We recognized Fort Hays State University for offering one of Top Entry-Level, Pre-Degree Paralegal Certificate Programs, adding them to our list of top recommendations for students in the area.
We were excited to hear from Wendy Rohleder-Sook, faculty member at Fort Hays State University, who took the time to answer a few questions about how the school works to create a great student experience that helps prepare graduates for a career in the legal field.
Wendy: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a faster than average expected job growth in the paralegal profession over the next ten years (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm). While we haven’t seen a significant number of career changers in our program to date, it is likely that this projected growth in the profession may spur an increase in the number of individuals looking to pursue a career in the legal profession.
Paralegals are really getting the respect they deserve these days, and taking on more and more responsibilities on the job. How is this changing the approach to educating new paralegals?
Wendy: Adaptability to changing job environments and responsibilities requires a diverse set of skills in research, writing, critical thinking, and organization – just to name a few. Education programs that include a variety of courses and co-curricular experiences related to legal studies and research, as well as other academic disciplines, can provide a real advantage to job seekers. Our paralegal academic certificate includes courses in legal studies and research, business law, business communications, and ethics. In addition, students can expand their coursework into legal advocacy, constitutional law, criminal justice, and beyond. Our partnership with the Center for Legal Studies provides additional opportunities for paralegal and advanced paralegal courses. The diversity of coursework offered in all of these programs fits well with a changing job environment and the responsibilities required of paralegals.
Does the program at your school include an internship and are faculty available to help students find one?
Wendy: While an internship is not required to complete the paralegal academic certificate, a number of our students choose to combine the certificate with a bachelor’s degree in political science, which requires a one-hour internship experience. Students also have opportunities to work in apprenticeships in law firms and develop their skills on the job. Our faculty members assist students in finding internships and apprenticeships that can provide valuable first-hand experience in the field.
What are some of the things you love most about the paralegal program at your school – the kind of things you’d like future students to know about as they consider their options?
Wendy: At Fort Hays State University, our diverse course offerings, engaged faculty, extra-curricular opportunities, and affordable tuition prepare and guide students for rewarding careers in the legal profession. We offer courses in a variety of academic disciplines that incorporate hands-on educational experiences. This approach allows students to develop the skills necessary to hit the ground running in paralegal careers.
Our faculty are actively engaged in guiding students through their academic programs and subsequent career paths. Their expertise and accessibility combine to create a solid academic and advising foundation for students to thrive.
Our extra-curricular opportunities, like the Pre-Law Society, enhance the student experience. Students learn about the legal profession, participate in community service, connect with other students, and develop leadership skills through involvement in these activities.
FHSU offers all of these advantages at an affordable cost. Together, our low tuition rate and quality program create an exceptional value for students pursuing a career in the legal profession.
Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their paralegal programs.