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One of our fellow paralegals, Chere Estrin, recently posted an interesting article on your weight and how it could be sabotaging your career in the legal field.  It is a great article (which you can read in its entirety here) and I am sure that most of us (at least those of us who carry some extra pounds) have wondered about when we have applied for a job, interviewed and then were not hired, if it was because of our weight that lost us the job.

As quoted in Chere’s article:

  • “Fat, lazy and unproductive” might be some of the stereotypes that ring true to employers who reject an obese applicant despite a stellar resume. Published last month in the International Journal of Obesity, a new study examined the role anti-fat prejudice plays in workplace hiring practices.  The study results showed that obese women received more negative responses on leadership potential, predicted success, likelihood to select, salary, total employment rating and rank order of preference relative to other candidates.
  • Fat is one of the last bastions of discrimination with very little done to curb prejudice or  intolerance.  Being overweight does not mean a person is unmotivated or lazy.  Chances are if you made it into in a law firm environment, you are smart, good at your job and ambitious.  In fact, because of excess weight, people may even be more driven than others.

While I am not looking for a new job, I am very happy where I am, thank you very much, I am giving this article some great thought.  I am lucky to work for employers who did not discriminate when hiring me, despite my extra pounds.  I wonder how some of you feel about this article and if you have felt, or have been told outright, that you were not hired/promoted because of your weight.  Please feel free to share your thoughts on this.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics published their new handbook in March 2012 regarding Paralegal and Legal Assistants wages along with the anticipated growth in jobs from 2010-2020.  For a quick summary I have attached their quick facts summary below.

Summary

Paralegals and legal assistants perform a variety of tasks to support their attorneys.
Quick Facts: Paralegals and Legal Assistants
2010 Median Pay $46,680 per year
$22.44 per hour
Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2010 256,000
Job Outlook, 2010-20 18% (About as fast as average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 46,900

To see the Handbook, click here.

O’Net Information on Paralegals

O’Net shows a difference in the projected job openings during this same 10 year period  of almost  almost double.

National

Median wages (2011) $22.47 hourly, $46,730 annual
Employment (2010) 256,000 employees
Projected growth (2010-2020) Average (10% to 19%) Average (10% to 19%)
Projected job openings (2010-2020) 83,400
Top industries (2010)
In California, O’Net shows a projected increase of 18% in job openings from 2010-2020, from 28,300 jobs to 33,800.  The median wage in California for a paralegal now is $58,100 with a high wage of $90,100.
O’Net also has extensive information regarding the tasks that paralegals perform as well as the tools and technology paralegals use, the knowledge needed, the skills, abilities, work activities,  and work context.  To see more of O’Net’s information, click here.
According to both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and O’Net, the increase in jobs in the paralegal field is in the average range.  Good news for those who are considering the paralegal field!

 

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John Parker, a paralegal in Hempstead, NY, has been facing tough times since paid with a fraudulent check when he worked as a security guard for what he thought was a friend. This story caught my eye and I had to share it. 

John took a part-time job during the Summer of 2010 to help supplement his income as a paralegal when his new son was born. Seems the check he received was fraudulent, unbeknownst to him. He used the $4,600 paycheck earned over the summer to pay bills and school supplies for his daughter from another relationship.

The bank contacted him about the check but he was unable to pay it back right away and then the police showed up at his work to arrest him. His then employer helped him out by paying the money back to the bank and John paid semi-monthly payments to his boss to pay back the loan. John’s luck continued in a downward spiral and he eventually fell behind on his rent due to the high payments to his boss and eventually received an eviction notice. John managed to find another part-time job, but still was not able to catch up.

John eventually found F.E.G.S. Health and Human Services System, a beneficiary of UJA-Federation of New York, one of the seven agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. This agency, along with his annual bonus from his paralegal job, helped John catch up on his rent and paid of the loan to his boss and then his landlord raised his rent.

When John received a rent increase he moved to a cheaper apartment and he learned in September that he and two co-workers were going to be laid off. Despite all of this, with the determination of all of us in this legal profession, John is determined to care for his children during these tough challenges even it it means he goes without food so that they do not.

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Thanks goes to Lynne DeVenny of Practical Paralegalism for sharing with us that NALS invites all legal support staffers, including legal secretaries, adminstrative assistants, legal assistants and paralegals to participate in its Legal Support Industry Survey at http://www.nals.org/ (under News).

I also took the survey and it is quick and easy and takes less than 2 minutes of your time.  NALS also has other great resources available.  If you haven’t already taken a look, take some time to do so.  You will be happy you did.

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