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I have been trying to break into the legal industry for a few years now. Covid and the subsequent working from home have done nothing to help my plight.

Approximately four months ago I was contacted by a medium-sized lawfirm in the city that I had sent a cold email to looking for paralegal work. They had a temporary administrative position that needed filling urgently. I was also told that it would be a good way to get my foot in the door in terms of paralegal work if there were future openings were I able to prove myself.

At first I was reticent as I felt it was a real drop down in terms of my experience and academic achievements, however I think in this day and age anyone would be grateful for some form of gainful employment and I took up the job. The pay is just above minimum wage and is incredibly stressful. I seem to be the go to dogsbody for anything and everything. Despite this I am professional and continue to do my best.

I'm feeling particularly sensitive at the moment as my manager received a CV from a underqualified and inexperienced paralegal however both my manager and a partner at the firm have agreed to offer her a position for the simple and only reason that she is a member of a body that this partner in question belongs to .....!!!!!!

I am actually seething with rage! I understand that nepotism takes place in all forms however I feel completely exploited. I was misled as to what the potential of my particular position was and I was even told by my manager that I was being jealous and envious and that I should not act that way i.e. pretty much I should stay within my level of the hierarchy. I honestly believe that my mistake was being competent and efficient at my job so they have now pigeonholed me as being an administrator/dogsbody. I am doing work that is well beneath my capabilities and I am being completely exploited. I am much better qualified than this other individual, I have great experience than her and I have also proven my worth at this firm these past four months. The only reason why she is getting the position is because the partner has said she is a member of the same body that he is so we're gonna have to put her through.

I am well aware of cutting my nose off to spite my face and to just walk out would mean that I would lose the work that I have put in so far and also any potential for a reference. What would you suggest in a circumstance like this?

Additionally from your experience is it ever worth taking a job beneath you to try and work your way up the ladder as this strategy has really backfired in this case. I honestly feel like I'm going to need mental health help/PTSD from the sheer workload and demands that I have had to deal with these past few months from this firm! It seems bizarre but they seem to think they are doing me the favour.

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    Work isn't fair. Life isn't fair. Promises are made and will be broken. A person's word is of almost no value these days. Make your own career path. Don't expect or rely on others to make it for you. Stop focusing on how you feel you've been wronged and make whatever changes are needed to move your career in the direction you want to move it in. Harsh wisdom? Yes, but that's the way the world works.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 14, 2022 at 3:30
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    Classic case that happens in most of the companies. I would advice you to prepare and keep looking out. Keep giving interviews. Thats the best way to deal with the situation.
    – chendu
    Jul 14, 2022 at 4:38
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    "the only reason that she is a member of a body that this partner ..." - I am not exactly sure what you mean by that statement, but unless you have seen their resume, it's not clear how you know their work experience. Worth pointing out you are inexperienced and potentially underqualified. Typical advice is that you don't leave a job without having something to replace it, if simply leaving ends up with the law firm not giving you a good reference, it doesn't sound like a healthy place to work at. Most places wouldn't give a bad reference for somebody simply leaving the company/firm.
    – Donald
    Jul 14, 2022 at 7:49
  • 6-9 months position
    – user311438
    Jul 14, 2022 at 10:56

2 Answers 2

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You took up the only opportunity you had at that point of time - good.

You continued in the same position despite knowing you are undervalued and underpaid - not so wise.

I'd say, update your resume with the experience you gained while working in the current organisation, and start looking for better opportunities elsewhere. At this moment, that's the best option you have, instead of thinking about what could or should have happened.

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I am well aware of cutting my nose off to spite my face and to just walk out would mean that I would lose the work that I have put in so far and also any potential for a reference. What would you suggest in a circumstance like this?

Find and accept a new job elsewhere before you cut off your nose. Perhaps just wait until the temporary position expires. Meanwhile continue to be professional and do your best.

I honestly feel like I'm going to need mental health help/PTSD from the sheer workload and demands that I have had to deal with these past few months from this firm!

You should seek professional mental health help if you feel this way.

It seems bizarre but they seem to think they are doing me the favour.

Well, they clearly did you a favor.

You've been trying to get into the legal field for years, apparently unsuccessfully. They offered you a way in. You accepted it. Apparently you had no other offers at the time.

Perhaps now, with a bit of legal field experience under your belt you can now find a job that isn't a drop down in terms of my experience and academic achievements. And while you are looking, you are getting a pay check.

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