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Working at a Law Firm as an Undergrad

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On 2/27/2021 at 7:00 AM, UpAboveIt715 said:

It's certainly possible and there's no harm in reaching out.  However, keep in mind that you are competing with law students, lawyers, law clerks and paralegals.  My firm put an ad up for a receiptionst a couple of months ago and we recieved 150 applications and about half of those were lawyers.  

When it comes to my hiring practices, I'd take a graduate of a law clerk program over some kid in undergrad any day of the week.  With that said, I know that there are firms who'll hire undergrads so there's no harm in asking.  If nothing else, reaching out should get you some contacts which could be useful in the future (my first big boy lawyer job came from a connection I made in my second year of undergrad).  

You're joking. 

You had approximately 75 licensed lawyers apply for a job answering phones? 

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Posted (edited)

@easttowest I can understand if not everyone wants to run their own business. But with the 100s of other things they could be doing, why in the hell would they ever apply to answer phones and greet clients? This was a receptionist position. Not a paralegal position, not a job as a legal assistant even. A receptionist. And 75, no less? I'm incredulous.

Edited by QuincyWagstaff

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6 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

@easttowest I can understand if not everyone wants to run their own business. But with the 100s of other things they could be doing, why in the hell would they ever apply to answer phones and greet clients? This was a receptionist position. Not a paralegal position, not a job as a legal assistant even. A receptionist. And 75, no less? I'm incredulous.

That’s what I mean though. I’m not the least bit interested in being a sole, but if it were between that and answering phones... I’m pretty sure I could fake it for a bit. 

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44 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

You're joking. 

You had approximately 75 licensed lawyers apply for a job answering phones? 

Maybe foreign trained lawyers looking for an in?

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8 minutes ago, flyingfish said:

Maybe foreign trained lawyers looking for an in?

They weren't all foreign trained lawyers, but the majority of them were.  I think that a lot of people just randomly apply for jobs with the word 'law' in the title without even reading anything beyond that as well. 

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Posted (edited)
On 2/1/2021 at 10:29 PM, Scourage said:

I know this may seem like a far-fetched question but what are the chances of being able to work at a law firm as an undergrad, aspiring to get into law school afterwards? Such as office work, or even as a secretary of some sorts. Considering I live in Toronto, how would one begin into working or even volunteering at a law firm as an undergrad? All responses are appreciated as I would like to find out more information.

 

Could you be in better physical shape? Could you use some extra money? Could you invest a little more time into your studying to bring your grades up? Could you do better on the LSAT, or be preparing any better than you currently are? Could your house use some regular cleaning? Do you struggle to do your laundry regularly? Are you watching too much tv? 

Maybe you can see where I'm going here but if you answered yes to any of these questions, then think twice about volunteering. The opportunity cost is high and there's good reason to be spending your available time during your UG to better yourself in any way possible.

To answer your question directly however, yes it is possible and rather easy actually. Just approach firms and make it known you're willing to do administrative/filing work for free. Just know you could instead be out there making $14/h at a normal entry level job. Also, you will have better luck at small sized firms.

 

Some of the pro's of volunteering: 

1) Networking: Yes, you can network through volunteering as a UG for future prospects. 

2) Experience: You can end up having a general idea of your legal interests. You can watch other lawyers and get an idea of what lawyering day-day looks like. 

3) Chance for paid position: Chances are slim, and really would only be offered after you've been working for free for a while.

Cons are endless list of the opportunity costs. There's anything in the world you can do other than scut work for free. I don't want to type too much so if theres anything else you want to know just reply to this and I can answer. 

 

Source: Myself a UG volunteering 1.5 - 2 years on and off.

Edited by noredeisgnr
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14 minutes ago, noredeisgnr said:

 

Could you be in better physical shape? Could you use some extra money? Could you invest a little more time into your studying to bring your grades up? Could you do better on the LSAT, or be preparing any better than you currently are? Could your house use some regular cleaning? Do you struggle to do your laundry regularly? Are you watching too much tv? 

Maybe you can see where I'm going here but if you answered yes to any of these questions, then don't bother looking to volunteer at a legal firm. The opportunity cost is too high and you're better off spending your available time during your UG to better yourself in any way possible.

To answer your question directly however, yes it is possible and rather easy actually. Just approach firms and make it known you're willing to do administrative/filing work for free. Just know you could instead be out there making $14/h at a normal entry level job. Also, you will have better luck at small sized firms.

 

Some of the pro's of volunteering: 

1) Networking: Yes, you can network through volunteering as a UG for future prospects. 

2) Experience: You can end up having a general idea of your legal interests. You can watch other lawyers and get an idea of what lawyering day-day looks like. 

3) Chance for paid position: Chances are slim, and really would only be offered after you've been working for free for a while.

Cons are endless list of the opportunity costs. There's anything in the world you can do other than scut work for free. I don't want to type too much so if theres anything else you want to know just reply to this and I can answer. 

 

Source: Myself a UG volunteering 1.5 - 2 years on and off.

This is something I haven't really thought about, but definitely will keep in mind. Thank you!

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Imprettylostrn said:

Yeah, don't work for free....

Yeah just walk in and demand to be paid for work you do not know how to do. Ah right, you also expect them to train you before being paid? - An undergrad who wants to come in part-time, explore and experience, and probably leave shortly after, or once you start law school you become so busy with your school work you flat out quit? 

You don't deserve to get paid; you're young, clueless, unpredictable, and most likely will disappear once the glamour of volunteering at a firm has been dispensed with. You're talking about small sized legal firms here, not your standard McDonalds fast food chain that can afford to pump and dump risky new hires. 

You're not working for free, you're just not working for monetary compensation. You're working for the opportunity to get an early start/glance at an industry you potentially intend to devote your entire life to. You may just be doing admin work but you get to ask all the questions you want and read all the material available around you. Take some initiative and this can be worthwhile. Show some dedication and interest in light of the fact that you're not getting paid and others will see this. Work ethic, consistency, determination, etc, these are all universally respected qualities, and qualities that are actually scarce. Show these good qualities and any reasonable person would take interest in you - whatever that may entail. 

If you end up volunteering for some scum thats taking advantage of you and couldn't care less about your future, its your own fault. You should be vetting who you give "free" work to, just as they would be vetting you. If you feel like you won't get anywhere, find another firm. 

Plenty of lawyers and firms will take you in with patience. They respect that you are an undergraduate, and accordingly, that you are still premature in some sense, so long as you aren't fucking around. When you get to the point where you are volunteering in an administrative capacity well enough (which ideally would take long enough for the relationship to have molded and a mutual understanding of one another developed), you could negotiate to be paid, because at that point (when you know what you're doing and how to do it and especially if you've got favourable qualities) there aren't as many good reasons to have someone replace you. 

You could be walking out with: some form of experience, legal industry preferences, networked connections for future articling and employment, practice-specific knowledge, and even a paid administrative position. From my own experience I can tell you there's nothing impossible about the above. 

 

Sure if you actually need money none of this is feasible as you'll be too busy working a job to pay bills. However, if this isn't you're situation, volunteering can be seriously underrated. 

Go into this with the, "I need to be compensated every time I lift a finger despite all my endless flaws and inexperiences" and you'll be a shitter who doesn't get anywhere. 

 

Edited by noredeisgnr
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On 2/2/2021 at 12:12 AM, Scourage said:

That actually sounds like it was a pretty good experience, do you remember the name of the job or title by any chance?

MAG usually hires undergrad summer students as "Office Assistants" or "Administrative Assistants." The work is pretty menial but you get paid minimum wage and get to work with lawyers.  

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