After years of financial struggle caused by numerous layoffs, Kimberly and her husband, and her three rescue dogs, moved to Vancouver. Going back to school to learn new skills seemed like the perfect solution to their one-income family. "It has honestly been the most rewarding step I have taken towards my future and has been an amazing growing experience as well," Kimberly said. The Paralegal profession encompassed many of the skills Kimberly already possessed. Indeed, she felt the most challenging courses for her were her favorites: Legal Writing, and Law & Economics.
Always having been fascinated by the US Justice System, Kimberly has the utmost compassion for the "underdog," so she greatly appreciated the diversity, challenge and uniqueness within the Criminal Law field. However, she completed her internship in estate planning and land use. "When researching for the appropriate internship destination, make an effort to keep your options open," Kimberly explained.
Robyn Brown began the Paralegal program at Clark College in 2010 after a year-long debilitating work injury. She had previously worked in law enforcement and a new career in Law seemed a natural progression and opportunity.
"I was very excited to return to education and looked forward to all my classes, which I found challenging and fun. I had wonderful instructors, comprised of attorneys as well as paralegals working in the field."
Quickly she learned that criminal law was a narrow field and she expanded her area of interest, such as family law, corporate, business law, wills, and estate law. She says, "Legal Research was invaluable!" She was at home in the Law Library. Other great classes were those in computer skills, such as the Microsoft Suite classes.
She describes her internship, "Working in an attorney's office is extremely fast paced with many interruptions. New clients come in, cases you are working on develop problems or changes that must be attended to immediately, then you must return to the place you left off and start again!"
Words of advice? She says, "Stay informed and updated. Join any of the paralegal associations in the area such as Oregon Paralegal Association (OPA)."
When the mortgage industry crashed in 2008, Michele started at Clark College as a divorced mother of three, looking for a career change. She entered the Paralegal Program with the intention of pursuing Law School after completing a Bachelor's degree. "I had the opportunity to learn from amazing instructors here at Clark," she said. A pleasant surprise was taking a course in Estate Planning and Probate as she had presumed she would have no interest in such, but as it turned out the class was very interesting and critical towards her internship experience. Her internship exposed her to many aspects of working in a law firm, such as client interviews for personal injury and bankruptcy. She also says, "I have spent most of my time at Clark involved with the Law Club. I would recommend all paralegal students get involved with the law club it is a great networking tool!"
Angela's Story: After a layoff, she returned to school for a career change. Wishing to make a difference in lives of families, she enrolled in Clark College's Paralegal classes to ultimately work in a Family Law practice. Her favorite classes gave her experience drafting court documents, investigating an accident scene and more. In fact, she opted for two Internships to give her more experience! In that role as intern, she was able to assist law office attorneys and staff to investigate client cases in bankruptcy, insurance claims, dependency, and criminal. She says, "I've learned that the attorneys help clients see the consequences they are going to going to face. They let them make their own decisions and advise them on what will happen, but ultimately it is their own decision."
Working on various interests in his college career choices, Dmitriy discovered he had a penchant for law. One thing led to another and in Summer 2012 he was getting his Paralegal Certificate of Proficiency on top of his AA. Now, he is furthering his education by enrolling in Washington State University (Vancouver). His interest in law split between Criminal Law and Personal Injury. At Clark, he learned his classes were staffed by instructors who had extensive knowledge and told him real life experiences from their practice. Indeed, one professor became his mentor, Prof. Greg Gonzales, who is now a Clark County Superior Court Judge. "Prof. Gonzales made a great effort to engage the class in his lectures and explained things until everyone understood. In addition, he told us many stories from his law practice to make the lectures more interesting and help us understand the material," Dmitriy said. Yet his internship was probably the most exciting part Dmitriy's academic career. Gaining the chance to attend court with his supervising attorney, a Public Defender, Dmitriy attended Arraignment Hearings, Readiness Hearings and more. He also assisted in interviews with Police Officers and Handwriting Experts in Forgery cases.
As part of his courses, Dmitriy also participated in the Paralegal Program's class field trips and extra credit opportunities, such as the trip to visit the Supreme Court of Washington. "When we arrived, we went to the Washington State Legislative Building and our tour guide showed us the different rooms where the House of Representatives and Senators sat during meetings. Afterwards, we met two of the Justices and heard their stories from how they were raised, their education and current issues. It was a great experience because we got the chance to interact with our classmates and see things in real life that we had been reading in books or learning in class," Dmitriy said.
Bruce's Story: Working full-time and going to college, Bruce learned quickly the skills of time management. Indeed, when he came to the end of this Paralegal program, he started his internship requirements in addition to his work. Yet, he produced quality work according to his my supervising attorney. Bruce said, "The first few assignments were relatively easy, but as time progressed some got more difficult, because it had to do with an area of law that I had not learned about."
Bruce's internship dealt with personal injury and subrogation cases. "I took pride in doing the very best I could," he said.
Bruce was overwhelmed when he learned his twenty-five year career ended at his lay-off. At age 58, and with encouragement from his wife, Bruce began to explore his possibilities at Clark College. "I have always been interested in the legal field. While I possessed a prior Bachelor's degree in Political Science, I decided going to law school wasn't the path for me, but working as a paralegal was. So, in 2010, Bruce entered the Paralegal Program. "I wondered what it would be like in college with people much younger than I, but soon discovered a wide range of ages and I fit in just fine." He learned quickly he enjoyed the classes including one which gave him a project which he now uses as a writing sample for his prospective employers.
His internship at a large, national law firm with its offices in Portland/Vancouver gave him vital hands-on experience with law office management software, job-shadowing attorneys, and more. As an example of how his course-work at Clark helped him, Bruce said, "My Computer Research in Law course was very helpful when one of the staff and I used a few different websites, including the website for the Washington Secretary of State, to determine the correct name of the executive of a company involved in the firm's litigation caseload."
When one of his Clark professors recently received an appointment to Clark County Superior Court Judge, former Professor Greg Gonzales, Bruce remarked, "He still calls me Bruce, but now I call him Judge."
Ilya's family came to America in 1997. As a first generation immigrant, Ilya discovered at 16 years of age he had a calling for law and working in a legal based setting. Two years later, he decided to start at Clark College's Paralegal Program, hopefully to pursue his dream of being an attorney after leaving Clark. "I began to grow immense respect for my professors and the people I had come across. I then realized that I wanted to work in the legal world as a Criminal Defense Attorney," Ilya said. Ilya enjoyed various law courses which utilized multiple hands-on projects and activities for the class.
Ilya's internship in Portland gave him a chance under the direction of his supervising attorney to meet with clients and create a new understanding of attorney/client trust and professionalism. Such experience confirmed his desire to one day succeed as a Criminal Defense Attorney.