Paralegals need not apply …

October 18, 2011

I was reading want ads recently – after all, you never know when you might be able to convince a potential employer to ‘go virtual’ – and I encountered the following ad:

JD Paralegals Needed for Immediate Opportuntiy [sic]

[We are] seeking JD Paralegals for a document review project … !!! The document review is with one of [our] Biggest clients, here in Charlotte, NC. Qualified applicants will have to have at least a JD!!! To apply: Please email your resume as a MSWORD attachment to [contact information deleted to protect the idiots innocent], referencing “PROJECT JD” in the subject line. We look forward to working with you!!!!

Pardon me??!! Did I read that correctly? “Qualified applicants will have to have at least a JD.”

Forgive me for channeling my inner Yosemite Sam, but WTF is a ‘JD Paralegal’??  Isn’t that like asking for a meat-eating vegetarian?

To clarify, as defined by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, a Paralegal is:

a person, qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work. Substantive shall mean work requiring recognition, evaluation, organization, analysis, and communication of relevant facts and legal concepts.

I have worked a lot of years, put up with a lot of attorneys and law firm bureaucracy, and made sure that I have the education and credentials to be a PARALEGAL. Using the same logic, individuals with JDs have worked long and hard to earn their credentials as well. What kind of sick hybrid is this so-called JD Paralegal?

Everything in the job description could be done effectively and efficiently by a paralegal – and for, I’m sad to say, less money than a JD would earn. Face it, most paralegals are not adequately compensated for the experience and value that they provide. Furthermore, why would a JD even want to be considered a paralegal?

This is a sad commentary on the state of our economy and the status of our profession. We, as paralegals, need to take a stand – we are professionals and deserve to be recognized for the role we play in the practice of law.

Just say ‘no’ to the concept of  ‘JD Paralegals’ …

What do you think?

9 Responses to “Paralegals need not apply …”

  1. Practical Paralegalism

    As they say in baseball, good eye! 😀

    I always tell peeps I don’t have “JD” behind my name – guess I’ll have to add I don’t have it in front either 😛

  2. Misty Sheffield

    “JD Paralegal” is an oxymoron. I don’t think we have to worry about it catching on. Thanks for the article.

  3. Mary Jo Denman, PP, PLS

    I know of some instances where an attorney whose license has been suspended for a time by the state bar/supreme court can work under the supervision of another attorney, as long as he is not practicing law. Another instance would be a law school graduate who has not yet passed the bar.

  4. Pamela J Starr

    Agreed; however, wouldn’t it be more prudent to simply advertise for JDs? The ad says nothing about new graduates or otherwise unlicensed attorneys. Calling someone one a ‘JD’ Paralegal’ is a disservice to both professions –

  5. Jeff Bishop

    I saw that ad too, and was tempted to send them an email saying “good luck with that.” The going rate for document review attorneys in Charlotte (who need not be licensed in NC, as long as they’re licensed somewhere) is around $25/hour, while this one pays only $16. Query whether there really are that many paralegals out there who hold JDs but are not licensed in any state.

  6. Jan Hill

    I think it says a lot about the state of the economy, the fact that new lawyers are having a lot of trouble finding jobs, and the many creative things that are being devised to take advantage of this situation. There are also a lot of bogus job ads out there, posted by people who don’t even know the difference between a JD and a paralegal. I wonder how many applicants the ad got?

  7. Bob Davidson

    Good post. I would wonder if the “JD Paralegal” requirement is born from ignorance. Don’t forget, there remains major misunderstanding about paralegal. So many people still believe paralegal is an apprentice position for “attorney.” Others still don’t understand, or refuse to understand, that paralegals cannot give legal advice.

    Maybe one day it will be understood that paralegal is its own vocation, separate and apart from, but complementary to “attorney.”

  8. Pamela the Paralegal

    […] in October 2011, I wrote about an employer seeking “JD Paralegals” – “Qualified applicants will have to have at least a […]

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