By Brandy Voirin/ reporter
In the Heritage Room in the NE library, legal assistant professor Karen Silverberg gathered students together with a panel of three paralegal experts discussing the next steps in their careers.
But quickly, Silverberg turned the topic to the recent decision by the American Bar Association to approve TCC’s paralegal education program.
Students cheered and clapped.
TCC is one of 12 Texas schools who have received this status.
“This means TCC’s paralegal program is recognized as meeting the highest quality standards of paralegal programs in the country,” she said. “This is such a huge honor.”
Silverberg said breaking down the door to receive the American Bar Association approval for the paralegal program is a long, difficult process.
With only two full-time employees and a handful of support staff, they finally got it done.
“The process took over a year,” Silverberg said. “And we’ve attempted it several times in the past 10 years, but due to many variables, rule changes and so on, we never completed the complex process.
“It’s like doing your own mini-accreditation review. The detail that they want you to go into of the program is difficult.”
Silverberg said the report itself is an inch thick with attachments, similar to students’ final projects or studying for the paralegal certification test, but 10 times worse.
Former student and paralegal panelist Jessica Amyett said the willingness of the people in the program to submit to this process speaks volumes about the educators at TCC and the length they will go to make sure students succeed.
Amyett knows a lot about that process.
Graduating from the program in 2009, she decided not to take the paralegal certification test, which meant she had no credibility to employers.
“Finding a job was hard,” she said. “I struggled. No one would hire me to be a paralegal. Having the CP title on my resume required taking a test — a grueling, long, expensive test.”
Amyett applied for many jobs because of her paralegal training, but employers wouldn’t budge.
“I had the knowledge but needed help. I called Karen and asked for help when studying for the test because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own,” she said. “I finally took the certification test and doors swung open.”
Amyett is the first paralegal for the Ben E. Keith Co. in Fort Worth.
“I’m proud to be an alumna of TCC,” she said. “The ABA approval of the TCC paralegal studies program provides national credibility to a program that is already highly respected in local legal communities. ABA approval of a paralegal education program is a long and arduous process. It’s also voluntary.”
Business and social sciences dean Linda Wright knows how hard her team worked and supports everyone involved.
“From the on-site visit to submitting the paperwork, I’m very proud of how the team handled the long process,” she said. “And I congratulate the program on obtaining such a prestigious honor.”