On Paralegal Certificate Candidacy

April 20, 2014 § 1 Comment

Happy Easter, whether you hunted some eggs, imbibed some tasty draaaaaaaaanks, or potatoed your way through a fair-weather Sunday.

On another note, it’s weird to use the moniker “thefigureskatinglawyer” when I don’t even English well, let alone have the requisite qualifications to be a lawyer. What’s up with that? About a year and a half of self-reflection, I have decided to forgo the law school route for now and get my paralegal certificate at San Francisco State University.

Wuttttttttttttttttttttt

[INTENSE “WUTTTTTT” INTENSIFIES]

Weird Undergraduate-Graduate School Limbo

Woah, as a full-time student at SF State, I could theoretically check in with Katie Specht and the USFSA Collegiate Committee and set up a team here.

Looking for other figure skating, aspiring paralegals and optional objectives aside, SFSU Paralegal Studies Program is the only American Bar Association-certified program in San Francisco and one of the few certified programs in the Bay Area. It’s a program available to undergrad students looking for additional skills, working professionals looking at a possible career change, and individuals who want a cheaper method of previewing the first year of law school.

At about $825 for a three-unit course, the tuition, books, LexisNexis student subscriptions run a prospective student about 9000 to 10000 dollars to finish the 10 classes (5 required, 5 elective). It’s the student’s option to run roughshod through this program in 12 to 18 months, take the 4-year scenic route through things, or something in between. All that to gain the relevant skills of a paralegal, have the option to do internships through the school, and decide if the law school route seems attractive at that point. That seems like a solid way to save $30,000-$40,000 in law school tuition/room & board (a conservative guess on a first year’s cost) to figure out whether law school is the next time and financial investment to make.

The curriculum allows aspiring legal professionals to gain skills that they would learn and hone in their first year of law school. Performing legal research and Shepardizing cases? Drafting legal memoranda? Ethical conduct? Assisting in the prep of cases for trial? Learn about different types of software used in law firms? That’s pretty relevant to aspiring legal professionals, I suppose.

Who Can Take Their Classes

  • Create an SFSU ID (linky link here) if you’ve never enrolled at SFSU before.
  • Read up here to figure out how to get your password.
  • Fill out this form, have a check for $50 written out to SFSU-CEL and submit it along with a college transcript

You’ve done all that? Cool, you get to do early registration and swoop on classes before they fill up on a first-come, first serve basis.

What if you’re not a part of the paralegal program and you kinda want to keep the $50 in your pocket? You can still sign up to take the classes? No way!

Fall and spring semesters have additional sections of the required classes, allowing students to fit their classes around their other class schedule or their work schedule. Maybe your day allows for you to go to class from 2:00 pm to 4:45 pm. If not, maybe you can go to class from 6:00 pm to 9:45 pm. Summer classes don’t have that luxury of having extra sections but they do have interesting electives. Summer classes do have a shorter 10 week (and one Saturday!) schedule to go over 17 weeks of material so … meh. However, yay to getting ahead in the program!

[INTENSE INTRIGUE INTENSIFIES]

[INTENSE INTRIGUE INTENSIFIES]

Internships

At the very least, having a paralegal certificate from an ABA-certified program gives you an advantage over college graduates looking for the same job. After meeting with program director Pat Medina and going through a few interviews with prospective internship supervisors, you can gain valuable experience that would’ve been tough to get otherwise.

Through professional relationships Pat Medina has cultivated at these public and private organizations, the students have a chance to end the no job because of experience/no experience because no job Catch-22 we’ve all grown to love. The organizations get to teach some of these students how to paralegal and maybe convince them that they can get a job there. Yay!

***

My classmates from college are going on to do some big, money-making things. Some are investment bankers. Some are figuring out this whole top-14 law school thing and passing bars, state, patent, etc. Some are going to be the finest dentists and doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area (In looks or skills? We’ll let Yelp, Tumblr, BuzzFeed decide on that one). Some are going to be champion figure skaters who coach other champion figure skaters on the side. Some are going to be wonderful parents. Some will have a really hard time figuring out what to do with a lot of money.

Instead of being in a rush to beat others to [random accomplishment], I’m beginning to understand that my peers and I will reach our career and life destinations at different points of our lives. That said, whether or not it takes me 12 months or 4 years, I’m going to finish this rad program and become a certified, bona fide paralegal. I still have no idea which field of law I’m interested in or whether I’ll even stay in law. I haven’t completely shut the door on going to law school either. I still feel like I’ve taken a step in the right direction.

[INTENSE RIGHT DIRECTION INTENSIFIES]

[INTENSE RIGHT DIRECTION INTENSIFIES]

Would it be more appropriate to call myself “thefigureskatinglegalprofessional” as opposed to “thefigureskatinglawyer?” Maybe, but that seems like a cumbersome mouthful. Also, TWSS.

thefigureskatinglawyerlegalprofessionallawyer

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