May 9, 2017 2:20:00 PM
Aug 15, 2012 3:43:00 PM
Aug 13, 2012 9:30:00 AM
Specialized Paralegal Training or Law School?
With evolving demands in today’s job market, more bachelor’s degree holders are contemplating a return to school in search of a final stepping stone towards a stable, meaningful, and intellectually stimulating career. Given the varied degree paths (Post baccalaureate, Master’s, Juris Doctor, etc.) and wide-range in tuition and fees, careful consideration should be given in comparing costs vs. benefits and pragmatism vs. prestige when selecting the best program.
Attending law school is a dream of many interested in legal fields and a surge in law degree programs and class size has made that pursuit possible for more people than ever – so much that the influx of law degree grads over the past several years has far outpaced the availability of attorney positions, forcing schools to drastically cut enrollments1. In data compiled by the ABA, law school alumni from the class of 2011 indicated that only 55% of graduates were employed in jobs that required passing the bar exam, while 30% reported being unemployed, underemployed, or back in graduate school. A number of ABA accredited schools reported fewer than 40% of recent grads were employed as attorneys2.
Adding to the encumbrance of recent law school graduates is the trend of tuition fees skyrocketing alongside enrollments. Indeed, over the last 20 years law school tuition has grown at a rate 4.5 times faster than the already escalating fees at 4-year schools3. In 2010, law students graduating with debt owed an average of $98,500, with many owing well into the six-digits4. Law school is a worthwhile dream for anyone looking for a challenging and prosperous career. But with the recent surplus of highly educated, deeply indebted law school graduates competing for mid-level positions, it is also a dream worth postponing until the market stabilizes.
If you are considering a law degree, treat your education choice with the gravity it merits and research your options carefully:
Understand the real cost of a program, including student loan deferments and interest rates. Know that the comparatively high tuition of law and business degree programs are frequently used by schools to subsidize less prosperous programs, sometimes by as much as 30%5. Make sure the curriculum is worth the price.
Ask pointed questions about a program’s advertised employment data. Be sure a school is not padding surveyed employment numbers with non-responders, temporary positions, and jobs unrelated to the degree program6. Additionally, salary data can be skewed when high-earners report salaries at a greater rate than low-earners.
The faculty and staff of Center for Advanced Legal Studies have dedicated over 25 years to the sole purpose of preparing & training students for careers as paralegals and related legal positions.
Curriculum at CALS is specifically formatted to provide a comprehensive foundation for careers in the legal field, as well as simulate work-place scenarios. An education from Center for Advanced Legal Studies can launch a paralegal career; it can also accomplish an important stride on a path to law school. Regardless of your ultimate career goal, Center for Advanced Legal Studies is committed to fostering skills and opening doors to a rewarding career in an expansive and evolving legal field.
Nasri, G. “Law Schools Feel the Heat From Unemployed Grads,” HuffPost College, Feb. 24, 2012.
Palazzo, J. “Law Grads Face Brutal Job Market,” Wall Street Journal, Jun. 25, 2012. Caplan, L. “An Existential Crisis for Law Schools,” New York Times, Jul. 14, 2012.
Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics
Henderson, W. and Zahorsky, R. “The Law School Bubble: How Long Will It Last if Law Grads Can’t Pay Bills?,” ABA Journal, Jan. 1, 2012.
Segal, D. “Law School Economics: Ka-Ching!”, New York Times, Jul 16, 2011.
Segal, D. “Is Law School a Losing Game?,” New York Times, Jan 8, 2011.
May 15, 2012 3:59:00 PM
Apr 1, 2012 3:25:00 PM
Gretchen Havens is a faculty member who teaches Introduction to Speech at Center for Advanced Legal Studies.
How many speeches do you think you’ll give during your life? “Hopefully,” you say, “none!” So what purpose can a Speech course serve for a paralegal in the real world?
If Speech were only about giving speeches, you would have good reason to doubt its usefulness. But a Speech course also helps develop a number of skills that come into play once you are working. As you know, few occupations demand more of you than the legal profession when it comes to thinking on your feet and communicating clearly. Interestingly, those are just the skills you need to deliver a good speech.
Looking at the comparison more closely, the process of preparing a speech requires the same analytical and organizational abilities required of a paralegal. On the job, you may use those abilities in writing deposition or document summaries, case status memoranda, or something as simple as a transmittal letter. In Speech class, analyzing and organizing data are used to develop an outline of what you’re going to say, the first step in putting a speech together. In either case, incidentally, you usually don’t have much time to get the work done!
After outlining a speech comes the actual writing. Because strong written communication skills are a universal requirement for a paralegal, speech writing proves quite valuable. During the Speech course at Center for Advanced Legal Studies, AAS Degree students write and deliver one talk a week. This provides an extended opportunity to increase your proficiency in sentence structure, grammar, usage and spelling. In general, delivering speeches just naturally develops your capacity to formulate and transmit ideas more clearly. Why? Because, as authors know, there is nothing like speaking your own words out loud to give you a valid perspective on the quality of your writing.
Another major component of creating a speech is research, a task you may perform in your paralegal career. Legal research includes identifying appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials that are relevant to your assigned cases.Besides locating the data, you must sort through it to pinpoint the exact material you need. Preparing speeches serves as good practice, since even a three-to-five- minute talk can entail tracking down and summarizing information from a number of sources.
Of course, any discussion about Speech has to address the fear factor, since it is a matter of record that most people would rather have a root canal than speak in front of others. A wise speech teacher addresses this issue right away, getting you to write down your fears and leading a class discussion on the topic. S/he will also teach you a variety of tools for reducing your anxiety both before and during a presentation.
But it is often the repetition of giving speeches in class, week by week, that helps manage your anxiety the most. Stepping out of your comfort zone in this manner reaps big benefits, specifically a boost to your self-confidence, self-worth and assertiveness. You begin to enjoy these rewards on the spot with the peer support that emerges in a Speech class. The positive feedback exchanged during critique sessions raises individual morale and promotes team spirit. Teamwork is also cultivated with exercises in which students break into groups, then block out and write speeches together. Exposure to this kind of brainstorming helps prepare you for the future possibility of workingin teams with one or more lawyers, paralegals, or legal secretaries.
You can see that, even if you never give another speech again in your life, you can carry over a good deal of relevant experience from a Speech course to a paralegal post. Reassuringly, these six weeks of instruction take place in a supportive environment where you learn from your missteps and expand on your strengths while your classmates root you on. Once you settle into the workplace, you may look back at this experience as one of the most helpful building blocks in your paralegal training.
- Gretchen Havens