Right now, I’m a temp data entry monkey at a large bank. More basic than my previous job, which at least involved reconciling accounts and doing arithmetic–this one’s just, when someone asks for their check to be stopped, I send the messages to the proper places to get it stopped. The main complication is that absolutely nothing is written down (though that’s slowly being fixed)–so as soon as the requests go outside of the narrow fields I’ve been shown how to do, I’m helpless and need to be shown the new process, step-by-step.
(Also, one of the recurring aspects is that, when something’s going wrong, sometimes you need to email one bank over and over and over without getting a response, all the while assuring the bank who asked you to do the thing in the first place that you’re working on their request and will tell them as soon as you have the information. I’m really, really bad at that, in an “aspie meltdown” sort of way. It’s… not good.)
It’s been getting better, and I think I’ve got a shot at making perm. Which would be fantastic. I mean, it’s not my ideal workplace, but it doesn’t need to be to be a suitable place to grow old and die. Or even just have a permanent, non-contract job on my resume.
But anyway, recently… and actually, I think it’s still available… another path opened to me, and I think I’m crazy for not trying, but I’m also not sure I could have done otherwise.
When I was still trying to make a go at being a paralegal, I volunteered three days a week at a particular public-services law firm for experience. Which I got. The lawyer I was assigned to had way more cases than she could handle, and was the least organized person I’d ever met–so I found myself very quickly (and gladly) crafting most of her pleadings and briefs, as well as organizing her cases for her. A different lawyer had me ressearching the current status of an incredibly recent, developing law, which was really exciting. I got to use my office-fu to make their pro se divorce documents three times as efficient as they had been.
I also frequently felt… well, pretty dirty.
There’s a concept, in domestic violence services, where you can’t expect victims to be perfect angels, given everything they’re going through. There’s a concept that abuse is defined by the perception of being abused, and that it’s absolutely unconscionable to try to narrow it down further to specific actions by the perpetrator.
What this functionally meant was that we were hanging out a shingle saying “Free lawyer for your divorce if you’re willing to say you felt unsafe.” And in general, cases where you’d had two broke people trying to muddle through a split, you now had one person with the full power of legal representation behind her and the other guy, still pro se, generally ending up having to do exactly as the wife wants.
Except it’s worse than that, because there are many more comers than there are available slots, even with the wretched overbooking. So I think it’s pretty fair to say that the folks whose experiences didn’t meet a much-hated “quantum of abuse” were actively displacing the more straightforward cases.
So, anyway, they’re hiring.
Lawyer or paralegal–it’s for administrative law, which means you don’t have to have a license to practice. Under the supervision of a senior lawyer–which doesn’t mean much, given the case loads. Given my history–they really liked me and I did good work for them–I think it likely that I could get a job. It would come with a benefits package and things like that. It would give me experience, which all of the “corporate paralegal” jobs seem to require.
But it would totally be putting on a black hat, and forcing the state to pay my salary in doing so. For all the high-flying goals, I’m absolutely convinced that most of what this office does is actively evil, and my function would not be exempt.
Also, as much as I enjoyed my Associate’s Degree education, and still consider myself a law geek… I don’t think I even want to be a paralegal anymore. There’s just… no good in it, from anything I can tell, and not a lot of room for your odd rabbits like me. (Outside of the public service law firms.)
Data entry seems far closer to my baliwick. I’ll keep trying to specialize here.
My husband is trying to sleep on me. I’m going to go.