From Paralegal to MBA


After 15 years of being a paralegal and, no doubt, enjoying what I do, it’s time to move on.

Wanting more has always been a part of who I am.  That’s what brought me here, to where I am today.

I started in this industry as a file clerk and quickly moved up to legal secretary. I remember not even knowing the difference between a complaint and a motion. Heck I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a motion. I remember my first attorney sitting me down in his office with a Special Civil Part Complaint and a Superior Court Complaint and explaining the basic differences to me so that I would be able to file these documents properly. I remember reading interrogatories and the New Jersey Court Rules just so I could move out of the file room quickly. At that time all I wanted was to be a legal secretary. That was my goal and I was determined to work day and night to make that happen.

As a legal secretary, I remember looking and “studying” every motion I could find in each file. I didn’t just type and take dictation. I wanted to know how to draft the motions and when to draft the motions. When I felt comfortable that I would be able to do prepare a motion on my own I remember asking my attorney, at that time a different attorney, if he would mind my drafting the whole thing for his review. I learned when it was appropriate to file motions and what type of motion was required. Today these all seem so intuitive, however at that time I remember being scared of failing.

When the firm I was with refused to promote me from legal secretary to paralegal I was determined to find a firm that would hire me as a paralegal. Within a year I was working at a different firm as a paralegal. I missed my old firm and hated the new one I joined. But I was not going back as a secretary. I wanted them to accept me as a paralegal. It took a little convincing and lots of meetings with the partners and HR. Eventually they took me back.

My goals were never to make more money. Money was not and still is not my primary motivator. Don’t get me wrong, money is a motivator but not the most important motivator in my life. *Keep in mind that if you’re looking to hire me you still have to pay me hahaha. I’m not totally crazy yet.

So for over twelve years I worked in law firms where I learned all I could. Took on additional assignments. Some came with some glory and some did not. I won some battles and lost some. I made friends and I’m sure some enemies. I left some firms for others where learning was encouraged and was laid off from one (I really liked that firm. It still hurts to think about it).

Three years ago I found myself at a cross-road. I enjoyed the cases I was assigned, I worked with one of the most respected attorneys in the firm and I was sought out by other attorneys. There was nothing wrong with that firm. There was something missing, however. I had stopped learning. The cases and the work was no longer challenging and I felt I had nothing else to learn. I began to think of my next move.

I had never done anything with finance. I would live to learn about it. Learn about what makes our financial system work. So I began looking for a position in the financial industry. Without experience, but armed with my curiosity for the new adventure I was offered a position and began working for one of the largest custody banks in the US. I threw myself into my work. I arrived at work at 7:30 am and I was always the last one to leave. Within 2 years I was promoted to paralegal supervisor.

Currently I am still at this bank. I handle a full work load and supervise seven paralegals soon to supervise one or two in another state (I still don’t know how I’m going to manage that). I still love what I do and I feel accomplished almost every day. Some days are an up-hill battle and some are easier. I love the people I work with. Every one is a joy and every one is very willing to help when the going gets tough. I can honestly say that we are a small family.

I have been at the Bank for the past 4 years and recently have been feeling that it may be time to try something different. Something that I have never done before. I feel as if I have reached the top of this mountain. The top of the paralegal mountain and although the view is amazing, I have no other mountains to climb. I don’t want to change employers. I like the Bank. So the next step is to change career paths. Leave the paralegal world behind and trust that what I leave behind will allow others to continue and prosper.

This weekend, I decided to begin studying for an MBA. To try my hand at a different area of the financial industry. I will still be here, for now, as a paralegal and, if my employer will have me, I will still be working with them and the paralegal team to make it better than we already are. But I will be looking for a different ending to this story.

I have truly enjoyed the journey and I hope you have to. I also hope you will join me in my new journey …. I’ll call it “From Paralegal to MBA.”

I hope you will travel with me.

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12 thoughts on “From Paralegal to MBA

  1. I’m looking forward to watching you get your MBA. At 48, I decided to go back to college and get my degree. I started with court reporting and just recently switched by degree to Paralegal Studies.

    I wish you luck and look forward to reading your blog!

  2. I know that this posting is a few months old but I must say that I find it inspiring. I too have been thinking about getting a MBA in compliance and risk management , but there has always been something that held me back. Reading your post gave made me realize that time is of the essence so I need to stop wasting time. Thank you for your post.

  3. EDIT
    I know that this posting is a few months old but I must say that I find it inspiring. I too have been thinking about getting a MBA in compliance and risk management , but there has always been something that held me back. Reading your post gave made me realization that time is of the essence so I need to make a decision. Thank you for your post.

    1. I have an MBA and am looking into becoming a paralegal. Where can this combination land you after a few years?

  4. I am currently finishing my BA in Psychology, and I’m planning to get certified in Paralegal Studies, I found your blog and all the comments very honest and inspiring. The more I read the more assured I become. Thank you I cannot wait to take my first class, “torts”

  5. WOW! I am so happy to hear that someone else took on this journey. I typed in MBA paralegal only to come across your page. I too am a previous paralegal (current legal secretary) and I’m in my first year MBA program. I’m looking to advance in the finance field and I wanted to know if you have any pointers for someone in my position looking to branch out. I pray everything is going well for you!

  6. Congratulations and I wish you the best of luck. I am currently in the process of making the same transition, but in the other direction. I currently hold my MBA; however, I am interested in obtaining a paralegal certificate. With your current expertise and experience, what could I do with the two???? I too work at a bank in Corporate Security as a V.P. supervising a team of desk investigators.

    I have several ideas such as contacting my services to attorneys, working part-time at a law firm, or starting my own business. I just wanted to determine what were my options. I have always wanted to dabble in law, workout incurring all the debt from attending law school.

    Desperately seeking your advice….

    1. Congratulations. Om looking forward to hearing all about it. I didn’t forget you and I’ll be putting up a post in response to your question. I’ve had a lot of questions about the same thing (education and what to do as a paralegal). I’m a bit behind on my posts due to the World Cup but I will respond.

      Xoxo
      Ana

      1. Congratulations to all of you. To want to excel in your field and climb up the corporate ladder is quite the accomplishment. I too started as a legal secretary and had deep curiosity into how to draft motions, etc. and went and got my Paralegal License from a very reputable university. I immediately became a better commodity in the marketplace. After so many years when I was 42, I decided to go back to school and get my MBA. Boy did this education give me an edge both personally and in my career. I felt like hey, I too have a graduate degree! I was stuck in a firm and decided to move on. I have been working with recruiters and the past couple of weeks have been crazy. I am spreading my wings in unknown business territory and it is so exciting. Not to be boxed into one little category with no room to move has been the best part of my professional transition. I also got a real estate license and sold a few houses there on my way. The real estate market slowed down for me and here I am back in the Paralegal/MBA corner. Any suggestions of where to go to maximize my income, get a fulfilling position and learn a new industry??? I am hearing risk management and compliance work. Those are hard to come around simply because you have to have come from a similar work background to get hired for those positions….

      2. I am so sorry. I have been trying to get to this site for over a year and was not able to get it recovered. There was an issue with it having been in hiding and I had no idea how to get it back. However, that’s in the past and I’m here. Than you so much having stuck through this very confusing time. I wish you the best of luck and I do want to hear where you now. What’s going on?

        Again, thank you
        Ana

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