Paralegal Student Success Stories

Dharma Devarapalli

Graduate Looks to SF State Students for New Hires

Hi Baseemah & Pat:

I am an old time student of SF State Paralegal Program. My maiden name when I studied there was "Dharma Gudapati."

I want to start by saying that I am extremely glad and proud that I did the program. I proudly display my certificate in my cube and have recommended this program to a lot of my friends. :) I am very happy with the way my career has progressed since the time I graduated in 2006. In the past five years, I have worked as an Immigration Paralegal in various law firms and now am working for HCL Technologies/HCL America as an Immigration coordinator for their company.

Thank you for a great program that has provided me a basis and the right guidance to where I am now. I know as a student, all I wanted to do was to get a job. So am sure you have a lot of eager students out there looking for a job. Below is a job opening in our company for a Legal Assistant. We are not looking for much experience. But, someone who has some admin experience and is spirited to do the job. :) You can send the resumes to my attention and I would be glad to forward it to the right person. :)

Thank you for all your help and guidance. Do let me know if I can be of any help for the school or the Paralegal program.

Thank you!

Warmly,
Dharma Devarapalli

Silvana Cordon

Hi Pat,

Hope you are doing well. I wanted to share this good news with you personally, I just recently found a job as a business immigration paralegal. The job is in Pleasanton, CA so I will be closer to my new home. I am excited to go work for another level of immigration, this last year has been such a great learning experience, my current bosses have been so great to me. I have learned a lot from them and will take those teachings with me for the rest of my professional life. I actually start my new job this Monday, May 14, sadly, today is my last day at my old job. Everything has worked out wonderfully, the San Francisco State Paralegal Certification Program definitely prepares you for the paralegal profession!

I want to thank you for your continued support and guidance and please let me know if I can be of any service to you. Thanks again. Talk to you soon.

Silvana Cordon

Michelle Barton

Pat,

I received a phone call yesterday from Marimart Paulbitski, she indicated that you had given her my name. I appreciate very much the reference. I will keep you posted on my job search. I also want to take the opportunity to thank you for a great experience in the paralegal program at SF State. I have recently had the opportunity to meet some paralegal students from other programs, and I recognize and appreciate the high quality education that I have received and the opportunities to learn all that I have learned--I feel very prepared to enter the job market.

Thank you,
Michelle Barton

Korinn Ruiz

Fall 2011 Graduate Found Job through Networking at January Career Fair

Hi Pat,

This is Korinn Ruiz. Hope the semester is going well. I wanted to let you know that your career fair was a success! I spoke briefly to Kimberly Cooley-Reyes afterwards and she told me about the Foreign Filing Assistant position at Mo Fo. I applied and two interviews later, I got the job! I will be in the Palo Alto office and start this coming Monday, Feb. 27. I am so excited for this opportunity and look forward to learning as much as I can.

Thank you for your help during my time in the paralegal program. I'd be happy to come back and speak to new students about my experience. Finishing the program in a year was hard work but it seems to paying off!

All the best,
Korinn

Ava Blum

It's Never Too Late to Return to School for a Successful Career Change

I was a paralegal for several law firms in San Francisco from 1986-1992. My areas of interest were probate and family law. I relocated to New Mexico and continued briefly as a paralegal in employment law. I then changed career paths, and returned to school in Colorado in 1999 to become a Landscape Architect. By 2004, I was working in Seattle.

At the end of 2009, I was laid off and unemployed. I decided to return to the Bay Area to be closer to family. It was clear that in the current economy I had to find work in a field that was growing and hiring. I contacted my prior employer, a family law specialist, for a meeting. He said I should return to school to upgrade my skills. I did my research and attended the orientation at San Francisco State. I began the program in June 2010 and completed it this past August.

What have I learned?

  1. It's never too late to return to school to either gain new skills or upgrade the ones you have.
  2. Pick an area of law you enjoy and would like to work in, and then excel in that class. Show the teacher how you would be an outstanding candidate for that specific paralegal position.
  3. Make every writing assignment count. Save the best and place in a binder to take to your interview.
  4. For paralegal salary information in the Bay Area, visit the Robert Half website (roberthalf.com) to download their free survey. It will detail appropriate salary information based on the ZIP code, firm size, and position level.
  5. Network with everyone by joining the SF Paralegal Association, and attending the law section that interests you. Locate an internship in an area you like, and volunteer for an organization willing to give you the opportunity.

So, did I listen to my own advice?

Yes, and here's a brief overview.

  • While returning to school was difficult at times, it was enjoyable and I learned something new every day.
  • I enrolled in probate, estate planning and family law classes. I worked hard and made sure the teachers knew me and my capabilities.
  • I took my writing assignments seriously, and placed the best ones in a binder for future use.
  • I downloaded the Robert Half salary survey and kept it in a binder for future use.
  • I joined the SF Paralegal Association and attended their meetings and sectional meetings. I joined their Pro Bono committee. I located an Internship that provided real world experience, and a great professional reference. I am currently a volunteer with the Alameda Bar Association's family law and guardianship clinics. It is rewarding to help those unable to navigate the legal system.

And the good news.

  • I just accepted a paralegal position with a family law firm.
  • My family law teacher had emailed her former students about this position. When I applied, I referred to my teacher and was told at the interview she gave me a great reference. My binders included work from both discovery classes, family law and estate planning, as well as my internship supervisor's evaluation. The interviewers definitely reviewed everything.
  • When we discussed salary, I referred to the Robert Half survey, handing them a copy highlighting what was the market salary.
  • My volunteer work was discussed at the interview.

Don't give up and keep all options open. Be prepared and ready for the opportunity that will surely come.

It is so easy to get discouraged and so hard to be patient. Patience is usually rewarded.

I wish you the best of luck.

Hilary Chen

Graduate Receives a Full Scholarship to Law School

Hi Pat & Eduardo,

My old law school, Golden Gate University, has offered me a seat for fall 2016 and a full-tuition scholarship for all three years! I’m still waiting to hear from other schools, but I don’t think I'll be able to turn down a full scholarship, especially with a baby on the way.

A huge part of my application was highlighting the fact that I spent the past few years enrolled in SF State's paralegal program, obtained my paralegal certificate, and found work in the legal field. All of these things I owe to the paralegal program and to you, Pat, for recommending that I apply to work here at Grotefeld Hoffman.

Thank you both for helping me while I was a student and during the law school application process!

Best regards,

Hilary Chen
Legal Assistant

Photo: Paralegal Graduate John Ravelo

John Ravelo

South Bay Student Makes Commute Count

When I learned about SF State's Paralegal Program, I knew that it would pave way for an opportunity to finally shift into a legal career, despite numerous failed attempts in the past. Indeed, while halfway into the program, I got hired by a law firm to work as a paralegal. I believe that the mention of the program on my résumé significantly helped me in being selected for the position. Thanks to the Program Director, Pat Medina, who helped me tailor my resume for the new career that I was pursuing. I have been working for a law firm for almost a year now, gaining valuable paralegal experience even before my graduation from the program in spring 2011.

I chose to attend SF State's Paralegal Studies Program because of its good reputation as an ABA-approved program, the impressive roster of professors, and the availability of financial aid, despite the presence of other paralegal schools closer to my home in the South Bay. I am grateful to Pat and my professors who were not only supportive in school; since I did not have prior law firm experience, Pat and my professors provided me with excellent references during the hiring process.

SF State's Paralegal Studies Program also boosted my interest in the law. I am highly considering law school in the future, and I am glad to have gained an excellent foundation in legal education by attending the program.

Badin Kangsadarnsenanont

International Student Finds Success

Dear Pat,

I graduated in fall '10. It would be nice to get an invitation to attend the graduation ceremony. I'd like to thank you once again for guiding me through the program. Without your kind advice and various opportunities you have given me, I would not have been able to make it this far. I have finally found my true self. I realized immigration law is what I want to specialize in, particularly the scope of criminal immigration, e.g., Deportation Defense, U-Visa petition, VAWA Petition, T-Visa, S-Visa. Business immigration is somewhat colorless. In addition, I am truly fortunate to have been training with Ms. Angela Warren. She is one super sharp/sophisticated attorney. I have already learned so much from her. I strongly suggest that later-generation interns from our program be referred to her. They will learn considerably being with Ms. Warren.

I wish you good health, Pat. Please continue being with us/giving us advice/teaching here at SF State.

Warmly,
Badin Kangsadarnsenanont

Pam Rolph

Education + Experience: A Winning Combination!

I graduated from the program in January 1999, which I completed to bolster my understanding and skills for my law firm job-shortly before California Business & Professional Code §§6450-6456 became law in September 2000. I had been doing some paralegal work along with legal secretarial work, and while my supervising attorneys were willing to teach me, full-time law firm work did not allow much "spare" time at the office for training.

I had come to the program after several years in education; law was my second career. Completing the program provided a range of knowledge and skills that qualified me to move into full-time paralegal work. The program assured my bosses that I had the professional background for more advanced work, first at the law firm for several years; then at a major Internet company for the last six years; and now, starting next month, at the world's global technology leader. My new employer wanted experience, and the SF State program made it possible for me to acquire it-and to earn a six-figure income as well!

Through the program, I also gained invaluable networking connections and real friendships that encouraged and helped me take advantage of new career opportunities at each step in this second career.

At an age when many people retire, I am taking on a new challenge in 2011, thanks to the SF State program that started my preparation for ever more responsible paralegal roles!

- Pam Rolph

Photo: Raymond Rollan

Raymond Rollan

Opening New Doors

My interest in the law has brought me to many unexpected and wonderful places. I graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2009 with a degree in Political Science. In order to figure out if law school was right for me, I enrolled in the SF State Paralegal Program in the summer of 2010. While my main intention was to gain knowledge in legal procedure and practice - what I received in the process was more than anything I could have ever hoped for. Through the program, I not only figured out the importance of torts and ethics, but I also made lifelong friends, met amazing professors, interned for an incredible attorney, and more importantly, gained confidence in myself as a legal professional and as a future lawyer.

Through the help of Program Director Pat Medina, I obtained an internship at the District Attorney's Office Insurance Fraud department, where I worked with attorneys and investigators in prosecuting worker's compensation and auto fraud for 7 months. I applied classroom theory to actual practice and gained first hand legal experience by creating timelines for case files, accompanying the attorneys to court and judges’ chambers, summarizing depositions, and preparing trial exhibits.

While attending the program, I was also actively involved with the San Francisco Paralegal Association (SFPA), serving as the SF State Student Representative. In this capacity, I attended Board meetings, met and talked with students regarding membership, and expressed student concerns to the Board of Directors. Through hard work and dedication, I helped in organizing the very first Student Focused Track at the Annual Paralegal Day and I was also able to help in creating the very first Student Forum Committee of the Association.

I successfully leveraged my experience at the District Attorney’s Office and the technical skills I gained from school to land a position as a Junior Intellectual Property Paralegal at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

The solid training I received at SF State’s Paralegal Program set the foundation for my success as a law student at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where I worked full-time as a paralegal while attending classes at night. While at USF, I practiced the leadership skills I developed at SF State and served as the Vice President of the Student Bar Association, as well as the President of the Pilipino American Law Society. I also had the amazing opportunity of working with two judges as well as the Oakland City Attorney’s Office.

I graduated in December of 2014 and passed the California Bar in May 2015. Currently, I work as an associate attorney at a law firm in Oakland practicing civil litigation defense.

I never expected that my decision to enroll in SF State’s Paralegal Program would lead me to where I am today and open the doors that it has. The experience has truly been life changing. I learned that anyone who is willing to open themselves up and work hard while keeping a positive attitude will get where they need to be - whether that goal is finding employment as a paralegal, gaining legal experience, or becoming an attorney.

The education and training I received while attending SF State’s Paralegal Program has truly enriched my practice as an attorney. As an attorney, I value and respect the work that our paralegals do in ensuring that cases are handled efficiently and effectively. I am extremely thankful and blessed to have been a part of such a wonderful program with top-notch professors, caring staff, and a supportive community.

Ben Harrison

Graduate Finds Immediate Employment

Esteemed SF State faculty,

After graduating from the SF State Paralegal program in December, I was astonished to find employment immediately. Since my employment was directly the result of your classes, I thought I would share with each of you what has been going on.

A plaintiff-only toxic-tort firm in Berkeley needed a paralegal to perform special duties. The previous paralegal had left the position abruptly, causing significant stress to the other paralegals and attorneys. This caused the firm to be particularly cautious during the hiring process. That combined with their already low hiring rate (due to staff staying causing little turnover), created a very intense interview process. I had three interviews plus background checks and reference checks and tests. The first test they gave me was on civil law and had 60 questions, divided evenly into basic, intermediate, and advanced sections. I was only given 15 minutes to complete it. To my dismay, I got them all correct, except for one "basic" question about municipalities.

After I was finally offered the position, my (now) boss confided in me as to why they selected me from among the roster of candidates. There was the usual stuff about personality and job fit and so on. But a huge contributing factor was my education from the SF State paralegal program. For a firm that doesn't hire much, they surprised me by saying they were already familiar with our program and regard it as the finest in the Bay Area! They looked at my coursework in detail. And I truly mean that! They didn't just look at a transcript. They wanted to see my relevant coursework syllabi (and notes). The nature of the position requires the paralegal to have a fundamental understanding of Torts and Bankruptcy. So they wanted to see what my classes taught me.

I showed them Steve Weisberg's Tort syllabus and all of my class notes (which thankfully are thorough). They liked what they saw and nodded appreciatively. In fact, the Torts midterm proved to be a real "ice-breaker" as the attorneys and paralegals argued which parties could be sued. They thought the one-page multi-party, multi-actions situation was stimulating. HAHA! It sure made me feel better, I can assure you. I also read some of his anecdotal wisdom from my notes, which delighted them. The same was true for each of his mini-scenario questions on the final exam. Mr. Weisberg is really very witty!

Apparently very few paralegals take Bankruptcy. And although the firm is a tort firm, they need a paralegal for this niche position who likes and understands bankruptcy as well as torts. They examined Vince's class syllabus and agreed that he put together a decent introductory course, covering all of the major beginning concepts. They also liked my bankruptcy binder, which is a visually appealing tool to produce during an interview (trust me!). But most of all, they really approved of Vince's work procedure. The fact that every single assignment had to meet exacting standards or be redone, impressed them. Some of my bankruptcy work had so much red ink, I think a marker bled to death on it! But they didn't frown on that. Quite the opposite, they thought that was an excellent teaching technique.

Anyway, I am very wordy and could chatter all night. I haven't seen any of you recently, so I just thought that I would share with you that I found paralegal employment immediately after graduating, and that I am doing it in the two fields which I enjoyed most during my coursework there: torts & bankruptcy. It sure is funny how things work out sometimes, huh? I still have a little more time left until I am 100% part of the team. On that day, I will get my business cards. Right now I do have my own desk and phone and email though, so that is nice. When I get my business cards, I will mail you each one (if you want).

Thank you for everything. You are first-class teachers, and your classes were thoroughly fun and enriching. It was a true privilege to study under you!

Ben Harrison
Bankruptcy Coordinator

Beth Greenberg

A Bold Move in a Poor Economy
February 7, 2011

After graduating from the SF Paralegal Studies program in spring 2010, I felt optimistic about my future in the legal profession. With a cross country move looming over my head shortly after graduation, I felt confident that my ABA-approved certificate and paralegal association memberships would not only provide me with employment opportunities, but would give me a huge upper hand on my competition.

I registered with Robert Half Legal before my move and interviewed with them my first week in Philadelphia. The recruiter was very friendly and attentive, and my paralegal studies impressed her. She was also impressed with my test scores, for which I thank the paralegal program at SF State. I was offered a temp position within days of my interview. Although I declined the offer, I was so happy to be offered a job so soon, especially in a struggling economy!

I had several interviews lined up within weeks of my relocation, one of them being a sole practitioner of a general practice. I knew that working for him could be tough, as sole practitioner offices can tend to be, but it would provide me invaluable hands on experience with the court system and its inner workings. In my interview, he had reservations about me having no experience in my new state, but the combination of my ABA-approved certificate and work experience landed me the job!

I presently work as both a paralegal and secretary for my boss. I enjoy the small office atmosphere, and I like that I am involved in all aspects of the work. My boss bills me at paralegal rates, and provides me the opportunity to interview clients, draft complex discovery, and prepare financial documents as well as other diverse duties as necessary. I work closely with both my boss and our clients to ensure a high standard of care and attention to each matter, and I enjoy the variety of work in a general practice.

I can't overstate my appreciation for the program and its dedicated teachers enough! Having my ABA-approved certificate has given me the confidence to go after what I want at work. The teachers urged us to join our local paralegal associations, and because of that I network monthly with fellow paralegals in my area. In addition, having an ABA-approved certificate has provided me with a unique opportunity from my paralegal association that will allow me to become a New Jersey certified paralegal. I will then have state-specific credentials that will make me even more marketable. The SF State Paralegal program is a stimulating and diverse program and is perfect for anyone who wishes to explore the paralegal field in any capacity and in any of our 50 states!

Celina Holmes-Murphy

Although I had roughly three years of legal experience by summer 2009-working in different capacities as a legal clerk or legal intern within various legal offices-I decided the best way to secure my future within the legal field was to pursue a paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved Paralegal Studies program. I ultimately found that completing the certificate program within nine months was the best use of my time while my husband was deployed and serving in Iraq.

SF State Extended Learning's Paralegal Studies program offers a wide variety of practice areas, which is still growing to this day. The courses and instructors were great: informative, challenging, and involved. The most surprising but rewarding aspect about this certificate program is that a good portion of the instructors have their J.D. and are not only teaching the law but practicing it as well. Legal topics, procedures, and practices became easier to digest because the instructors were aware of the evolutions in the law within their specific practice areas and industries.

I am currently employed with a prominent, international East Coast firm. Although I was not hired during the firm's typical hiring and recruiting season (the firm usually recruits in late spring/early summer by visiting college campuses in the Washington, D.C. area), nor was I aware of any vacant paralegal positions within the firm, I was invited to interview with the firm's paralegal supervisor and manager. I believe the fact that I possess a certificate from an ABA-approved Paralegal Studies program greatly impacted their hiring decision. To my knowledge, I am one out of a dozen of my paralegal co-workers (within my age range) with a paralegal certificate.

I credit a lot of my success to the SF State Extended Learning Paralegal Studies program. A BIG "Thank You" goes out to Pat and all of the wonderful instructors there!

Tina Ho

Tina Ho accepted an administrative assistant job that was sent to us from one of our graduates because she wanted to work in the Patent & Trademark field. Entry-level paralegal jobs in the field are very rare, so she chose to work closely with our graduate and learn the field in an administrative capacity to gain experience She was recently promoted to a full-time paralegal position at the same law firm.

Dear Pat,

I appreciate everything your paralegal program has done for me and many graduates coming from SF State Extended Learning. In particular, I just wanted to thank you for your unwavering guidance and encouragement in helping me land a solid job in a patent and trademark law firm. I could not have done it without you! It was a long ride and journey, but throughout it all, you were my rock. And I sincerely wanted to say that you have helped so many students in this program, including myself.

A paralegal certificate, a Bachelor's degree, plus the hard work, diligence, and perseverance, I believe will be the formula for success in the legal world, not to mention, for life, in general. I encourage all paralegal students as well as graduates, to never stop working hard for what they believe in, and to live the life that one deserves. Always believe in yourself, and towards that end, the hard work will pay off.

I can still remember the first day of paralegal orientation, you always said enrolling in this paralegal program, attaining an ABA-approved certificate will enhance one's career options and you were certainly correct. I am glad I came upon this program and that I took the time to invest in it. I thank you Pat for all of your assistance and I also wanted to take the time to thank all of my professors who have been there for me.

Sincerely,
Tina Ho

Kate & Sam Ha

Kate and Sam Ha are students from Vietnam who came to the Paralegal Program with EDD funding that required them to complete the 30-unit certificate program in one calendar year, which is three semesters.

They live in the Sacramento area and drove over 135 miles each way to attend our classes. They chose SF State because of our reputation in the legal community and ABA-approved status. They both did internships and excelled at their studies. Their success is due to their dedication and the sacrifice they made to commute such a long distance to attend class three times a week.

Hi Pat,

Sam and I wanted to share with you our experiences and how the program has impacted our life. The year went by very fast. Sam and I still can't believe that we finished in just under one year. We feel completely equipped to enter into our career path because of the training we received. All the classes and internship truly were invaluable. I know for a fact no other institution can provide as much training and impact a student's life as SF State! For this we are truly indebted to your genuine love and devotion for your students and career. Thank you, Pat! SF State could not and would not make students feel this way without the your devotion and true motivation for your students to succeed.

Our experience with meeting and getting to know you was the best gift we received from the program. Seeing you in the hall way was like seeing a celebrity! I know it sounds funny because you are very humble and mild. I took in everything that you taught me. Every conversation was ingrained into us. We knew that everything you taught us would soon be valuable. Pat, when entering into the program I wanted someone to hold my hand and tell me what I need to do in order to be successful. I thought it was asking too much, but I did not need to ask you-you simply had everything I needed through the professors and Eduardo. I have no regrets in the program, expect for one: I really wish I had more time to learn from you, Pat.

Everyone I meet, I tell them about you, your school, and the great professors.

Pat, thank you. We are indebted to you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you or the school.

Sincerely, your devoted students,
Kate and Sam Ha

Photo: Paralegal/teacher Pam Wolpa with her dog Lily

Pam Wolpa

In June 2006, I enrolled in the SF State Paralegal Studies program, optimistic that a paralegal certificate would afford me greater opportunities in a career path I fell into. I hired an attorney in 1994, we developed a great rapport and when our business relationship ended she offered me a job as her secretary. Four years later, I became her paralegal. I continued working as a paralegal for many years but felt that getting a formal paralegal education could only make me a better paralegal.

I graduated with highest honors in June 2008 with 17 classes under my belt. When I spoke at graduation I said that I hoped to have the privilege of teaching in the program someday. Well, that someday came sooner than I imagined and I began teaching Computer Applications in Law Practice in spring 2009! I have wanted to teach since I was in grammar school, and I am ecstatic that I've achieved that goal. The rewards I receive from teaching are innumerable. Not only do I get to share my knowledge and experience with our amazing students, I also get to learn from them. All of this helps to make me a better paralegal.

Computer applications is the perfect class for me to teach because of my strong interest in and aptitude for technology from the time I bought my first computer in 1984! I've always been the unofficial "go to" computer person at work and I enjoy helping people learn and understand software. The programs I use most in my paralegal work include Adobe Acrobat Professional, the Microsoft Office Suite, CaseMap, Summation, Judicial Council forms and timekeeping and calendaring software. I sincerely believe that paralegals need to master computer skills to be successful.

I have the paralegal program to thank for my current job where my experience, skills and education allow me to take on challenging and stimulating assignments. Pat Medina has a talent for matching her students with precisely the right job. When my firm contacted her looking for a paralegal candidate, Pat instinctively knew this was the ideal place for me. I am extremely grateful to Pat, her assistants Baseemah Rahman and Eduardo Cerpa, and the many teachers who helped me to become the teacher and paralegal I am today.

Taliah Hobbs

Graduate Found Job in Two Months in this Tough Economy by Accepting an Entry Level Position

Hello Pat,

I wanted to thank you for all your help with my résumé, cover letter, and insight into the profession. After finishing the program in August and leaving my position with Nordstrom, I just landed an entry level position with a firm here in San Francisco with the possibility of growth witnin the firm. I will be starting on Monday as a full time file clerk at Hersh Family Law Practice. I am very excited and thankful as I embark on my journey into my career.

Kind Regards,

Taliah Hobbs

Photo: Melanie Getting, Paralegal Graduate

Melanie Getting

The Road from Legal Secretary to Paralegal

I am a career legal employee. I have worked in a variety law firms since 1988 - almost straight out of high school. I started out as a secretary, but back then, "paralegals" were not well known, so as a secretary, I did a lot of paralegal work. Because I married my first husband shortly after graduating from high school and we began our family within a year, I never had time to continue my higher education, and I had obtained very few college credits. In 1993, my first husband died, leaving me with 2 small children (my oldest had just turned 2 and the youngest was a month shy of her 1st birthday). I got in touch with Jim Parker, an attorney I had worked with at a firm before and who had recently opened a solo practice, and I began doing paralegal work for him from home. Over the years, my professional relationship with Jim grew stronger, and in 2003, he joined forces with two other partners to become the managing partner of what is now known as Brydon Hugo & Parker in San Francisco. He brought me on board with him as his secretary

In 2005, Jim learned about the new statutory requirements for paralegals (Business and Professions Code 6450) and offered to send me through SF State's Paralegal Program to get my certificate (before that time, a certificate wasn't required in order to perform and bill out my paralegal work - all I needed was an affidavit from an attorney). He felt that I was a valuable paralegal and wanted to be able to continue to bill my time out, so he even offered to pay for it! I chose not to go back to school for the certificate when Jim made this offer because by that time I had two teenaged daughters at home, my second marriage was on the rocks, and my full-time job was providing the sole income for my family. His offer stood, though, and a year later I decided to take advantage of it. I began by taking 2 summer classes at SF State's downtown campus. After many, many discussions with Pat Medina, the director of the SF State Paralegal Program, I began attending various classes at Diablo Valley College to obtain basic college credits while concurrently attending one to two classes per semester at SF State. I also continued to work full-time and raise my daughters. Although it took 2 1/2 years and a lot of work, I finally graduated with honors from SF State's Paralegal Program at the end of 2008.

Although I already had plenty of experience and already knew what I was doing when I attended SF State's Paralegal Program, I think that, overall, the classes at SF State were very good. They reinforced what I had learned on the job. I already knew "how" to do my job but my classes helped me gain a better understanding of "why" certain things needed to be done in a specific way. SF State's classes provide a lot of hands-on and practical practice - things you actually use out here in the real world. One reason Jim chose SF State's program for me was that he knew it was ABA-approved, and he has told me that if given a choice between a paralegal candidate who graduated from SF State's ABA-approved Paralegal Program and a candidate from any other program, he would choose to hire the SF State graduate.

I currently work a dual position as both a secretary and a paralegal. As a paralegal, I am definitely an integral part of a team, and it is very rewarding. I love working in the field of law, and if I had to do it all over again, I would follow the same path.