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Laid-Off Lawyer Competes with Other Attorneys for Paralegal Jobs

Posted Feb 17, 2009 10:22 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A 43-year-old Los Angeles lawyer who was laid off from her in-house job more than a year ago still has no permanent job, as unemployment takes a toll on her marriage and her finances.

The lawyer, Ellie Trope, has 15 years of experience, but her job search has still been difficult. This year she landed a temporary job and hopes it becomes permanent. She spoke to Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez about her struggle over the past year.

Trope found a job for four months this summer filling in for a lawyer on maternity leave, but otherwise had no success. She began looking for work as a contract administrator, an office administrator and a paralegal, but found that lawyers weren’t wanted.

"After a while with the paralegal jobs, the listings said, 'No attorneys.' I think it's because they figured attorneys would leave as soon as they found work as lawyers,” Trope told the Times.

Trope says her husband, who is also a lawyer, began losing clients, and they have fallen behind on their mortgage. The stress caused a strain on the marriage, and the couple separated. The couple held on to their nanny, however; she shuttles between Trope's home and that of her husband as their two children move from one place to another.

Things are looking better for Trope after she landed a temporary job in January and then a different temporary job this week. She is philosophical about what she’s learned.

She recalled how her grandmother, who lived through the Depression, used to take home extra sugar packets from restaurants.

"In my life, things were always way too easy to get," Trope told the Times. "I put my head in the sand and never thought about the worst that might happen. It was way too easy to not have a backup plan, and I didn't worry. I did a great job at work and I thought that was enough, and it's not anymore."

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