Paralegal Schools: Are They Worth It? Part Two

Posted on | August 25, 2010 | 5 Comments

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In the interest of full disclosure, I should say up front that I teach at a paralegal school. And the director of the program is a good friend (who taught me how to be a paralegal). Perhaps my opinion is biased as a result. That being said, I think that paralegal programs are a good thing if the program’s goal is to educate you and not simply to cash your tuition check.

While working at my first (and only) law firm, one of the attorneys left that firm to head the paralegal program from which I had just graduated. When he was leaving I told him that he needed to have more paralegals teaching classes. He agreed and three months later called to tell me he had a paralegal teacher for Administative Law – me!

That was eleven year ago. That attorney retired a year ago to become a full-time faculty member. His replacement (the paralegal) has continued his focus on not simply teaching the law but teaching the students how to be paralegals. We are very hands on and treat each classroom as though it is a law firm. Deadlines are made. Assignments need to be completed or you don’t get credit. There is no “hand holding” in our program. Students participate in mock civil litigation assignments and will even step in to the role of attorney (conduct depositions, draft discovery) in order to understand how this works. In Adminisitrative Law, students work up a Workers Compensation or Social Security disability case from start to finish. In my class we spend the semester researching a constitutional law issue using all sources available. It is a tough program. But students walk out of our program with the knowledge to handle any number of paralegal tasks.

I guess what I am trying to say is that not all schools are bad. My school is a community college so we are not focused on profits. We are focused on education. The teachers are in the program because they care about the proper education of paralegals – not for the salary. Trust me! It is NOT for the salary. Especially when the salary is pretty non-existent.

I have heard horror stories from students in our program who tried other programs and walked out with no education but a lot of debt. (YEP! Paralegal)  The students sit in my class (Legal Research) and comment that they never learned what I am teaching at their old school.  Sad. (Seriously, this sucks that I didn’t have the education that Corporate is teaching her students.  Tell them how lucky they are. Paralegal)

Here is the thing:  I love being a paralegal.  And I am enthusiastic about what I teach.  I want the students to love it just as much as I love it.  The Director of our program loved being a paralegal and loves the law.  She conveys that in each meeting with the students.  She has made sure we maintain a varierty of teachers in our program:  paralegals from different areas, attorneys, and a sitting judge.  This diversity helps the students.  They see and learn the law from every angle. 

Like law schools and colleges, there are some good and bad ones out there.  I am lucky that I work in a good (dare I say great!) program.

Corporate Paralegal

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5 Responses to “Paralegal Schools: Are They Worth It? Part Two”

  1. Paralegal Schools: Are They Worth It? Part Two |
    August 26th, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

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