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Center for Advanced Legal Studies Paralegal Education and Training
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Paralegal Blog

Academic Dean's Commitment To Paralegal Students

Posted by Gail Armatys

Jan 31, 2014 11:06:00 AM

Thomas B. Swanson, Paralegal Dean & Faculty 

Thomas B. Swanson, J.D.
Academic Dean and Faculty

"Students realize that I'm committed to them entering the field and doing well..."

An Original Paralegal Instructor

Thomas Swanson is an original. He was the first teacher that the Center for Advanced Legal Studies hired 27 years ago and his crusty charm, self-effacing humor, and extensive knowledge of the law make him someone to impress and emulate for students and faculty alike.

An Original Paralegal

Born in Washington, D.C., Swanson served in the United States Air Force from 1971 to 1976 where he worked primarily as a paralegal. He received a Commendation Medal for his outstanding service as an investigator in the USAF Foreign Claims Commission in Taipei, Taiwan. After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Florida,  he came to Houston, where he entered  the South Texas College of Law, graduating with a Doctorate of Jurisprudence. He was licensed as Texas attorney by the Supreme Court of Texas in May of 1981. After having worked for a number of years at an established Houston law firm, Swanson started his own firm in 1986.

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Topics: faculty, online classes, education and training

Online Paralegal Student Takes Steps Toward Reaching Goals

Posted by Gail Armatys

Jan 2, 2014 12:37:00 PM

Michelle Baker - Paralegal StudentMichelle Baker – Tenacious Professional

It was the strict admonition of a caring parent that triggered Michelle’s interest in the law. When the movie Helter Skelter came out, her father felt his 18-year-old daughter was too young for its graphic content. She did not watch the movie, but she did become curious.  So when she came across the book several years later, she bought it and read it. But it was not the gruesome details of Charles Manson’s murderous rampage that captured Michelle’s imagination, it was the law and its machinations that the prosecutor employed to try to bring the famed killer to trial. She was amazed at the detail, complexity and depth in the law and she was hooked.

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Topics: online classes, education and training

Endless Opportunities for Paralegal Employment

Posted by Katie Fridsma

Dec 17, 2013 9:03:00 AM

Whether you’re interested in a paralegal education or already a paralegal, you may be wondering what jobs are available for paralegals.  What if you are not interested in working as a traditional paralegal?  Are you looking for something different, but don’t know what else you can do with a paralegal certificate or degree?  Here are just a few related jobs that applicants with paralegal training can branch into:

Contracts Administrator  Paralegal career opportunities

Do you enjoy reviewing contracts?  A contract administrator makes sure the parties involved practice due diligence and comply with the terms, conditions, rights and obligations of a contract. He or she also coordinates any changes to the agreement that might occur over the course of the contract and performs the closeout process when both parties have met their obligations.  If you loved your Corporate and Business Law class, then this may be an area of interest for you!

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Topics: technology, graduates and alumni, career, education and training, paralegal skills

Education vs. Experience: Which Is More Valuable to Paralegal Employers?

Posted by Katie Fridsma

Dec 10, 2013 9:03:00 AM

The great debate

When employers look to hire a new employee, which do they believe is better—education or experience?  Does book knowledge outweigh hands-on experience?  Or would a “seasoned” employee be a better addition to the team?

Those on the education side quickly cite various statistics on the impact of education on a person’s future, employability, and earnings.  Yet, those who lean to the side of experience always bring up famous college dropouts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.paralegal experience

Someone with a formal education and considered “book smart” may easily deal with real-world work situations. However, they may still have a hard time landing that first job if they lack experience.  On the other hand, the person with experience but lacking any formal education may do well in certain positions.  However, they may find it difficult to advance professionally in their chosen career.

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Topics: career, paralegal externship, education and training

It’s a Wonderful Time to Be a Paralegal!

Posted by Katie Fridsma

Nov 26, 2013 3:01:00 PM

By Thomas B. Swanson, J.D.

Let’s take a look back in time…

During most of the history of the practice of law, legal documents were handwritten by skilled paralegals first known as scribes and later as scriveners.  Legal documents during this period were customized, and the quality of the handwriting, in addition to the content, was important.  In other words, legal documents were distinctive, in part, because the handwriting added an artistic quality.  Beginning in about 1900, this was to change in a major way with the introduction of the typewriter.typewriter for paralegals back in time

The typewriter offered not only much greater efficiency with respect to the preparation of legal documents, it also established a much greater uniformity.  The distinctive handwriting of the scrivener gave way to a new consistency in format and a greater focus on content.  The result was no less than a transformation of the practice of law, as well as the role of the paralegal.  The “Perry Mason/Della Street” era in the history of law practice had begun, and the legal secretary became the primary non-lawyer presence in the law office. 

A change in skill-sets…

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Topics: career, online classes, education and training, paralegal skills

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