Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paralegals: Are You Committed To Your Career?

Something I read recently made me curious:

I have a penchant for legal novels and just read A Cure For Night by Justin Peacock. Here's a brief description of the book from

Yale Law School graduate Justin Peacock's legal experience serves him well for this intense novel in the tradition of such genre luminaries as Scott Turow and Richard Price. A Cure for Night features Joel Deveraux, a former corporate-law hotshot whose downward slide finds him plying his trade at Brooklyn's Public Defender's office. Thrust into a high-profile case involving black-on-white crime, Joel quickly discovers he is in over his head.

What the review doesn't tell you is that Beth, the paralegal working with Joel Deveraux, dies in the second chapter of Mr. Peacock's book. Beth is romantically involved with Joel Deveraux and introduces him to heroin. When Beth dies of a drug overdose in the bathroom at Walker Bentley, the prestigious firm where they both work, Joel's personal and professional life falls apart. He ends up with a six-month suspension from the practice of law and then takes a job at the Public Defender's office where he becomes involved with a murder trial....and, of course, another woman.

But back to Beth who is 22 years old and fresh out of Barnard College. Here's the comment Joel makes that has me thinking:

"There were two distinct kinds of paralegals at Walker Bentley. On one hand were the lifers, people who had been working as paralegals for years and were making it a career. On the other hand were recent college grads testing the waters for a year or two before either heading off to law school themselves or dropping the idea entirely and moving on to something else."

Now I'm wondering if this statement is true? I understand that people change their minds and decide to take other career paths. However, I find it difficult to believe that the young people entering the paralegal profession are really only 'testing the waters' and planning to move on from the get go. I'd like your opinion. Please participate in the poll in the sidebar and let me know what you think.



WendyNC said...

I voted for making it my life's work because, after 20+ years, I already did.

Wendy Kimbel, ACP, NCCP
Paralegal Assistance, Inc.

Unknown said...

While I fell into the legal field, I have made being a great paralegal my life's work. However, I do know of several young college graduates at the law firm I work for that are "testing the waters" to see if they want to pursue law school or a different field altogether. I believe that most Gen-Y'ers are making this choice.

The Goodwill Fangirl said...

I guess the previous "Paralegal Dies" title might have been viewed as a deterrent to committing to a paralegal career? :) (Or did someone who hadn't read the book yell, "Spoiler!") But it was definitely attention-getting!

Seriously, it's an amazing field for curious people who love to research and organize information. Keep up the great work on your blog, Vicki!

(In a creepy "Big Brother" aside, my word verification for this comment is "dowsg". It's like the [slightly dyslexic] computer knows me and my fondness for de