should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

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gips
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should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by gips » Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:36 pm

Hi,

My son graduated from a top liberal arts college with a degree in history last may. He's interested in law school but wants to work as a paralegal to get a sense of what a career in law might look like. He's interviewed quite a bit and, to pay bills, has been working in a surgeon's office in nyc as an admin making $19/hour, no benefits.

He received an offer today to work as a junior paralegal in a small city outside of nyc proper for $42k/year with benefits and overtime pay. My sense is that he should not negotiate since he's more interested in the experience than the money. However, I don't know a thing about law or paralegal pay.

any advice would be appreciated!

best,

Stich
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by Stich » Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:47 pm

As someone who is about to start graduate school after taking a similar path to your son, I would recommend simply taking the offer. I took a similar offer with the priority placed on benefits and experience, not salary. I have no regrets with this decision, but I do look forward to a nice pay bump within the next few years :greedy

If this experience leads to acceptance into a better law school, I would say that adds benefit beyond the ~$2,000 he might be able to negotiate.

gazelle1991
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by gazelle1991 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:53 pm

In my experience, recent grads have little leverage to nego but then a part of me wants to say it doesn't hurt to ask. A benchmark comparison of what a typical junior paralegal makes would help too. A quick google search shows mid-40Ks so I think the offer isn't too far off. In that case, I wouldn't negotiate.

MotoTrojan
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by MotoTrojan » Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:03 pm

gazelle1991 wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:53 pm
In my experience, recent grads have little leverage to nego but then a part of me wants to say it doesn't hurt to ask. A benchmark comparison of what a typical junior paralegal makes would help too. A quick google search shows mid-40Ks so I think the offer isn't too far off. In that case, I wouldn't negotiate.
+1. I regret not negotiating for my 1st job (mainly on the equity side and I interned there), but that was not a stepping-stone gig before going back to school. I would save the potential risk of negotiating for the 1st post-grad job since that will have a lasting impact on overall salary growth/earnings.

oldfatguy
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by oldfatguy » Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:23 pm

In the NYC metro area, paralegal salaries are $35,590 at the 10th percentile and $44,230 for the 25th percentile, so it seems like a solid offer for a new grad with no experience.

milo minderbinder
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by milo minderbinder » Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:33 pm

As this is a first job and he has no leverage he should take the offer. After he gets some experience he can interview and subsequent offer may be more negotiable. Also, $42G is a reasonable offer, especially out of the city.

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:10 pm

I will chime in here as I have first hand experience with this.

I was also a liberal arts grad from a top school, and I received an offer right out of school in the legal team of a top financial services company in midtown Manhattan. They paid $70k. This was 10 years ago.

If your son is not desperate for a job, and he is interested in law as it is practiced at the highest corporate level, I would recommend he keep looking. The kind of legal work he will do with this company will look very little like the kind of law that is practiced in corporate Manhattan.

randomguy
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by randomguy » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:22 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:10 pm
I will chime in here as I have first hand experience with this.

I was also a liberal arts grad from a top school, and I received an offer right out of school in the legal team of a top financial services company in midtown Manhattan. They paid $70k. This was 10 years ago.

If your son is not desperate for a job, and he is interested in law as it is practiced at the highest corporate level, I would recommend he keep looking. The kind of legal work he will do with this company will look very little like the kind of law that is practiced in corporate Manhattan.
Sure but you are making the assumption that he wants to be a corporate lawyer in Manhattan:). Given the kid has been on the market for like 4+ months, I would just take the job. If you are underpaid, job switch in 18 months if they don't give you a proper raise.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:33 pm

This sounds like a reasonable offer. Has your son taken any special paralegal courses? My sister has been a paralegal for over 30 years and doesn't make more than that. She took a 9 month course after switching from her community college art program.

Hearing what my sister does, I think the experience will be a good one to understand what some of the people in a law office do to keep the office running so the lawyers can do their jobs. Like an engineer who's worked as a technician, I think it'll bring more of an appreciation for what lower level workers in the office do.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:35 pm

randomguy wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:22 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:10 pm
I will chime in here as I have first hand experience with this.

I was also a liberal arts grad from a top school, and I received an offer right out of school in the legal team of a top financial services company in midtown Manhattan. They paid $70k. This was 10 years ago.

If your son is not desperate for a job, and he is interested in law as it is practiced at the highest corporate level, I would recommend he keep looking. The kind of legal work he will do with this company will look very little like the kind of law that is practiced in corporate Manhattan.
Sure but you are making the assumption that he wants to be a corporate lawyer in Manhattan:). Given the kid has been on the market for like 4+ months, I would just take the job. If you are underpaid, job switch in 18 months if they don't give you a proper raise.
Yes I am assuming an elite college grad would tend toward Big Law as a career option. If only to put a dent towards the loans he took on to attend a $70k/yr college.

stan1
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by stan1 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:38 pm

Given where he's at and what he wants to do I think a paralegal job at $42K/year with benefits and overtime (which there could be a lot of) gets him much closer to where he thinks he wants to be than a $19/hour job working in a medical office. He can always keep looking in NYC big law if that's what he thinks he wants. Sometimes even the most capable people need to take 2 or 3 small steps instead of one big step.

Thegame14
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by Thegame14 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:41 pm

Id take the offer, tell him learn as much as he can work as much OT as he can, and bank as much as he can. At this stage of his career, the most important things are experience and savings rate. So he can live at home and bank most of his salary, ideally in Roth IRA or Roth 401K and get as much experience as he can, that is what will pay off in the long run.

Silk McCue
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by Silk McCue » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:43 pm

I would not negotiate for this job after graduating with a degree in History. I’d be thrilled for the opportunity to get paid that rate while being able to use the opportunity to assess my career interest in the legal field which can’t be done in his current job.

Cheers

Topic Author
gips
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by gips » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:50 pm

thanks for all the advice, we're speaking to him tonight and will recommend he take the position at the salary offered.

Hedgefundie, while he did attend a top 20 lac, it was not an elite school..I don't recall your alma mater, but I recall it could be described as one of the elites. also, he's not interested in corp law, instead he wants to use a law degree as a tool to help address social justice issues. As such, I'm afraid my wall st. contacts have been of no use to him. We paid full-freight for our kids' education, so no loans.

of course, in 20 years, things may change, but hopefully, my investment in your risk parity strategy will allow him to continue pursuing his passion :sharebeer

best,

California88
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by California88 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:01 pm

I think he should take the job ... he'll learn a lot and it will probably be a lot more varied and interesting than working in corporate law in Manhattan. Big companies generally want their paralegals to have a "Paralegal Certificate from a good school. Trying to negotiate the salary could be a big turn off for them.

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:26 pm

gips wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:50 pm
thanks for all the advice, we're speaking to him tonight and will recommend he take the position at the salary offered.

Hedgefundie, while he did attend a top 20 lac, it was not an elite school..I don't recall your alma mater, but I recall it could be described as one of the elites. also, he's not interested in corp law, instead he wants to use a law degree as a tool to help address social justice issues. As such, I'm afraid my wall st. contacts have been of no use to him. We paid full-freight for our kids' education, so no loans.

of course, in 20 years, things may change, but hopefully, my investment in your risk parity strategy will allow him to continue pursuing his passion :sharebeer

best,
Good luck to you and your son!

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friar1610
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by friar1610 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:33 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:10 pm
I will chime in here as I have first hand experience with this.

I was also a liberal arts grad from a top school, and I received an offer right out of school in the legal team of a top financial services company in midtown Manhattan. They paid $70k. This was 10 years ago.

If your son is not desperate for a job, and he is interested in law as it is practiced at the highest corporate level, I would recommend he keep looking. The kind of legal work he will do with this company will look very little like the kind of law that is practiced in corporate Manhattan.
Just curious if you (a) worked much overtime and (b) were specifically paid for it or if if was expected as part of the $70K salary.

Thanks.
Friar1610

Topic Author
gips
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by gips » Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:03 pm

friar1610 wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:33 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:10 pm
I will chime in here as I have first hand experience with this.

I was also a liberal arts grad from a top school, and I received an offer right out of school in the legal team of a top financial services company in midtown Manhattan. They paid $70k. This was 10 years ago.

If your son is not desperate for a job, and he is interested in law as it is practiced at the highest corporate level, I would recommend he keep looking. The kind of legal work he will do with this company will look very little like the kind of law that is practiced in corporate Manhattan.
Just curious if you (a) worked much overtime and (b) were specifically paid for it or if if was expected as part of the $70K salary.

Thanks.
I'm sure hedgefundie will reply but my experience is that it's a slippery slope to start down the road of this calculation. Early days in my career, I had an offer from a hedge fund for around $200k. everyone was working 80-100 hour weeks, I did the math and decided I'd be better off taking something for around $150k, 40-50 hours per week. So I called up one of my friends to interview, he took the job and was making $600k two years later. Five years later, he well into 7 figures. It was a valuable lesson which I put to good use.

Mr. Rumples
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by Mr. Rumples » Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:14 pm

A BA in history...take the money and the job. Now I'm not one to disparage a liberal arts degree, believe it or not my major in philosophy with a minor in history served me well, but it was difficult to get my foot in the door. Once in and you can prove your worth, the sky's the limit.

Trader Joe
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by Trader Joe » Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:22 pm

gips wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:36 pm
Hi,

My son graduated from a top liberal arts college with a degree in history last may. He's interested in law school but wants to work as a paralegal to get a sense of what a career in law might look like. He's interviewed quite a bit and, to pay bills, has been working in a surgeon's office in nyc as an admin making $19/hour, no benefits.

He received an offer today to work as a junior paralegal in a small city outside of nyc proper for $42k/year with benefits and overtime pay. My sense is that he should not negotiate since he's more interested in the experience than the money. However, I don't know a thing about law or paralegal pay.

any advice would be appreciated!

best,
I recommend that your son accept the offer as is.

Archimedes
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by Archimedes » Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:36 pm

I would recommend he take the job for the salary offered. Then he should go in there, learn every day, work hard, do a top-quality job, and make himself indispensable. The raises will come if he shows them his worth. Or, if the raises don’t come, he can take his skills to another shop and earn the money he deserves based on knowledge and experience.

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:15 pm

friar1610 wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:33 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:10 pm
I will chime in here as I have first hand experience with this.

I was also a liberal arts grad from a top school, and I received an offer right out of school in the legal team of a top financial services company in midtown Manhattan. They paid $70k. This was 10 years ago.

If your son is not desperate for a job, and he is interested in law as it is practiced at the highest corporate level, I would recommend he keep looking. The kind of legal work he will do with this company will look very little like the kind of law that is practiced in corporate Manhattan.
Just curious if you (a) worked much overtime and (b) were specifically paid for it or if if was expected as part of the $70K salary.

Thanks.
I worked less than 40 hours a week.

tibbitts
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by tibbitts » Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:57 pm

Given that he apparently does not require working in nyc itself, this offer seems like a good opportunity as is, no negotiating required.

Leemiller
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by Leemiller » Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:14 am

gips wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:50 pm
thanks for all the advice, we're speaking to him tonight and will recommend he take the position at the salary offered.

Hedgefundie, while he did attend a top 20 lac, it was not an elite school..I don't recall your alma mater, but I recall it could be described as one of the elites. also, he's not interested in corp law, instead he wants to use a law degree as a tool to help address social justice issues. As such, I'm afraid my wall st. contacts have been of no use to him. We paid full-freight for our kids' education, so no loans.

of course, in 20 years, things may change, but hopefully, my investment in your risk parity strategy will allow him to continue pursuing his passion :sharebeer

best,
Doesn’t sound like a legal job in a small office has any relationship to his goals. Frankly, at least biglaw means better training (or at least better perceived training) and more prestige, which everyone cares about, including the NGO world. Or at least he should be focused on not for profit work, since he’s already looking at a low salary, even if it wasn’t ‘paralegal’ work perhaps he could help out the attorneys who work there. He should probably already be volunteering at someplace like that given this is the career goal.

I went from a liberal arts undergrad to law school after taking some time off. Originally for social justice, now I practice corporate law. I’ve never not negotiated a job offer, so I would disagree on that point with the other posters.

stan1
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by stan1 » Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:37 am

OP's son has been trying to get a legal job in NYC for 6 months having had multiple interviews without success and is currently working in an administrative job at a medical office. I don't think that aligns to his goals at all.

He should try Plan B. He can keep applying for jobs in NYC while he gains experience at the job he can get hired into. Sounds like son is hustling hard and being creative. What's not to like about that? Life isn't always a guided path with someone opening every door along the way even for someone with a degree from an elite university. He'll figure it out and looking back in a decade or two he may say it was the best decision he ever made.

J295
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by J295 » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:09 am

In our firm of 25 lawyers in middle America we did not negotiate paralegal or any other salaries for that matter. We paid at the top of the pay scale for our community and treated our people well. Non-negotiable

alfaspider
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by alfaspider » Wed Oct 23, 2019 10:19 am

Leemiller wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:14 am
gips wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:50 pm
thanks for all the advice, we're speaking to him tonight and will recommend he take the position at the salary offered.

Hedgefundie, while he did attend a top 20 lac, it was not an elite school..I don't recall your alma mater, but I recall it could be described as one of the elites. also, he's not interested in corp law, instead he wants to use a law degree as a tool to help address social justice issues. As such, I'm afraid my wall st. contacts have been of no use to him. We paid full-freight for our kids' education, so no loans.

of course, in 20 years, things may change, but hopefully, my investment in your risk parity strategy will allow him to continue pursuing his passion :sharebeer

best,
Doesn’t sound like a legal job in a small office has any relationship to his goals. Frankly, at least biglaw means better training (or at least better perceived training) and more prestige, which everyone cares about, including the NGO world. Or at least he should be focused on not for profit work, since he’s already looking at a low salary, even if it wasn’t ‘paralegal’ work perhaps he could help out the attorneys who work there. He should probably already be volunteering at someplace like that given this is the career goal.

I went from a liberal arts undergrad to law school after taking some time off. Originally for social justice, now I practice corporate law. I’ve never not negotiated a job offer, so I would disagree on that point with the other posters.
For a fresh out of college paralegal, I think a small office is actually a better fit than biglaw. There are going to be more opportunities for meaningful work. Prestige is likely pretty meaningless. Biglaw firms rarely care if or where you worked as a paralegal- they care what law school you go to and what your grades are. Law schools just care about your GPA and LSAT unless you did something extraordinary or are the child of a mega donor/famous person.

I'd advise OP's son to take the $43k job and study his everloving brains out for the LSAT. Even if he doesn't want to go to an elite law school, the better the LSAT score, the better chance he will be offered a full ride somewhere- a pretty important consideration given public interest salaries and troubled loan forgiveness programs. Plus, a pretty enormous percentage of law school prospects say they want to do public interest. Only a very small portion actually do it after they realize all it entails.

natchez
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by natchez » Wed Oct 23, 2019 1:55 pm

I hire paralegals for the in-house legal department of a large corporation. We hire only experienced paralegals and the only real variation in pay is for more relevant experience (for example, if we are hiring to come in-house an outside paralegal already doing the work). Generally the pay is in the high 60s, low 70s. This pay scale is for paralegals who have experience AND a paralegal certificate; those with a 4-year degree but no actual certificate have a lower pay scale. Sometimes this has been an issue; for example, when a paralegal at a law firm was made a paralegal after years of training with attorneys in the firm and doing paralegal-level work but has no certificate comes in-house, the salary will be lower than if that paralegal had a certificate. I have argued with this as I was in private practice for nearly 20 years before going in-house and I value training and experience much more highly than I do a certificate, but the policy is the policy. Your son might want to find out if he can get higher pay if he obtains a certificate.

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SkierMom
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Re: should my son negotiate paralegal offer?

Post by SkierMom » Wed Oct 23, 2019 4:40 pm

Based on how much paralegals are requested to work overtime and paid salary - not OT - he should take it.

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