Some of our paralegal graduates have gone on to law school. Here are some of their reflections on how the class prepared them.
During my first day of orientation in law school, formerly known as South Texas College of Law, the dean spoke to the incoming class and gave us a bit of wisdom. He said that our undergraduate education does not prepare us for the LSAT and the LSAT does not prepare us for law school. His honesty was proven true time and time again during my first year of law school.
It is without a doubt that my time in the Paralegal Program at UH directly contributed to my academic success. In my opinion, there is no other course that will better prepare someone considering law school in such a short period of time. You are not being prepared for a single test, but for a career in the legal field. This instruction brings with it an introduction to concepts and research methods that many going into law school having never been exposed to until they face an intimidating assignment. In my 1L year of law school, I received A’s for both of my final papers in my Legal Research & Writing courses completed in my first and second semesters. After my second semester, I was awarded the Cali Award for having the highest grade in my LRW class, and I got A’s in four of my five classes. I definitely give credit to the paralegal program at UH for my achievements. By exposing me to online research tools, like Westlaw and Lexis, I had a foundation to build on before the majority of my classmates even knew what those systems were. I am still using that mental scaffolding built during my time in the program to build on top of concepts discussed regarding torts, civil procedure, criminal law, and property law.
My favorite question to answer is when one of my classmates overhears me explain something we haven’t discussed in class yet and ask me, “How do you know that?” I enjoy telling them I learned that in the Paralegal Program at UH.
– Jaime Perez
Paralegal Class Valedictorian, June 2014 & JD Candidate, Class of 2018
I attended a seminar on transitioning to law school at South Texas today. It was supposed to help us “get a leg up” in law school by having professors teach mini classes. I’ m really excited for law school and I wanted to thank you for everything you taught me. It really stuck. They didn’t go over anything today that you hadn’t already taught me 2 years ago. They tried scaring us, but honestly, they have nothing on you. I don’t think I’m half as scared as I was after your first class.
One of the professors started with a slide, with “stare decisis” in big, bold, letters. As soon as I saw it, I heard your voice in my head saying, “It’s latin for to stand by the decision and it means the reluctance of a court to ignore precedence”.
Then the professor told us that if he could get away with it, he’d take us all to Westheimer and “stare decisis” tattooed on us. (I thought you might find that funny, considering you told us you would name your next child “stare decisis”.)
Also, I wanted to thank you for writing my letter of recommendation. I’m positive that it’s a big part of the reason I got accepted.
I was sitting at work one day wondering what I could do to help me decide whether or not I was the right kind of person who could make it in law school. I had taken the LSAT a year earlier and just not sure if law was right for me. I started searching on the internet for any type of program or seminar that would help me figure out what I wanted or needed to do. During my search I came across many websites for paralegal programs. I had not considered or even thought of a paralegal program. So this really got me thinking. Maybe law school was not for me and being a paralegal was. I had worked in a law firm previously doing some paralegal work and really enjoyed it. I looked into all the programs around Houston and decided that the University of Houston program was the best one. I was in the weekend class and I knew it was going to be a lot of work since I was also working full time. After the first few weeks of class I was exhausted. I was putting in an average of 10 hours a week on the homework and studying for the tests. It was not until half way through that I realized I was putting in so many hours because I was really enjoying it. I found the material very interesting and loved the guest speakers. Several of them really made me want to be in their shoes.
A few weeks before the class was ending I received a letter in the mail from South Texas College of Law. They had accepted me and I was to start in January. This had taken me by surprise since I was so focused on the paralegal class. But by this time I knew I could make it in law school. If I could make it through Jac’s class I thought I could make it through anything. Even though I knew I would be starting law school in January, I finished the paralegal class because at this point I knew all the information I was learning would only help build a solid foundation to help me survive.
Now that my first semester of law school is over I can honestly say everything I learned in the paralegal class I have used. I have even been able to use this information to answer the questions from the professors (and they were really impressed I knew the answer). I will not lie and say that law school is easy but by having the foundation from the paralegal program I feel I was able to stay above water and be successful. So for anyone interested or even thinking about law school, the paralegal program is a great way to help with your decisions.
Fall 2007 Graduate
I absolutely cannot believe that it’s been a year and a half since I enrolled in Jac’s paralegal class. Nearly everything about my life has changed since then, and, most notably, I began attending law school part-time at U of H. When I signed up for Jac’s class, I really wasn’t planning to use the program as a stepping stone to law school. All I knew was I had an intense desire to change careers, but I didn’t have time to go back to college to get another degree. Earning a paralegal certificate was definitely the best possible choice for me because it not only allowed me to increase my income by changing careers, but it also piqued my interest in the law enough to convince me attend go to law school. After I earned my paralegal certificate and began working as a contracts administrator in the legal department of a corporation, I was able to see what lawyers do on a day-to-day basis, and I liked what I saw so I decided to attend the law school at UH. As an added advantage, the lawyers I work with have been liberal in giving advice and helping me avoid the pitfalls many first year students make. I also firmly believe that, had I not changed careers, I would not have the extra time and money I need to allow me to attend school part time. When I look back at the past year and a half, I am convinced that I would not have taken the steps necessary to become a lawyer had I not stumbled upon the UH Paralegal program.
I discovered another great advantage to the paralegal program when I began attending school. In the program, I was able to get a brief overview of many different areas of law and the major first year classes. Now that I have some idea about how our court system works, how to draft documents, common motions made in court, rules of evidence, and much, much more, I feel I have an advantage in my classes. I think the most helpful aspect of the program is Mock Trial, in which I was able to get an up-close look at the mechanics of some of the abstract things I’m learning about in law school today. I now have a mental framework for many of the topics I study in school, and that allows me to retain the information I study more easily than I would otherwise. Also, the experience I gained in the internship Jac arranged for me after I completed the program and in my subsequent work experience has also helped me immensely, so the benefits definitely didn’t stop as soon as I’d earned my paralegal certificate.
I am so grateful that I found the UH Paralegal Program, and I honestly think my life would be very different if I hadn’t chosen to attend. I would strongly recommend the program for anyone looking to either make a career change into an interesting and challenging field or toying with the idea of law school.
Summer 2007 Graduate
I just wanted to wish you all the best for the new year, and also share with you that I started law school this past August at Texas Southern University. The first semester of law school was just as challenging as I thought it would be. During the first couple of months, I often thought of how impossible and overwhelming the workload felt. Now that the first semester is over, it all seems quite manageable. I am grateful that I had the experience as a paralegal prior to entering law school. Thank you for preparing me for the legal profession and for the challenges of law school. The icing on the cake this semester was earning the highest grade in my Legal Research and Writing class, and receiving the Am. Jur. Award. I am doing very well in the rest of my classes, and look forward to finishing strong. I still apply what I learned from your class to my life, and I still hear your voice in my head every now and then, especially when taking exams. Except now “Follow the instructions!” has been replaced with “Answer the call of the question!” Thank you for your recommendation letter, I could not have had such a successful first semester without your help.
Fall 2007 Graduate