This is a guest post from Paralegaledu.org and may be a good alternative for those of you who do not want to take the bar exam, want to remain in the legal field, or want some more legal experience. The article also discusses how being a paralegal first can help you in your bar exam. Enjoy!
From passing your LSATs to being at the top of your law school class, the last few years have been arduous, to say the least. With the bar exam being the last roadblock to a successful law career, you may be inclined to attempt it sooner than later.
But, as most lawyers can attest, the bar exam is both intensive and extensive, and coming to the table with real-world law experience can very well mean the difference between success and failure. The road to becoming a lawyer is a long one, and choosing to take a detour, if it means bettering your chances of long-term success, should be considered. In particular, a professional detour often considered by law student graduates is to find work as a paralegal. You can find helpful paralegal education and career information at Paralegaledu.org.
Choosing to pursue a career as a paralegal before taking the bar exam has a number of benefits for the recent law student graduate:
Theory and real-world experience are two distinctly different things.
You’ve spent the last three years studying law theory and general legal principles but have yet to apply them in a real-world setting. Because the bar exam requires you to have a thorough understanding of both state and common law, the best place to achieve this knowledge and apply those learned principles in a professional setting is through a paralegal job. This type of experience will translate well when it comes time to take the bar exam. The confidence that can be gained by working as a paralegal is simply unmatched.
State-specific information is best learned on the job.
Because the first part of the bar exam will likely cover your state’s issuing laws, you will need to become an expert. And the best way to do so is through on-the-job experience. Learning about your state’s laws can be done with a book or a course, although fully understanding the background of these laws, the variances in these laws, and how these laws are applied in real-world settings can only be achieved in a professional setting. And a paralegal job is just the place to do this. Really understanding all of the nuances of laws – not just being able to cite them – often means the difference between success and failure on the bar exam.
A paralegal performs many of the same duties as a lawyer.
What better way to prep yourself for a career as a lawyer than actually performing many of the same duties as a lawyer? Although there are a select few things that paralegals are not legally permitted to do, such as give legal advice, they are generally able to perform much of the same duties and tasks as lawyers, including: drafting pleadings, researching case law, interviewing clients, investigating legal cases, drafting contracts, filing cases with the court, and obtaining affidavits. In other words, a job as a paralegal may very well be the best way to prepare for the bar exam!
Beyond the bar exam, a paralegal may have more professional opportunities.
Paralegals who pass the bar exam may have quite an advantage over other new lawyers without law experience. Paralegals-turned-lawyers are familiar with practice, procedure, etiquette, and even unspoken rules, which often makes them a valuable asset to a law firm. In other words, the transition period for a new lawyer who has extensive experience in the field of law will always be shorter, thereby making them a smarter investment for the firm.