning to stay a paralegal forever, but so far it's an OK job and I feel like I'm adding a lot of value... on the other hand, I'm not a self-important jackass (something I'm learning is rare among law grads), so YMMV. Also govt vs small firm may be a different deal.

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qdllc (May 15, 2017 - 7:44 am)

JD secretary here. :)

A lot will hinge on WHY they aren't practicing. I chose to not practice law, and a former boss told me I made the right call...not having the temperament to deal with the nonsense that happens in courtrooms. Frankly, right now, I'm just needing a decent paycheck with benefits as I have elderly parents to look after. As my JD degree has locked me out of anything not law-related, I'm lucky I'm valued as a legal secretary. I technically could work as a paralegal, but that's like being the attorney with less pay.

My JD gives me a better appreciation for what needs to be done and how to best do it than perhaps an ordinary secretary would have. While I don't presume to tell my "boss" how to do his job, sometimes I spot things that don't look right, so I bring them to his attention. The attorneys in my office make a good deal of mistakes that I catch AFTER they've supposedly proofread and signed the papers to go out. Also, a lawyer could always bounce his thoughts off of me because I've had the same analytical legal training to see if I notice a different angle on an issue.

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bucwild (May 15, 2017 - 7:44 am)

I interviewed a foreign trained attorney for a secretary position last year. Didn't hire her b/c I wanted someone long term and I suspected she would attend law school soon. My thoughts were confirmed when discussing her ambitions with colleagues familiar with her.

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thirdtierlaw (May 15, 2017 - 8:33 am)

The biggest fear is the poaching of clients. Our legal assistant is the face of the firm. All the attorneys in the office spend a ridiculous amount of time in court and for the most part we do not give our cellphone number to our clients. So many times the legal assistant is the go between person. She never has to give the clients bad news and always appears extremely responsive, i.e. she is at her desk from 8:30-5.

So I could see a bunch of clients leaving with her if she was a J.D. and wanted to start her own practice.

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jd4hire (May 15, 2017 - 9:25 am)

I understand the hesitancy, but I'd certainly interview and ask key questions - are you doing this temporarily, do you plan on leaving, will you be actively seeking an attorney position.

You could do a huge service to JDs desperately seeking employment. Further, you could get a great secretary, even if temporary.

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inho2solo (May 15, 2017 - 4:04 pm)

I'd say no, unless you hire qdllc or someone just like that.

Basically what everyone else said about needing to know what the person's really looking for, long term, I'll echo.

We had a secretary/admin assistant who was a PhD, JD (or claimed to be - never was positive on either, although we were certain she was not barred/never practiced).

She'd send emails with the sig line, "Jennifer Surname, PhD, JD, Esquire" and the attorneys she supported asked her not to because it was confusing the client groups. Then the next thing you know she's taking calls and giving out legal advice contradicting the attorneys.

In another company we had an admin who'd completed 2 years and was "always planning to go back and finish" and she'd argue with her attorneys over the most idiotic misunderstandings of the law.

Luckily, I never worked directly with either of them but in both cases was close enough down the hall to hear some heated conversations. And of course both were eventually let go.

So, screen the heck out of them, trust but verify, proceed cautiously, etc.

But that's not what I do. I've been in the unfortunate position to need to hire a new paralegal twice in the last six years and we get flooded with JD resumes. I tell the screeners that those go in the circular file and not to bother me with them.

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sanka (May 15, 2017 - 4:08 pm)

JD qualifies as an assistant to a sec'y, and should be underpaid accordingly. Best to hire two people: said JD plus h.s. dropout with sec'y certificate to boss said JD around the office.

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mrtor (May 15, 2017 - 4:31 pm)

All the people worried about a J.D. secretary stealing clients.. really? Come on, people. No one is going to respect a J.D.-turned-secretary-turned-lawyer enough to move their business.

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passportfan3 (May 15, 2017 - 4:49 pm)

I knew a firm that burned through associates so fast that no associates were mentioned on the web site.

But they would never hire a JD for a non-attorney position because "they will leave right away."

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isthisit (May 15, 2017 - 4:54 pm)

Include a headshot so I can help you decide.

Unadmitted J.D.: Yes
Admitted J.D.: No

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themapmaster (May 15, 2017 - 10:29 pm)

this thread is sad.. can't believe JD's are applying to be secretaries. it doesn't seem useful at all to have a JD for purposes of being a legal secretary. sure, having a JD indicates a certain level of intelligence and ability of the applicant, but it's crazy to pay tuition at law school for three years and/or invest one's time for three years for that function of a law degree

if you can't pay enough to retain a non-JD secretary, fat chance you can pay enough to retain a JD secretary. so if you think you can hire one and hold onto him/her for a long period of time, you are being naive. no matter how likable you are to work for.

my experience is what the applicant for secretary says during the interview, or his/her attitude during it, should be treated with a healthy dose of cynicism.

i can understand a mid-sized or large firm hiring a JD to be a paralegal under certain circumstances, or firm administrator, but those are about the only circumstances in which I think it would make sense to hire a JD for a non-attorney position

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qdllc (May 16, 2017 - 9:34 am)

What's even more sad is that we deal with an "adjuster" for a client who signs her e-mails with "JD" after her name.

Much is about a person's humility. We have a "secretary" who is tasked with some paralegal duties (and a billable hour requirement), but she remains classified as a secretary and paid an hourly wage (paralegals are salary employees). She signs her e-mails as if she's a paralegal, but she's had no formal training or education, no prior experience, no certification, etc. as a paralegal. So, you can imagine how our traditional paralegal feels about this...especially since she's not at that place where she could claim to have earned the title by proving she can do the job.

I deliberately try to not draw attention to my level of education at work. It's a pointless bragging right that ultimately means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Also, I don't think JDs are wanting to be secretaries, but when your degree cuts off more lucrative opportunities because employers presume you will leave to be a lawyer, the legal profession is the only field that will still take you in. The more I try to get away from working in a law office, the more I'm shoehorned into it.

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bucwild (May 16, 2017 - 10:07 am)

My social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) are littered with people who place "J.D." or "Esq." after their names. Without exception, they are law school grads who never practiced law. It's kind of sad that they need to remind people of their formal education they are not using.

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wolfman (May 16, 2017 - 12:24 pm)

Facebook and Instagram, really?

I can understand LinkedIn, I suppose (of course, I'd never dream of having mine on there, unless maybe if I were in an academic job where listing your degrees is pretty much required... even then, that's what your CV is for).

These people must be either autistic or utterly clueless/ghetto.

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bucwild (May 16, 2017 - 12:28 pm)

None are ghetto. They are all white. Ironically, all of my black law school colleagues are gainfully employed.

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nighthawk (May 16, 2017 - 9:36 am)

There is another aspect to this discussion. The JDs of today are not like the JDs of yesteryear. Back in the day, a JD had open doors and believed that s/he can be successful. A JD secretary would be difficult because the secretary would think s/he is too good for the job and knows as much as the lawyers. In this market, JDs feel beaten down by the system. Many are hopeless. Being a secretary beats doc review because there might be benefits and the work touches on substantive areas of the law. Doc review has no benefits and is totally brainless. If there is fierce competition for doc review then hiring a JD secretary should not be a bad idea.

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qdllc (May 16, 2017 - 12:03 pm)

Yep...it's easy to do well in a "lowly" position once you abandon hope. (lol)

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rainsofcastamere (May 16, 2017 - 11:04 am)

My firm is located near a city with a bottom-tier law school, and we've tried this twice. I've learned that it entirely depends on the person.

The first JD we hired as a legal assistant lasted about five weeks. She had a terrible attitude, bad demeanor and body language, had obviously accepted the job just to accept a job. Got pissy when asked to do things that she apparently thought were "beneath" her, even though we made no bones about the fact that she was being hired as a legal assistant and not a lawyer. She's failed the bar twice and as far as I know is not currently employed.

The other one was outstanding and is a valuable member of our team over a year after being hired. She has a terrific attitude and does great work, always asking good questions and learning. It remains to be seen if we'll ever offer her anything beyond legal assistant work, but we'd certainly give a glowing recommendation for her to any firm that offered her.

Conclusion: hiring a JD secretary/legal assistant can certainly work out, but buyer beware. Be VERY selective.

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fettywap (May 16, 2017 - 11:43 am)

Isn't this true any time you hire a secretary? We hire many every year. A few work out. The rest are a disaster. I don't think it makes a difference whether they have a JD or not.

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kretan182 (May 16, 2017 - 12:20 pm)

Secretary? I can't even land an unpaid internship .

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trickydick (May 16, 2017 - 1:17 pm)

With any new hire you have to face the risk that they may not work out. With a JD hire, you face the near certainty that this person will leave relatively soon to continue their efforts to move on to something better, whether that involves staying in law or getting out.

The right secretary may stay with you for years or decades and consider themselves a success, the JD hire would consider themselves a failure if they allowed that to be their fate and won't let it happen...and if they do, that's probably not someone you want on your team.

Put me on the side against hiring a JD secretary.

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qdllc (May 16, 2017 - 3:19 pm)

I can agree to this somewhat.

I have two elderly parents. I half-serious told my boss that until I plant them both in the ground, I'm pretty much stuck in the area. I have to be here to help them out and ultimately manage their estates when they are gone as I'm the only family member in the area. As much as I'd like to go elsewhere or take a better opportunity, I'm bound to these obligations, and frankly, the job market here stinks, so I'm actually better off as a secretary in my current firm than most any other job realistically available to me.

Granted, a judge (former boss) vouched for me from when I was his secretary (and he wants me back working for him), so I had that going for me as well.

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fettywap (May 16, 2017 - 3:30 pm)

I applied to a couple of litigation paralegal positions with firms last year. They paid $50,000 a year and I would be doing more legal work there than I am at my current so-called "attorney" job. I probably wouldn't be looking for another job now if I had been hired for one of those jobs. Who cares about title when the job sucks?

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bigbossman (May 17, 2017 - 10:34 pm)

I posted a while back about this - basically the same experience. Posted a job for a part time secretary and received many JD applicants, a couple licensed people and several LLMs. I thought it was ridiculous. Ended up hiring a very nice older lady who was semi-retired with lots of experience, with no JD. She does a lot of secretary work like formatting briefs, and scanning tons of crap and seems quite happy with the position (been like 6 months now).

I can not imagine any JD with a shred of dignity enjoying doing those types of tasks for low pay for any amount of time whatsoever. Seriously, restaurants and retail surely pay more than I do for low end hourly help. Makes no sense to me whatsoever.

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