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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Paralegal program helps law students get their start

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By Elyssa Gideon/reporter

When going to college, there are so many decisions to make, such as where to live, whether to go to an in-state school or out-of-state school, and how to pay for everything.

However, one of the questions one might as themselves is “what is my major going to be?”

Although there are plenty to choose from here at TCC, if one has ever thought about a career in anything remotely related to a legal field, the paralegal program at the NE Campus is an option students may not be familiar with.

According to NE professor and co-coordinator of paralegal studies Karen Silverberg J.D., the goal of the paralegal program is that “students leave the program with practical skills pertaining to all major fields of law to allow them to assist attorneys in whatever field of law they choose.”

Some students decide to go on to law school after they complete the program and their bachelor’s degree.

Randall Davis, a student in the paralegal program who also happens to be the president of the Student Paralegal Association, is planning to take this route.

“It is my plan to become an attorney one day, and I do not know of a better way to get a head start on understanding and excelling in law school,” Davis said.

If law school isn’t the plan, or new students at TCC already have their four-year degree but are looking for a career change, then there is another choice for those students, too.

“We offer two options, both of which are approved by the American Bar Association. We offer an Associate of Applied Science Degree for students who do not already have an earned baccalaureate degree,” Silverberg said. “And an advanced certificate of completion, which requires a student to hold a baccalaureate degree in any subject prior to beginning the program.”

There are many classes within the program. Danielle Mikework, a student in the paralegal program, said she likes wills and probate because “it relates to contract law and lineage, which are two things [she] enjoys researching.”

Striving to be an attorney is why Davis’ favorite class is Business Organizations.

“Business Organizations is known as the most difficult class,” Davis said. “It taught me to think critically, like an attorney, which has helped me at my current job.”

However, if one is still on the fence about whether the paralegal program is right for them, Patrick Rake J.D., professor and co-coordinator of paralegal studies, suggests taking Introduction to the Legal System and Legal Research.

Silverberg agrees these are great options to take together because they “give a student both an overview of the law and the role of a paralegal in the legal system,” Silverberg said. “And an understanding of the organization and use of legal materials and the type of work involved in being a paralegal.”

Peers in the program as well as professors are good resources while researching the program, once in it there are more invaluable resources, including the law library at NE Campus.

“TCC NE Campus has a Legal Research Center that rivals most universities or law schools in its content of legal materials. The breadth of materials we provide for students to learn legal research in both Federal and Texas areas is significantly larger than most community colleges and in fact exceeds what is available in most Universities, unless they also have some form of Legal Studies program,” Silverberg said. “In their site visit report, the American Bar Association review committee emphasized the quality and breadth of information provided to students.”

The Student Paralegal Association is another resource for those in the program.

According to Davis, SPA can be utilized to “connect with like-minded students, and build relationships. It helps students in Paralegal Studies find their internship, and we also introduce our members to multiple well-known attorney, judges and paralegals throughout Tarrant County.”

If it turns out the Paralegal program is the right move, academic advising is a useful resource when deciding what classes to take.

“Be sure to do your advising beforehand so you don’t take classes out of order.It will make the process and curriculum easier to understand,” Mikeworth said.

If choosing a major is more difficult than expected and a law career is of interest, the paralegal program at NE Campus is always an option.

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