Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Paralegal Education: Blackstone or Boston University online? Have an "old" J.D.

I know, I know...OTJ training to be a paralegal is best. My blackwidow11/29/17
Do the minimum necessary to qualify you to take the national kaneloa11/29/17
Forgot to add that the Blackstone course is 920 hours but go blackwidow11/29/17
Do you still have the child? esquire13811/29/17
Yes...she still is on an IEP in school but doing MUCH better blackwidow11/29/17
Do not spend money on any more education. It will be a terri guyingorillasuit11/30/17
Guyingorillasuit, I'm primarily focusing on the paralegal ed blackwidow11/30/17
Honestly, drafting legal documents is not rocket science. If guyingorillasuit11/30/17
I think your best bet would be to target small firms. They d therover11/30/17
Given that the child lives with the ex, I recommend expandin mrtor11/30/17
What happens when you Google your name? Does it mention the esquire13811/30/17
Big law isn't hiring her anyways. No experience plus her age therover11/30/17
I mean even the big mills that would hire off the street fol esquire13811/30/17
If you think you have the mental capacity for some of the he isthisit11/30/17
Also I have never worked at a firm that had paralegals do an therewillbeblood11/30/17
I thank all of you for your suggestions and feedback. I' blackwidow11/30/17
You have to be in it to win it. Whenever you apply for a job nighthawk11/30/17
Thanks nighthawk..paralegal just seems to jive the most with blackwidow11/30/17
Have you considered temp agencies to get experience? Maybe d esquire13811/30/17
Looked into doc review? Thought you needed to be licensed in blackwidow11/30/17
Some require it but not all. I did a lot in bar prep and bef esquire13811/30/17
Dream job? Why? Wouldn't you prefer a steady paralegal gig t nighthawk11/30/17
Didn't realize it was a toxic environment. I said it was my blackwidow11/30/17
Before I was licensed, I worked for a small mom-and-pop law guyingorillasuit12/01/17
age will really go against you. but its worth a shot over co whiteguyinchina12/01/17
People give doc review a hard time, but they are trying to b esquire13812/01/17
esquire138 THANK YOU! blackwidow12/01/17
Glad to help. You go to the links I provided?find anything c esquire13812/01/17
https://detroit.craigslist.org/okl/ lgl/d/seeking-jds-for-red esquire13812/01/17
What if I did take a bar from ANY jurisdiction, such as Sout blackwidow12/01/17
It would increase places you can apply and hourly pay both y esquire13812/01/17
Want a funner trip since it's planetrip either way? Palau. O esquire13812/01/17
True, but not considered a U.S. jurisdiction-still have to p blackwidow12/01/17
Where does it say one of the 50 states? I have only read ABA esquire13812/01/17
It is still a concern, but I have done some research and, si blackwidow12/01/17
If its a concern, I think you can do the C&F part before tak esquire13812/01/17
Actually, its only a 120 MBE http://www.palausupremecourt.n esquire13812/01/17
I see what you're saying: Take the MBE there and then transf blackwidow12/01/17
Is one way to do it, but I'm 99% sure you could convince the esquire13812/01/17
I think you're the first person in about two years who's tol blackwidow12/01/17
I'd say do docreview to start and try to build a practice on esquire13812/02/17
esquire138 Thank you again for all the advice. I appreciate blackwidow12/02/17

blackwidow (Nov 29, 2017 - 3:39 pm)

I know, I know...OTJ training to be a paralegal is best. My case is different, however.

I graduated from the University of Toledo College of Law in 1997. I took the Ohio Bar in 2000 and missed passing it by 12 points. Three months later I was married and my (now) ex-husband and I adopted a special needs little girl from Guatemala and I immediately had to stop working outside the home to tend to our child. My legal experience is scant and outdated: Law Clerk to a common pleas court judge for two years in law school and four months working as a "paralegal" to an attorney when I was first married. I have not worked since 2000, I'm divorced, and 53 years old.

I have gone to numerous interviews for legal secretarial and paralegal positions here in northern Ohio and zip, nada, "you aren't a trained paralegal-you're a lawyer", etc. etc. I don't believe it would be worth the money, time, and effort to re-take the Ohio bar, or any other jurisdiction, citing my age, length of time since I studied law, and my very poor credit as a result of the divorce (I would NEVER make it through a NCBE character review; in addition to the financial problems I also was suicidal and extremely depressed right after the divorce less than two years ago.)

I believe the only skill set and education I can fall back on at this point is the law. And even though I only achieved a 2.5 gpa in law school, I do love the law and desire to pursue a career in some aspect of the law.

So, please feel free to correct me here, but if I do return to school online for a paralegal certificate, should I go for Boston Un. at $3995, 300 hours over 14 weeks or should I go for the cheaper option of Blackstone Career Institute for Paralegal Studies at $1400 self-paced and try to finish in about six months?

ANY advice appreciated. Thanks.

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kaneloa (Nov 29, 2017 - 8:51 pm)

Do the minimum necessary to qualify you to take the national certification test at NALA. That should be more than enough. Go to nala.org for details.

Meanwhile, the best paralegal program in the country is probably GWU. They offer a master's degree in paralegal studies. It's entirely online. And it's probably pretty damned expensive.

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blackwidow (Nov 29, 2017 - 3:41 pm)

Forgot to add that the Blackstone course is 920 hours but goes back to the very, very fundamentals of law..think our Orientation week of law school..and it does not delve into legal research and writing until the last four months of the course, whereas B.U. jumps right in to legal writing. As I said, I have forgotten much of my law school training.

Thanks again.

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esquire138 (Nov 29, 2017 - 6:17 pm)

Do you still have the child?

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blackwidow (Nov 29, 2017 - 9:56 pm)

Yes...she still is on an IEP in school but doing MUCH better. She lives with my ex-husband; her choice. She wanted to stay in the same school district. She's a sophomore in high school right now. Ex-husband doesn't pay me any support so I need to work at SOMETHING. I've been getting by doing legal typing for local firms.

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guyingorillasuit (Nov 30, 2017 - 1:31 am)

Do not spend money on any more education. It will be a terrible waste. You need to find someone who will hire you because you offer to work hard for low pay, and are interested in learning. Then you can use 2 or 3 years of experience you get at the first job to get a better job.

Your age and your JD are both unhelpful in your situation. This can all be mitigated if you get 2 or 3 years of experience, and don't mention your JD in your next job application. Then, you are a regular divorced homemaker mom coming back to the workforce, and you will have everyone's sympathies. Things are more relaxed in small firms. The pay is not as good, but you will find a place.

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blackwidow (Nov 30, 2017 - 1:41 am)

Guyingorillasuit, I'm primarily focusing on the paralegal education because I have forgotten how to draft any kind of legal document and do any type of legal research. I think I need a refresher. I consider the rest of your comment to be great advice.

Sometimes I think trying to go back to law is a pipe dream and I should just go to cosmetology school lol.

Seriously, if law is a poor choice for a career path given my background, someone plz just be brutally honest.

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guyingorillasuit (Nov 30, 2017 - 3:18 am)

Honestly, drafting legal documents is not rocket science. If you are willing to sit down with a few samples, ask some questions, and re-assure the person you are working with that you are not going to leave the job in the next 12 months, you will be ok. If someone catches the scent that you won't stay for at least a year, you probably don't need to even interview, because training people is a major time investment. Training you costs thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, way way more than you are actually getting paid. The positive thing is that if you are willing to learn, and are reasonably sharp, you can catch on quickly.

As far as legal education goes, I would value an email from a colleague saying "blackwidow is a good paralegal" much more than some expensive degree. Make local connections, do good work, and you will be successful in 2 or 3 years.

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therover (Nov 30, 2017 - 8:59 am)

I think your best bet would be to target small firms. They don't care if you have a paralegal certificate. They need some who will catch on quick, do a variety things and show some initiative.

Look at the ads near you and figure out what types of positions are sought most often (real estate, estate planning, litigation) and then study up on that. Do targeted cover letters. Are you good with people? Play that up. Someone who can interview and manage clients and keep them happy and informed is a huge benefit to many firms.

If you need a refresher on legal research find an online tutorial. Honestly many paralegals will never need legal research anyway which is why you need to target you area.

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mrtor (Nov 30, 2017 - 9:25 am)

Given that the child lives with the ex, I recommend expanding your geographical search. While you probably want to be as close as possible, the reality of your situation may demand moving 1-2 hours away to find work. As others have said, focus on smaller firms who are less stringent with their prerequisites. You also need to write a killer cover letter. I think your JD could help you if you frame your situation correctly. You need to sell your skills (stretch the truth -- self-study and pick it up as you go along) while controlling your ambitions. You are highly qualified for a non-attorney legal role so long as they do not fear you moving on for greener pastures as soon as another opportunity arises. You need to figure out how to convey that in your letter and in your interview.

Ultimately, law seems to be contracting. If you continue to strike out, I think you should seriously consider re-educating in a new field. You can obtain some healthcare certificates in 1-2 years and will have multiple job offers on graduation. I know my org is offering $1-5k cash referral fees for people who help recruit our most in-demand positions (i.e., respiratory techs, radiology techs, nurses, etc.). You will also probably have a secure job for the next 10-15 years until retirement. A law firm may try to bump you out as you get older. The job security, work environment, health insurance, benefits, etc. are worth the longer time investment to get into healthcare.

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esquire138 (Nov 30, 2017 - 10:12 am)

What happens when you Google your name? Does it mention the jd graduation or similar? Big firms do 3rd party background search companies now. Those will show your credit issues. Any arrests?

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therover (Nov 30, 2017 - 10:46 am)

Big law isn't hiring her anyways. No experience plus her age.

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esquire138 (Nov 30, 2017 - 10:49 am)

I mean even the big mills that would hire off the street folks of any age and experience.

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isthisit (Nov 30, 2017 - 10:53 am)

If you think you have the mental capacity for some of the healthcare specialities than pursue that while working as a legal assistant. There are jobs in that field.

If you want to do paralegal work than I'd just do the quickest and cheapest program out there. Legal writing, research, and analysis is not a hard science. Plus all firms already have templates. After a month OTJ you'll be more than prepared to ready generic answers, complaints, research, runs to the Post/Starbucks, etc.

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therewillbeblood (Nov 30, 2017 - 3:15 pm)

Also I have never worked at a firm that had paralegals do any sort of legal writing or research. They basically focused on discovery work, document organization, timelines, factual investigation, handling and processing service, etc.. Present yourself as organized, good time management skills, and basically knowledgeable about how the law works and that might get you in the door somewhere.

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blackwidow (Nov 30, 2017 - 11:54 am)

I thank all of you for your suggestions and feedback.

I've tried careers in health care but ultimately my severe asthma has been an impediment to working with patients, along with a knee injury from a car accident several years ago. Simply put, I cannot work around sick people or germs and I cannot stand for long periods of time.

Hence, my throwing all my eggs in the "legal" basket. Yes, I have decided to go the quickest, cheapest route for the paralegal "brush up" education and then do some incredible self marketing in order to land a position at a small firm.

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nighthawk (Nov 30, 2017 - 11:59 am)

You have to be in it to win it. Whenever you apply for a job and go for an interview, you need to communicate with the potential employer that he/she/they should hire you because you have the skills necessary to be successful for that position. If you last worked in 2000 then there are questions, from an employer perspective, whether you have the requisite skills.

If someone who has serious clout can recommend you for a job then you probably don't need any paralegal certificate. If not, then you need to demonstrate that you have skills. While employers feel sad about your personal situation (difficult divorce, special needs daughter, age, debt etc.), they care more about themselves and what you can do for them. What you need financially is not relevant to their business. Therefore, you should pursue the paralegal certificate because coming in with a paralegal certificate, in combination with your legal background, makes you a candidate for a paralegal job. Your unfortunate circumstances does not make a god candidate.

Re which course you should take, it depends on your target market. Toledo is a small market and most of the work would be for small firms looking for help but do not want to hire another lawyer. They would lien on you to produce documents so they can check over. Any sort of paralegal certificate would work. If that is the circumstance, take the cheaper one.

If you are targeting corporations, e.g. an insurance company that is involved in auto accidents, it may better to get the more prestigious certificate if you have limited work experience. It really depends on the potential in your market and what you are looking to do.

Re your age, there is nothing you can do about it. If a paralegal makes the most sense then do that.

Best of luck to you.

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blackwidow (Nov 30, 2017 - 1:19 pm)

Thanks nighthawk..paralegal just seems to jive the most with my not-so-recent work experience. And no, have no attorney friends anymore to vouch for me. Live in Sandusky Ohio halfway b/w Toledo and Cleveland. Elderly mother and I'm an only child, father deceased, no other relatives. But I can easily commute.

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esquire138 (Nov 30, 2017 - 2:30 pm)

Have you considered temp agencies to get experience? Maybe do jdprefered docreview?

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blackwidow (Nov 30, 2017 - 3:44 pm)

Looked into doc review? Thought you needed to be licensed in any US jurisdiction to do it?
Doing doc review, oddly enough, would be my dream job.

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esquire138 (Nov 30, 2017 - 5:24 pm)

Some require it but not all. I did a lot in bar prep and before swearing in. Many allow unlicensed jd. Search for jd prefered and ask major temp companies about it too. Craigslist is a good resource.I searched your area. It looks like You need to be ok with with relocating or lengthy commuting to michigan. Would that be ok to you?

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nighthawk (Nov 30, 2017 - 5:42 pm)

Dream job? Why? Wouldn't you prefer a steady paralegal gig that pays better and is more intellectually challenging than doc review? Also, doc review nation is depressing. The people there are hopeless and pigeoned holed themselves to their fate. They will tell you how horrible the world is. Plus you have to deal with a ticked off chick as your manager who is bitter at the world that she cannot get out of doc review. Based on your story, you dealt with a lot of stuff. Why rekindle that in a toxic doc review environment?

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blackwidow (Nov 30, 2017 - 11:09 pm)

Didn't realize it was a toxic environment. I said it was my dream job because I always figured it had little human interaction and primarily dealt with "words"...the introvert side of me coming out, I suppose. Thanks for the heads up.

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guyingorillasuit (Dec 1, 2017 - 1:33 am)

Before I was licensed, I worked for a small mom-and-pop law firm, and I loved it. They took me in like a family member, and I am still grateful to them to this day. The money they paid me was enough to live on, and they taught me a whole lot about life and about the practice of law. If you find an environment like this, I think your life would be much better than doc review. Doc review is where souls go to die. It's the end of the road.

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whiteguyinchina (Dec 1, 2017 - 8:55 am)

age will really go against you. but its worth a shot over cosmotology school.
i can imagine some attys wanting more mature paralegals/office managers, but you have no experience. its tough. good luck.

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 10:11 am)

People give doc review a hard time, but they are trying to be LAWYERS. If you want to be mostly left alone and do drone work, its fine. Expect some crybabies, but you can get that with a bad office anywhere.

I say give it a shot. Go from there. Age doesn't matter there. I have seen all ages. No one cares about your age in docreview.

They tend to be flexible in hours too, so that would help if you commute, or want to visit your kid, or want to take master degree classes on the side.

You could do it while getting the degree and have something to put on the resume in recent work history while waiting to do apply to the paralegal work that you wouldn't apply to until post masters degree too.

People here are lawyers and thinking as lawyers. You are in that limbo between lawyer an not lawyer. Its a bit diferent. Do you.

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blackwidow (Dec 1, 2017 - 12:33 pm)

esquire138 THANK YOU!

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 12:38 pm)

Glad to help. You go to the links I provided?find anything closer?

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 10:14 am)

https://detroit.craigslist.org/okl/lgl/d/seeking-jds-for-redaction/6369509705.html

no license required



benefit of having a license? Free coffee. And bright windows.
https://detroit.craigslist.org/okl/lgl/d/document-review-attorney/6380387212.html

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blackwidow (Dec 1, 2017 - 5:29 pm)

What if I did take a bar from ANY jurisdiction, such as South Dakota, where the passage rate is almost 94% (with proper preparation and studying, of course)...Would it make it easier to find a job in Cleveland or Columbus in doc review? Would I be able to do any remote work for doc review or is such a thing non-existent?

Finally, I have noticed numerous paralegals in Ohio advertising their services independent of a law firm on websites. Is this a viable option? Working remotely would be ideal.

Thank you again for all the great advice.

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 6:11 pm)

It would increase places you can apply and hourly pay both yes.

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 6:11 pm)

Want a funner trip since it's planetrip either way? Palau. Only takes a 122 mbe. Still aba.

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blackwidow (Dec 1, 2017 - 7:56 pm)

True, but not considered a U.S. jurisdiction-still have to pass a bar in one of the 50 states.

Is the Ohio bar exam notoriously difficult to pass? Pass rate on last February was less than 50%. I'm actually seeking the easiest bar of the 50 states...partially due to the length of time since I attended school and took the Ohio bar.

Or should I just bite the bullet and try for Ohio again? Or am I fooling myself?

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 8:01 pm)

Where does it say one of the 50 states? I have only read ABA. Remember PR isn't a state. VI isn't a state. DC isn't a state. You think DC lawyers cant be doc review?

As to your last question, I would pick one that lets you keep your MBE if you fail it. That way you can focus on the MBE first time (ace it) and then focus on the essays the next time. It would take two exams but result in a pass. Some flyover states allow this.

You mentioned in your first post being worried about character review. Is that no longer a concern?

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blackwidow (Dec 1, 2017 - 8:15 pm)

It is still a concern, but I have done some research and, since I am being successfully treated for my depression, I believe my only hurdle will be the credit problems. Most were caused by my ex husband and his drinking and drug problems. I wonder if I made payment arrangements with the creditors I have if that would be sufficient to pass the C and F exam?

Or am I fooling myself? Have read horror stories about bad credit and being denied right to take the bar exam. I owe less than $4000 in credit card debt.

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 8:29 pm)

If its a concern, I think you can do the C&F part before taking the exam. Maybe start with that step?

It sounds like you have it all together. I think you'd be ok.

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 7:52 pm)

Actually, its only a 120 MBE
http://www.palausupremecourt.net/upload/P1408/15423025410944.pdf

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blackwidow (Dec 1, 2017 - 8:11 pm)

I see what you're saying: Take the MBE there and then transfer the score to a US state.

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esquire138 (Dec 1, 2017 - 8:35 pm)

Is one way to do it, but I'm 99% sure you could convince the docreview mills that it was acceptable. If you wanted to actually practice real law though, then yeah.

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blackwidow (Dec 1, 2017 - 8:37 pm)

I think you're the first person in about two years who's told me that I "have it all together" LOL.

Should I just try to pass the Ohio bar and practice law here? Solo practitioner? Or is that a great way to starve to death?

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esquire138 (Dec 2, 2017 - 12:19 am)

I'd say do docreview to start and try to build a practice on the side
You can also contract with appearance agencies in the larger Ohio cities. Just check craigslist every now and then and they will pop up along with docreview jobs.

For now, I'd focus more on getting licensed.

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blackwidow (Dec 2, 2017 - 9:58 am)

esquire138 Thank you again for all the advice. I appreciate it.

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