The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE professor teaches about paralegals’ expectations

By Dylan Bradley/ne news editor

Jason Floyd/The Collegian  Department co-coordinator and professor of legal studies Karen Silverberg was awarded NE Campus’ Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award. Silverberg is highly recommended by NE president Larry Darlage who says “her students thrive in her company.”
Jason Floyd/The Collegian Department co-coordinator and professor of legal studies Karen Silverberg was awarded NE Campus’ Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award. Silverberg is highly recommended by NE president Larry Darlage who says “her students thrive in her company.”

Part two in a five-part series on winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching, an annual recognition of faculty who impress and inspire their students.

Department co-coordinator and legal studies professor Karen Silverberg strives to make a difference in her students’ lives and give them an accurate representation of what it entails to become a paralegal.

She said the best part of teaching Intro to Law and Legal Research on NE Campus is making a positive difference in students’ lives every day.

“I was a very traditional student,” she said. “I see many, many more non-traditional students.”

Silverberg says she still teaches in a very traditional way, but for a nontraditional reason.

“When you work for a lawyer, no one is going to do a PowerPoint presentation to tell you what to do,” she said. “I teach my class the way lawyers speak to paralegals. Students have got to know from the first semester whether or not they can hack. It’s a skill you can learn, but you have to want to learn it.”

She said it’s important that students know from the beginning that this profession is about listening, taking that direction, going out and working on their own and bringing it back and asking, “Is this what I want?”

“And when it isn’t, going back and doing it again,” she said.

NE students Charlotte Blakely-Frazier and Hanayo Fukuchi are taking Introduction to Law for the first time this semester.

“She manages to do something that is very difficult to do,” Blakely-Frazier said. “You walk out of her class not realizing how much you’ve learned.”

Fukuchi said Silverberg uses anecdotes from cases to emphasize the points of her lessons.

“When we were going over damages, she used the McDonald’s story about hot coffee to explain how they were at fault for that,” Fukuchi said.

Silverberg also told a story to explain why not to use self-representation, Fukuchi said.

“She took on a case of a guy who was representing himself in a divorce and he ended up losing a bunch of money,” Fukuchi said. “Then [he] couldn’t file for bankruptcy because of all the stuff he said in court.”

Silverberg began teaching as an adjunct in the Mental Health program in 1991 and became a professor in 1996. She practiced law for 10 years, five to six years with a firm and then started her own independent practice, before beginning her career as a teacher.

She was the only full-time paralegal studies professor from 1996 to 2006, said Joan Johnson, department chair of government and paralegal studies in a letter of recommendation.

In 2008, the most recent year surveyed, 100 percent of students from the program are employed or enrolled in education.

“Her students thrive in her company and have no problem getting jobs after graduation,” NE Campus president Larry Darlage wrote in his letter of recommendation.

She also founded the Legal Assistant Student Enrichment Resource, which is now the Student Paralegal Association.

The organization is designed to bring in special speakers, provide networking opportunities and host DFW-area professional events for paralegals.

“People come here wanting to change their lives and start a new beginning,” she said. “I so much admire who our students are and what they are doing. Anything I can do to help make that better, easier, get them farther down the road they want to go on, I try.”

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