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Virtual Paralegalism

The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism

Paralegals, Watch Your Backs! Out-of-Work Lawyers Want Your Jobs

I’ll confess I was a little surprised when I read the Long Island Business News story, “Out-of-work lawyers try to be paralegals, secretaries” because I just blogged about the recent Suffolk Law grads that complained about receiving an ad for an available paralegal position on their career services listserv. From the reaction, you’d think they’d been offered the opportunity to put their law degrees to work swabbing floors at a fast food restaurant.

Maybe those law students haven’t been hungry long enough.

With the recession spurring legal layoffs across the country – 5,190 lawyers at major law firms have been laid off since Jan. 1, 2008, according to, a Web site that tracks legal layoffs – out-of-work attorneys are willing to work in the legal industry as paralegals, law librarians and legal secretaries.

However, they’re not getting hired.

And they’re not getting hired, not because they’re over-educated, but because they lack the specialized training to work in paralegal, legal assistant and law librarian jobs. Plus, employers are reluctant to hire someone that will likely quit as soon as a position as a lawyer becomes available.

So maybe paralegals don’t have to watch their backs so closely. But the fact that some law firms are receiving a significant number of resumes from unemployed lawyers for administrative assistant positions is indicative of today’s extremely competitive job market. Add to that the fact that experienced unemployed paralegals are applying for these entry level positions as well, and that means that every applicant for a paralegal job has to be at the top of his or her job search game.

3 Responses to Paralegals, Watch Your Backs! Out-of-Work Lawyers Want Your Jobs

  1. egads, that is depressing. I am gearing up for a para job search in Austin. Salaries are low and competition is high – good times.

  2. No worries, girl, you have mad skills, and I know you're going to land a great job. Plus, the article and related blog posts that have cropped up since, make it clear that unemployed lawyers are not usually the preferred candidates for paralegal and other legal staffer positions.

  3. For what it's worth, my experience up here in Canada is quite consistent with Lynne's view. I am a former lawyer with a Masters degree in archival studies, and I have never been so much as interviewed for legal assistant/paralegal/law library jobs, many of which I have applied for when out of work. That I can't seem to get law librarian work is a little galling, as I do have some relevant training and experience (archival training and experience, and years of work as a freelance digester for the legal publishing industry). I suspect the certified paralegals are very much preferred, and so you should be able to find a suitable situation if the recession hasn't bitten too hard in Austin.

Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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