We recognized Lewis and Clark Community College for offering one of the 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 Rebecca Gockel, faculty member at Lewis and Clark Community College, 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.
Rebecca: About 60% of our program students are career changers looking to gain a new skill set for entering the legal profession. Because the local job market for paralegals is in high demand right now, students are finding jobs in the legal field prior to graduating. Placement rate for those who do not wish to enter the field early and wait until graduation is at an all time high.
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?
Rebecca: Employer Involvement highlights:
Employers on program advisory board participation in curriculum development.
Intern supervisors provide student performance feedback to students.
Local firms volunteer to attend various classes to speak about new laws, technology, and give career development advice regarding interviewing skills and resume writing.
Many firm recruit exclusively from LCCC’s program and/or give our students first priority before posting jobs in general public.
I enjoy watching paralegal jobs and opportunities for my students continue to skyrocket in our district. as a result of employers hiring students and graduates, seeing how skilled and valuable they are and continuing to want more in their law offices.
Does the program at your school include an internship and are faculty available to help students find one?
Rebecca: Lewis and Clark partners with local businesses and organizations to provide students with valuable internship opportunities. Paralegal students benefit from internships at several organizations, for example JusticeCorps and Gori Julian & Associates, PC.
“We acclimate our new interns into the fast-paced litigation arena by teaching them about the many departments within our firm, and how they fit into the litigation process,” said Gori Julian & Associates Human Resource Manager Caitlin Lagemann. “Interns receive training in our document and data management systems and assist our senior paralegals with their workload while getting hands-on experience.”
L&C Paralegal graduate Carlie R. Stover transitioned from her internship role at Gori Julian & Associates into a full-time job.
‘Working for Gori Julian & Associates has been the best experience of my professional career,” Stover said. “My co-workers have been very supportive and accommodating throughout my internship and current position. Through cross-training and having the Senior paralegals easily accessible, I’ve experienced more at Gori Julian in the first few months than other entry-level paralegals would have at other firms.”
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?
Rebecca: Multiple locations/formats
Updated curriculum (2016)
High retention rate of students
High success rates
Improved time to completion rate
30 and Out option (Post-graduate fast track)
Low Faculty/Student ratios
Increased networking and placement tracking via LinkedIn group networking and private group
Program has expanded into more areas of law (e.g., new family law course) since last program review
Higher awareness of program in local law firms
Affiliation with St. Louis Paralegal Association (scholarships and mentor program)
MBU Bachelors Degree 2+2
University of Illinois, Springfield Bachelors in Legal Studies – accepts 100% of LC’s paralegal courses
All PLGL faculty are Blackboard trained
Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their paralegal programs.