Many paralegals use the profession as a stepping stone to becoming a lawyer someday. A great number of graduates from different paralegal schools are usually half-hearted about whether or not practicing law is their true calling. So they decided to pursue this career, thinking it could benefit them later on.
At first, this does seem to make sense: paralegals in law offices work side-by-side with experienced attorneys and get to eat and breathe everything legal on a daily basis. For the practical, penetrating the industry as a paralegal should give you a glimpse of what the real legal world is like. It’s a move to test the waters, and see if you’re going to be drawn to the lifestyle attorneys of all kinds live for.
However, to think that transitioning from paralegal to lawyer abides by the rules of logic is a misconception. In many cases, your assumptions are wrong.
It Doesn’t Make Your Application More Competitive
Believing that working as a paralegal could make your law school application more impressive doesn’t always hold true. The admission’s committee tend to associate the profession to administrative duties without less exposure to in-depth legal tasks.
Unless you can describe your paralegal experience in a way that can seriously impress the law school’s admission’s committee, this career would only show your general interest in law at best.
It Doesn’t Give You Substantial Legal Experience
Paralegal work may only gain you a wealth of legal experience if you perform tasks lawyers themselves would otherwise perform. This opportunity is usually available in small and non-profit firms. But in larger law offices and corporations, the responsibilities of a paralegal tend to be administrative.
Many members of the law academe still consider the roles of a paralegal greatly different to those of a bona fide lawyer. Therefore, your paralegal experience may not always add weight to your application.
It Doesn’t Necessarily Make You More Marketable
In general, the consensus is that working as a paralegal before attending law school wouldn’t help you land jobs down the road. Again, despite the higher prestige paralegals are enjoying in the legal community these days, a portion of the industry still recognizes the profession a galaxy away from that of a lawyer.
If you’re really undecided, there’s no stopping you from pursuing a paralegal profession before chasing a career as an attorney. But make sure to manage your expectations and make the transition for the right reasons.