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Celebrating 38 Years of Service to the Paralegal Community

Posted by Center for Advanced Legal Studies [CALS]

Mar 1, 2024 7:00:00 AM

38-yearsLast week marked 38 years that Center for Advanced Legal Studies (CALS) has supported, guided, and prepared students to become paralegals. For nearly four decades CALS has pushed its students to grow, believing every single one could find success, and providing them with the training to achieve it. The dedication and determination of many incredible people – our students and alumni – have made this continuous progress possible. They invested in their hopes, dreams, and career aspirations and believed that a paralegal education could transform their lives. And it did! CALS has instructed and inspired thousands of paralegals and has countless accomplished graduates. CALS has also benefited from the support of faculty, staff, and community partners. 

On February 23rd, 1987, the first group of 26 students (16 day students and 10 evening students) started classes on Richmond Avenue in Houston, Texas, beginning their study of law and embarking on a journey to become paralegals. Over the years, CALS has grown and transformed into a technologically savvy educational institution providing students with access to advanced learning technologies, tools, and resources.

As a measure of success, CALS ranked second nationally in the number of paralegal credentials conferred, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2021-2022 survey. CALS ranked first in Texas with 229 credentials conferred, representing nearly 23% of all accredited paralegal certificates and degrees awarded in the state! 

While CALS has a significantly larger population today, its primary mission is still to create a strong paralegal workforce that meets the needs of the legal community. CALS continues to operate under the philosophy of its initial mission and vision – to ensure students, graduates, and their employers of premium paralegal education and training. It is through a comprehensive curriculum, experienced faculty, dedicated staff, a multi-faceted Program Advisory Committee, and relationships with local firms and professional organizations, that CALS is consistently able to graduate students who are prepared to be high performers.

CALS’ objective is to be recognized as the national leader in paralegal education, not only in the number of students served or credentials awarded, but also in the scope and quality of its programs. CALS’ commitment to continually improve is an attribute that has marked the institution’s growth and evolution since the beginning. It will undoubtedly continue to carry the school forward – in partnership with students, alumni, and supporters – to have a lasting and positive impact.

Important Milestones 

  • Paralegal Certificate – The college opened in 1987 as a branch of Career Institute, San Antonio. Two years later it became free-standing and changed its name, based on suggestions from current students, to Center for Advanced Legal Studies.

  • Associate of Applied Science Degree Program – CALS sought approval and began offering the Associate of Applied Science Degree (AAS) program in 1994. This more comprehensive program allowed students to earn their first college degree and specialize in a more varied set of practice areas. 

  • Financial Aid – Financial assistance has always been available for those who qualify; however, many students choose to limit their debt by paying for their education while attending.

  • Institutional Accreditation – CALS was initially licensed to operate by the Texas Education Agency and was accredited by the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions Division of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1987. Between 1989 and 1995, CALS was approved as an independent institution, authorized by the Texas Higher Education Board, approved to train Veterans, and accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. In 2020, CALS earned accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Accreditation is a process of external quality review used by higher education to scrutinize colleges, universities, and educational programs for quality assurance and quality improvement. Only accredited institutions can participate in federal student loan programs.

  • Blended/Hybrid Evening Classes – In 2006, CALS was approved to offer blended/hybrid evening classes. This enabled students to attend class one evening per week on campus and complete the balance of their studies online. Students preferred the blended format and enjoyed a better work/life balance. For the next three years, this delivery method proved successful and allowed CALS and its faculty and staff to become experienced in distance education delivery.

  • Online Interactive Instruction ™ – In 2009, CALS was approved to offer courses via 100% online delivery. This allowed CALS to reach a greater number of candidates, not only out-of-area students but also local students who preferred the convenience of taking classes online. By 2013, CALS was offering complete paralegal certificate and degree programs online.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Law and Business This innovative program launched in January 2024. It is intended primarily for graduates of paralegal programs at CALS and other accredited institutions and is designed to help paralegals enhance and advance their legal careers and to better qualify for opportunities in the commercial and business sectors.

During the past 38 years, CALS has been in three different locations, conferred some 6,000 credentials, overcome numerous obstacles, and embraced countless opportunities. A lot was learned along the way. Some lessons came easy, and others were quite challenging. All the while CALS has delivered on the goals, values, and principles it started with in 1987. Hats off to CALS! The current staff and faculty are grateful to be on this journey and excited to see where it leads our students next.


Tami Riggs 125px Tami Riggs
Director of Outreach and Career Services

Tami has an extensive and varied professional background that spans criminal justice, paralegal education, and international school marketing and communication. Her career has been guided by a focus on developing strategic partnerships that facilitate school growth and student opportunity. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Degree in Criminal Justice from Texas State University.



Eric H. Happe
Associate Director

Eric is a graduate of the Paralegal Certificate program and worked as a paralegal for six years before returning to Center for Advanced Legal Studies in various administrative capacities. Eric managed the development of online paralegal programs at CALS and works closely with faculty and staff to provide students with quality paralegal education and training opportunities both on campus and online.

Please feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn

Topics: education and training, featured

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