Jac’s Teaching Style – and Survival Tips From Graduates

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What Jac has to say: 

Paralegal students are in class for a very short amount of time (although I’m sure it doesn’t seem that way to them). Still, in that roughly 144 hours, I must instill in them the skills, knowledge, resources, and thought-processes they need to become smart, essential, indispensable paralegals.

Paralegals must know how to figure out the pet peeves of their attorneys and avoid those. Paralegals must know what’s going on in the world around them. Paralegals need a basic understanding of how the government works, how laws are made, how to cite laws, how to read cases, and how the court system works. Paralegals must know the difference between the state and federal systems, courts, and laws. Paralegals must know how to draft documents, how to interview clients, how to draft legal memos, how to brief cases, and how to perform electronic research — both legal and general. Paralegals must understand procedural law, and have broad stroke knowledge of some common areas of law, such as contracts, torts, wills, powers of attorney, real estate, criminal, disability, employment, juvenile, criminal, appellate, tax, immigration, business organizations, social security, products liability, family, consumer, and elder law. Above all, paralegals must know their ethical and professional responsibilities and the ethical lines they must not cross, particularly relative to the unauthorized practice of law. Students learn all of this — and much more — in this program.

This program is skills focused. This is not a class in which you just simply take notes and memorize things. This class requires you to do things as you learn paralegal skills. You will interview clients, prepare for trial, participate in a mock arbitration and a mock trial, prepare briefs, analyze cases, prepare legal memos, look up law, cite cases, draft pleadings, propound and answer discovery, including e-discovery, learn how to draft wills, business letters, powers of attorney, incorporation paperwork, and motions, learn to use O’Connor’s, learn to use document production software. I could go on about the skills you will learn, but I guess I’ve gotten a little off the subject of my teaching style. I make use of the Socratic method of teaching when feasible. This is involves my asking questions, rather than providing answers. I do not give a great deal of detailed information because figuring things out for yourself, or through collaboration with others, is part of what you will do as a paralegal – so it is part of what you will do in class.

I encourage questions — not just during class, but in between classes. I will not always just give you an answer, though. Sometimes, I will talk you through the analysis to find the answer on your own. That’s an important part of learning to think like a paralegal.

Paralegals must be well-organized and very detail oriented. To that end, I am a very, let’s say, particular. The students who write on this page will probably use less flattering words, but I’m writing this part so we’ll go with particular. I’m a lawyer and I know what jerks we can be. Paralegals need to understand the pressures of lawyering and how that translates for paralegals. This class discusses that and students experience exactly how particular lawyers can be.

There is a method to my teaching madness. There is a specific reason for every single thing I do in class. Every assignment has at least two levels in terms of what students must learn. Most have more levels. You’ll understand that more as you get into the work of the class. I’ve come to realize that I don’t really teach so much as I create conditions that foster learning. You have to have an affirmative desire to actively learn to really “get it” in this course.

This is a challenging course and, because the challenge is great, the sense of accomplishment at the end is nothing short of complete.

Take the leap — and build your paralegal wings on the way down. You’ll soon be a high-flying paralegal!

What former students have to say:

The simplest tips I can give are to pay attention and follow instructions. Honestly, that is the secret to passing the class. The secret to doing well in the class is to understand why you are doing something. How will it help your career or increase your knowledge? Jac does not give busy work. The work will keep you busy, but that is not the intended function. Ask questions, but before you ask, make sure the answer has not already been given. Learn Jac’s pet peeves, she will tell you what they are, and if you forget, she will remind you with increasing volume with each reminder. Thinking of this class not as a class, but as a job is the best way to go, in my opinion. No skipping, do not be late, turn in assignments like it is to an employer, and take it seriously. This is not a show up late and hope for the best kind of a class. This next tip you will read on almost every, if not all tips: go to mid-week. There is a reason you keep seeing it written down. On that note, if you see something in the tips multiple times, then that is extremely important — so much so that multiple students have taken the time to write it down.

Bayard Nicklow

Summer 2018


First and foremost, I make no guarantees on if any of these will actually work for anyone other than me.  As I have often been told, I am a unique individual with bizarre habits.  And that’s when people are putting it gently.  Anyway, here’s my list of things which enabled me to achieve an A in Jac’s class.
1. Homework.  Homework is the most important aspect of the work you will be doing in Jac’s class.  According to my notes, it accounts for three-quarters of the grade (The other quarter being test grades, which we’ll get to momentarily.).  I’m no math expert, but it looks as though, if you got all hundreds on the homework, you could not answer a single question on the tests and still pass.  This is intentional, as there are reasons for everything Jac does.  But these are tips, not explanations, so here are a few tips on homework.
a. Start early.  At the latest, start the homework on Sunday evening (after sending thank you e-mails to guest speakers, which, again, momentarily.).  Generally, Jac will post the new set of homework on the website on Friday, which is the perfect time to knock out an assignment or two during breaks from studying the materials for the Saturday test.
b. Finish early.  Have all the homework done a day before midweek.  That way you have time to go back and review your answers the next day, before printing out a version that Jac will see.  There were times when I would be doing my homework and thinking I had just found the most brilliant answer to a question, only to find out the next day that I had written gibberish.  Be prepared to amend those mistakes.
c. Go to midweeks.  It is so much better to find out just how wrong you are on things in the middle of the week when you are not being graded than when you turn in the homework on Saturday.  And you will find out that you are wrong.  Go into midweek expecting to have to redo entire assignments afterwards.  That way, when you get one of those highly coveted smiley faces, it will be so unexpected you will slam your hands on the table and go, “Woo!”  (This happened.)
d. Make changes the night after midweek.  The information will still be fresh in your head and it’s a lot easier to edit at that point.  You’ll also find that assignments are a lot easier to do the second time and not as time consuming.
2.  Tests. Tests are the other quarter of your grade.  They are all basic fill in the blank questions.  Easy, right?  Wrong.  Here’s how to effectively pass the tests.
a. Take notes.  Notes are very important.  Yes, the powerpoints have lots of information on them, but they will not say, “This is Jac’s favorite slide.  You should know this.”  Or, “This would be a good test question.”  If you ever hear Jac say anything similar to these words, make note of what she’s talking about because, shock of all shocks, it will be on a test.
b. Create a study system.  Whether it’s old fashioned note-cards or a more digital version, find ways to review the information in an effective manner.  Use that system whenever you have down time.  Yes, you will be “that guy” who is looking at note-cards in the grocery store, but you were just going to be using that time to surf Facebook on your phone anyway, so why not be productive?
c. Review, review, review.  This ties in with the above, in that you may think you have spent enough time studying, but you haven’t.  Always keep reviewing the information.
3. Social.  We’ve covered the graded part of the class, so why am I still typing?  Because the class doesn’t end with just grades.  This class is unique in that it provides you with an extraordinary opportunity to mutually suffer with twenty-four (and less) students.  Someone other than me put it best when they said, “No one else will understand what you are going through.”  And this is true.  You can explain all about the hard work that you’re putting into the class to those outside, but no explanation is necessary for those in the class.  Your peers will provide a support system which will almost definitely be needed in order to survive.  So here are some tips from someone with social anxiety about how to be social.
a. Start rivalries.  Nothing gets people working together faster than some old-fashioned competition.  From day one, Jac will divide the class into groups.  Take this moment to cheer on your group.  Make hefty proclamations, such as, “The red group could take on the other three groups all at one time.”  The same with mock trial teams and the board.  A little trash talk goes a long way towards reminding people that this class can be fun.
b. Don’t be afraid to laugh.  Yes, this class is stressful and grueling.  But it can also be an incredible source for amusement.  Jac will make jokes.  Laugh at these jokes.  They are hilarious.
c. Don’t be afraid to joke.  This ties in with the above.  If you have something flash across your mind that you think is hilarious, share it with those around you.  You’d be surprised how many other people might have had that same thought.
d. Help out those around you.  They’ll help you in return.  When you help others, you can’t help helping yourself.
4. Bonus.  Jac gives bonus questions on tests.  Sometimes these are current events.  Know the current events.  Sometimes these are just things you should know.  Know these things.  Jac will also give you a list of things you can do for extra credit.  Start on this list early.  Do not try to do all of these things in the last week.  You will end up ranked one spot below where you wanted to be and learn that if you had just done one more extra credit assignment, you could have been above that person.  (No, I’m not bitter about that at all.)
I do hope this list helps someone survive.  And, as the (un)official heart of Class 41, I’ll just say, “Go plaintiffs!  Go red team!”
Adam Roch
Weekend Fall 2014
  1. Before you sign up, make sure you’re going to devote those nine weeks to class.
  2. Make sure you have the moral support & encouragement from family members, co-workers, and friends – you will need it!
  3. Make friends. After all, your classmates are the only ones that know what you’re really going through. Support each other!
  4. Go to midweek! (Jac will tell you it’s not mandatory, but YOU MUST GO!) It’s your opportunity to see what you’re doing wrong and correct it.
  5. Figure out what’s your best studying method, whether it’s flashcards, Quizlet, or power points & notes.
  6. Prioritize your time.
  7. Start your homework on Sunday evenings and have it ready by midweek, correct your homework Wednesday evening after midweek (it’ll be fresh in your mind), and save Thursdays and Fridays to study for your tests.
  8. Listen & follow instructions. Also READ the instructions on every assignment and test.

9.If Jac tells you there are two test questions from this PowerPoint slide, it’s because there will be two questions from said slide.

  1. Trevor Noah will be your best friend, so watch The Daily Show.
  2. Follow current events, local news.
  3. Do the extra credit, because every point counts!
  4. Ask questions. Jac will always be there to help. Make sure she didn’t already give you the answer prior to asking. She doesn’t like to repeat herself.
  5. Learn Jac’s pet peeves. She will let you know what they are.
  6. Did I mention to go to midweek?!?
  7. Don’t give up.
  8. Enjoy the class, because, when it’s over, you will certainly miss it!

Elvira Flores, Summer 2018




Anything Jac says more than once write it down. If you ever hear her say “This is my favorite slide” it will be on the test.

Put yourself on a schedule. Start your homework on Sunday’s. Have all your homework complete before Midweek. Make all changes to your homework right after midweek. Take the rest of the week to study for your test.

Always be on time for class. Always read the directions to everything.

Don’t be afraid of Jac, even though she is scary.

Keep up with current events.


Don’t make excuses.

Send all your Thank you emails.



Take advantage of your opportunity to use the best source you have Jac Brennan. Jac is always right!! Everything she does is for a reason. You may not understand it now but you will once you graduate. If Jac invites you somewhere GO. Jac for President 2020!

Reneé Ozenne

Fall 2016


So you want to be a paralegal? Seems easy enough, but first, you must survive Jac’s class. Jac runs her classroom like a well-oiled machine. She knows exactly what she’s doing, and exactly why she’s doing it. With this being said, keep this in mind. Remember this fact when she is grading you, when she is correcting you. When Jac says she doesn’t like something and she will count off for it, she means it. If you want to pass, pay attention to her reasoning.  Jac knows exactly what paralegals need to survive in the real world.

Jac grades pretty harshly, but she gives you plenty of opportunity to make an A. If an opportunity is given to correct your work for a better grade, take it. If an opportunity is given for extra credit, take it. If Jac tells you to study something, do it. You can’t cash excuses at the bank. If you don’t take advantage of the opportunities in her classroom, then it’s probable that you will refuse to acknowledge those same opportunities in the real world. The paralegal certificate class is preparation for the real world. Are you willing to go the extra mile? Are you willing to exhaust yourself to make your boss more organized and happy? Attorneys need all-star paralegals to save their asses. All-star paralegals get their reputation by busting their butts day in and day out.  Do you have motivation when no one is watching? Motivation is what separates the paralegal from the all-star paralegal.

The workload in this course will be extremely heavy. You will have to prioritize your life and get it all done. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just get it done. Aside from the usual work, study Jac. Study what makes her mad, what makes her happy, what makes her laugh and pay attention to all the possible cues you can think of doing. Make lists of what Jac thinks you should know. Learn those things. Extra credit pays off big time. You should consistently review all tests that you take, and keep it all fresh in your head. You will thank yourself later. Flashcards will be your best friend, so embrace them.  Embrace the competition, but remember that some of your classmates will be your friends for life.  Join the associations available through this class. The more networking you do, the better and easier your life will be.

This class can be a very strong point on your resume, so make it count. Jac is an incredible mentor, and she will help you to grow professionally, but you have to be receptive. This class will help you prepare for many real life situations, but you have to understand the motive behind the torture. The torture you will endure could arise in any average work day at a law firm. When Jac is being difficult or unreasonable, just remember that you will one day have a boss who signs your paycheck and requires even more ridiculous standards. Smile through it all and know that when you finish, you will be all the better for it.

Kristin Hummel


The following survival tips are necessary in order to make it out alive from Jac’s class:

1. Once enrolled, cancel every single event that is in your personal planner. This includes parties, family gatherings, birthdays, date nights, out with friends events, etc. Your time is very precious.
2. While in class, make as many friends as possible. Your classmates are literally the only people that is going to understand what you are going through during for those weeks.
3. Think before you speak & have common sense.
4. Pay attention to every single thing.
5. Stay current with politics & news. Know what is going on in the world around you.
6. Midweek is a must!
7. Take a lot of notes.
8. Spell definitely right.
9. Get to know Jac. Know what she likes, what she hates, and what is meaningful to her.
10.Do not be afraid to try different study techniques. For example: making flashcards, outline and rewrite your notes, speaking out loud instead of simply reading, or study groups. Anything to help your brain remember information quicker and easier.
11. Do not get discouraged over a bad grade or any verbal abuse that you may come across.
12. Do not miss class.
13. Do all of your extra credit.
14. Be organized.
15. Listen carefully and follow instructions.
16. Don’t ever question Jac.
17. Stay positive.
18. Believe in yourself.
19.This course is not a walk in the park, it is a long marathon in the middle of a hot dessert. It is not a piece of cake, it is the whole freaking bakery.
20. Don’t you dare give up!
Aremis Balderas 
Fall 2017 



Create a routine and stick to it.

Don’t make excuses.

When you think what you’ve done is enough, do more.

Write down the directions. Write down the directions even if you think you know.

Read the directions. Read the directions even if you think you know.

Have a good attitude. Remind yourself the class is only nine weeks long.

Taking this class can be incredibly rewarding. Work for it.

Jeanne Casagrande

Fall 2017


Go to midweek! Take advantage of Jac’s willingness to help. Turn in all of your homework and do not miss a single class. Flash cards are a great study tool, but do not cram for a test the night before, trust me. Try to study for tests earlier in the week while prioritizing homework.  I would wake up early on test days to study and would go to bed at a somewhat decent hour the night before. Make friends and form study groups. Listen to NPR for information about what is going on in the world around you. Pay attention to what Jac is saying in class to pick up on what is going to be on a test. This class is difficult, but putting in the hard work makes it amazingly worth it in the end. BEST OF LUCK TO YOU 🙂
Sara Hickey
Weekend Spring 2015

Try to work ahead early in the term when the assignments are easy. This will make it easier to keep upwhen the work load gets heavier, and it will get heavier.Staying slightly ahead on homework also makes it easier to take advantage of midweek help.

Check the website often and read the instructions carefully. Take notes or a screenshot, if needed. Jac is

very efficient at updating the homework listings. If you don’t pay attention you’ll miss something.

Don’t make excuses. Jac’s heard most of them before and they won’t help you. “I’m sorry” and “Thank

you” are appropriate responses when something goes wrong or causes comment. All corrections and

critiques are intended to help you be a better student, a better person and a better paralegal.

Jac never mentions a dress code, but I would suggest giving some thought to your appearance. It’s not

that you have to come ready for an interview every day, but making a little effort gives you confidence.

Besides, you’re going to be meeting legal professionals almost every class, and I suspect they notice

more than you think.

Holly Baker
Fall Weekday 2014

Survival Tips:

1. Decorate your Name tag! Back up your flash drive to your computer!

2. Pay Attention to EVERYTHING!

3. ANYTHING Jac says is important.

4. Leave your pride at the door, you will be wrong a lot. Learn to take constructive

criticism. Jac is helping you become a professional.

5. Always send thank you emails to the guest speakers, and spell their name right! Jac

knows who sends them and sees your email. So do not think you can get away with not

sending any.

6. Learn your classmates’ names.

7. Exchange numbers and emails, you will need each other.

8. Learn who runs your country, and stay current with politics.

9. Watch The Daily Show.

10. Do extra Credit.

11. Do not save Field Work for last. Get it out of the way early. When your brain is fried and

you think you need a break, that’s the best to time to watch a documentary. Grab some

popcorn, a glass of wine (you’ll need it), and have some good ole Netflix relaxation time.

Don’t feel guilty because technically, you are “Doing Homework”.

12. Email Jac whenever you are stuck or need help, she is the best resource. There is not a

single question too dumb. I am sure we all asked your question at one point.

13. Keep records of the bonus questions!

14. Keep all your test!

15. Do ProDoc assignments and/or any assignment that seems short or not as hard on

Saturday nights and Sunday nights.

16. Get to class at least 30 mins early to study!

17. Do not be late & do not be absent. Bring tissues and hand sanitizer if you have to. Class

is important every single day.

18. Always! Always! Always! GO TO MIDWEEK!! You NEED it.

19. Try to have all your homework done by midweek, if you don’t, take what you have. Take

notes at midweek. Listen to what she tells everyone, not just what she tells you.

20. The best feeling in the world is getting a smiley face at midweek.

21. Make all corrections once you get home from midweek while everything Jac said is still

fresh on your mind. You will not regret that decision. Once you finish corrections, all you

have left to do is study. STUDY! STUDY! STUDY!

22. Make friends! Go to lunch together.

23. Do not stress about Mock Trial.

24. Be nice to each other!

25. Know Jac’s pet peeves!

26. Never give up!

Ashleigh Alvarado

Fall 2015

Survival Tips, in no particular order.
2. Listen to every word Jac says. Words are important, but Jac’s words are vitally important.

3. Study the power points. Word for word. Don’t just get the gist of it, be able to write it down exactly as it appears on the power point.

4. Visit uhparalegal.com often.

5. Read the directions, take everything at face value.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask Jac questions and ask your classmates questions.

7. Help your classmates when they have questions.

8. Be nice to Jac and be nice to your classmates. Kindness will get you everywhere.

9. Don’t take Jac’s criticism personally. Get over yourself, own your mistakes and be open to making changes. Spending countless hours on an assignment doesn’t make it a masterpiece.

10. At least once, you will think you can’t handle this class. You will be wrong.

11. Jac wants you to succeed. You might not think so now, but she will be your biggest cheerleader. Wait until after you graduate to refer to Jac as a cheerleader.

12. Don’t miss class, it is very difficult to catch-up.

13. Don’t bother with excuses. We’re all sorry you may be dealing with this or that and we hope it all works out, but everyone has stuff they’re going through, it won’t get you out of an assignment.

14. Trader Joe’s has great vegan cookies. Jac’s a vegan. Bring her treats.

15. Send a thank you email to ALL of the guest speakers. Not only is is it part of your grade, but it’s just good manners.
16. Your classmates are important. Get to know them. Hang out and support each other. No one else will understand the gauntlet that is the UH Paralegal Program.
17. It’s all worth it in the end. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.
Nicole Tinsman
Spring 2013

1.  Finish all of your homework before worrying about completing the reading assignments.  This doesn’t mean don’t read, by all means it will undoubtedly help you exponentially.  However, if you find yourself pressed for time, save reading the entire assignments until after the homework is completed.  Only use the books as necessary until the homework is ready for midweek.  Then, and only then, finish reading the material to solidify it in your memory.

2.  Flashcards are a great memory tool.  After some experimenting they became my most efficient method for memorizing class material.  For a practical timesaver in making these, I recommend the following: printout the PowerPoint slides, 6 per page, and cut them up into individual “cards.”  Take a black marker and mark out the key terms (those that predictably look like good fill-in-the-blank candidates) on the front side and write them on the reverse side.  The same goes for dates, and anything else that looks important.  This will save long stretches of time spent writing out flashcard after flashcard ad nauseum.

3.  After making those flashcards, keep them with you everywhere.  Every time you have to wait on someone or something else, do as many flashcards as you comfortably can.   If you’re not able to leave or do anything particularly more fun, you might as well get some use out of those moments.  I did them at stoplights, while I was put on hold on the phone, while waiting to meet people, etc.  There are so many of these little bits of time scattered throughout the day, that if you spend these moments reviewing, you’ll have more time to relax later.

4.  Do your homework at a specific time each day.  Having a regular time set aside for homework makes it easier to get yourself “in the zone,” so to speak.  In addition, since you know exactly what time you will be stopping, as soon as that time arrives, you’re free for the day.  For example, I happen to be more of a morning person, and I often worked on my homework from 5-7 a.m. without breaks, and then more later that evening if and when necessary for touch-ups.  This requires self-discipline of course, but the benefit of stress reduction makes this invaluable.

5.  If at all possible, work somewhere where not only are you completely alone, but the room is silent (i.e no music, no television, no internet, etc.).  I used to be a big believer in the idea that studying was easier and more enjoyable if I had a soundtrack keeping my mood elevated throughout those inevitable rough patches. But honestly, after doing away with these, my attention was infinitely more focused. I could finish more work in one hour in this manner, than I use to spend three to fours hours doing in university.  It may take some getting used to, but in the end, the time this frees up is well worth it.

6.  If you find yourself particularly stuck on one assignment, put it aside and move on to the next.  Don’t drag yourself slowly through it trying to finish.  Instead, move on to a fresh one. This not only keeps you from getting too frustrated during those parts you may not understand, but it keeps your mind more awake to get more done.  Plus, after you return to those assignments that gave you trouble previously, for some reason, they’re always a bit easier the second time around.

7.  Attend midweeks.  These are indispensable for discovering what’s expected of your work.  I’m absolutely certain I would not have received the grades I did if I had not attended midweeks.  For those assignments you don’t get to or don’t complete before midweek, pay attention to Jac’s criticism of your classmates’ work, make notes, and don’t repeat them in your own work.  If you can attend midweeks with the bulk of your work (if not all) already completed and pay careful attention to her criticisms, I don’t believe you can fail to get high grades.

8.  Don’t try to be fancy with your language in your homework and on tests – simply repeat word for word the definitions just as they are given to you.  From personal experience, even if a word may seem like a decent synonym, it’s still incorrect.  Those precise definitions were given for a reason, don’t botch them on purpose.

9.  Never argue about why you got something wrong unless you’re sincerely trying to understand a concept.   Just immediately accept your error and vow not to repeat it.  This saves time and you will not later be repeating your previous mistakes in your head, only the correct information.  This consequently seems to allow for easier recall – the correct answer doesn’t have to compete in your mind with other “possible” or “close” (i.e. incorrect) answers.

Phillip Lehmann

     Summer 2011 


1. Study for the tests. Even though it is only 25% of your grade, testing weekly is done for a reason. The purpose is so you actually study and keep up with the material instead of last minute cramming! It makes midterms/finals a breeze because you already know it, instead of last minute cramming.

2. Of course, midweek! Jac is very particular about how she wants things. She does give instructions, but most of the time doesn’t give examples of the work she wants (Like an example of a legal memo, etc.). This is invaluable time to find out what she wants, and to fix it. I’d probably have a C instead of an A if I hadn’t taken advantage of this.

3. If Jac says to learn something, learn it. It will probably pop up several times.

4. Don’t get discouraged if you fail your first test, or aren’t doing well at the beginning. There are lots of opportunities to bring your grade up, and it says something about you if you stick it through.

5. Prioritize your time. Homework first, study for tests second, keep up with all materials. Stay organized. A messy environment usually = a messy mind.

6. Don’t get on her nerves!! lol. Show up on time, avoid the pet peeves, do well and keep your head down. You don’t want to get on her radar for obnoxious student of the semester award. 😉

7. Don’t get discouraged by the borderline verbal abuse when you mess up. She just wants you to be the best you can be, and to act like the intelligent, educated, and professional individual you are! Don’t take criticism personally.

8. Get phone numbers the first day, even if you are super shy with anxiety issues (like myself). There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Hey, is it ok if I get your phone number? Just in case one of us has any questions.” Make sure to do this with at least 3 people. You never know who will be an asset, and who may end up a slacker or drop. It makes it easier if you have someone you can text with a question about what’s on the test or other things.

9. Write your thank you notes to the guest speakers. You never know when they may pop up into your life, and you want to leave a good impression. The law field is small as a whole.

10. Have fun. =O)

Ashley Nguyen

Fall Weekday 2014 Class


 If you are competitive, pay attention to the board.  It will help you grow.
 For the free gratis of the class, pay attention to Comedy Central, your Government , as well as local Government.
 Pay attention to the inflection of Jac’s voice when going over the PP’s.  She will give you the test!
 Don’t miss Midweek!
 If Jac invites you, GO.
Zephia Riess
Fall Weekend 2014 Class
1. MAKE FRIENDS. The people that are sitting all around you are the only ones who can understand your struggle during this time.
2. GO TO MIDWEEK!!!!!!!!!!! You have heard it over and over again. Go see what its all about. It will change your life/grade.
3. STAY  ORGANIZED! Get a planner/agenda. Write down everything Jac says about HW (even though its online) write day which days what test is on what day. Plan your HW for the week. Spread it out…. DON’T CRAM.
4. Make sure you watch the news and current events going on around you/the nation.
5. Check your email. Daily. Hourly. A lot of important information gets passed along via email.
6. HAVE FUN. Make the best out this learning opportunity, it is a class you will NEVER forget!!
Ashlee Hendrex
Fall 2014 Weekend Class

Survival tips

1. Go to midweek.

2. Learn Jac’s pet peeves.

3. Take good notes.

4. Reach out to classmates.

Blanca Orellana

Weekend Spring 2015


1.     Go to Midweek – this is a life saver and will help you achieve a much higher grade.

2.     Do not miss class – missing one day will hurt you.

3.     Ask questions – even if it is a dumb question, ask it!

4.     Make friends – get to know your classmates and develop relationships with as many of them as you can.  They are all going through the same thing you are.

5.     Do ALL of your homework – do NOT turn in your homework folder with something missing.  It is careless and will dramatically affect your grade.

6.     Study the PowerPoint presentations – take notes and highlight the printed versions.  This is where test questions come from.

7.     Check spelling on EVERYTHING you turn in – if you question the spelling of something, check it!

8.     Do not give up – it is going to be hard, but push through and it will all be worth it in the end.

9.     Be organized – keep track of PowerPoint presentations, tests and notes.  It makes studying so much easier!

10. Do not do any of Jac’s pet peeves – and if you decide to do any of them, be ready for JAC!

11. Turn your cell phone off or leave it in the car – Jac is not kidding when she says she will ask you to leave.

12. Stay focused, but have fun! – this class really is amazing and Jac is a wonderful teacher.  She cares about everyone in her class and wants everyone to succeed.

Ashley Winter

Summer 2011 


GO TO MID-WEEK!!  This is so IMPORTANT because homework is a large part of your grade.  Present whatever you have to Jac.  You will either leave knowing what you need to correct or you will leave with a smiley face.  If you leave with a smiley face that is one less thing you need to have done for the next class.  Be prepared, Jac will tell you if you are wrong or if you need to add more.  Take notes and LISTEN TO WHAT SHE SAYS.

Treat this class like it is your job and Jac is your boss.  DO WHAT SHE TELLS YOU AND DO IT PROFESSIONALLY.  This is not like a college class.  Jac cares if you come to class, do the homework, and pass the tests.

Do the work.  All of it. That means extra credit and anything that will help your grade.  Plus, it proves your work ethic.

As soon as you are able, make flash cards (if that works for you), send out the thank you note for the guest speaker, and make your homework corrections.   Start on the homework for MID-WEEK.  Stay focused.

Jac is approachable.  If you do not understand what needs to be done AFTER you have read the instructions more than once, looked at your notes, and thought about it, email her.  If you word the question to be answered yes or no, that is what you are going to get.  Don’t waste her time and expect her to give you the answer.  It’s not going to happen.  Take what you have to MID-WEEK.

Type up the test questions from that day.  If you keep an up-to-date document, this will help you with the mid-term and the final.  There will not be anything on the tests that is not said or shown in class.  Share it with your classmates.

Whoever is willing, enter the power points from class into the BrainScape app and forward the link to your classmates.  If you are the person doing this, please know that you are committed for the next 12 weeks.  This is a phenomenal study guide.

If you are working out now, DO NOT STOP.  It will be a good break and you will need the endurance.  Plus you can think about what needs to be done and how to do it while you are walking, running, biking, whatever gets the blood flowing.

Eat plenty of protein (brain food) and drink plenty of fluids.  You may find you are drinking a lot of coffee.  Don’t forget the water.   Have a good breakfast.  If you get to class early have a healthy snack before the test.  Nuts, dried fruit, something not in the vending machine.

Get to class early.  You can visit, get a cup of coffee and a bagel, study, and hear what current events you may have missed.

Give yourself plenty of time to get to class.  It is your responsibility to check the traffic and keep an eye on the weather.   Seriously.

DO NOT MISS CLASS.  You will have a time trying to catch up.  Life can take priority so if you have to miss,  make sure you have been GOING TO MIDWEEK.

Come to class prepared.  Books. Never forget your books. Power points, paper, pens, pencils, highlighters, post its, however you roll.  My pen has run out of ink twice during a test and I only had to grab the other pen on my desk.

Think before you speak.  Especially when you ask a guest speaker a question.  It’s really a good idea to ask a question.

Know your current events.  Locally, nationally, and globally.

Know and be able to identify your state authorities.

Know and be able to identify your national authorities.

Know and be able to identify the Supreme Court Justices.

Try to maintain your place on The Board or at least be on it every class.  This is a FUN competition and is an incredible motivator.  Plus it gives you an opportunity to encourage your classmates.  Don’t be a jerk.

You will get to know your classmates well the next few weeks.  Respect their privacy.  Encourage them.  Make them laugh.  Work as a team.  Be productive.  Don’t be “that guy.”

Talk to your family and friends and make sure they completely understand the attention you will have to give this class.  It will be an adjustment but it’s only for a short time.  Ask them to help you stay on track to manage your time.  You can make it up to them at your graduation party.

Be respectful to Jac.  Manners go a long way and words are important.

Shawn Heth

Spring 2013












Robert Aikin

Spring 2012 Graduate 


MIDWEEK! Go to midweek every week. It will help you more than you could imagine. DEFINITELY! Learn how to spell it, correctly! If something on the PowerPoint is in large font, or bolded, or if Jac repeats herself, you may want to highlight, write it down, maybe tattoo it to your arm.  Make friends. The people in your class are your lifeline and will become the only people that will understand your struggle. Above all enjoy the experience. Jac will give you all that you need to be a paralegal and more. This class was the most challenging and wonderful experience and I’m so glad I did it. Oh yeah, and GO TO MIDWEEK.

Jackie Wagner

Fall 2014 Weekend Class


At some point, most of you will all find yourselves sitting around a large wooden table in the dining room of Jac’s cozy house for your first midweek session. You will be staring at the top of her head while she feverishly scribbles all over your once clean copy of the week’s homework. You will sit nervously and wait for the madness to stop. When she finally looks up, your paper will most likely be covered in red ink and there will be one single, indiscriminate word scrawled over and over again on your paper, MORE.

I can think of no better way to describe this class than with the word MORE. It describes what Jac puts into this class, what you are expected to put into this class, and what you will get out of it if you truly do the work.

This is not a course that you will coast through at your leisure, it will come at you fast and it will only get harder.

But if you take the time to put all of yourself into this class, you will get so much MORE than you ever anticipated in return.

Ashley Evans

Fall 2011 Weekend Class


You need to give it your all.

You need to pay attention to the world around you.

  • Watch the news
  • Read the paper
  • Watch the Colbert and Daily Show
  • Know the people who run our country and city
  • Know the people who are in the Supreme Court
  • I strongly encourage you to go
  • It’s better to get your homework marked up on Wednesday, rather than have it marked up on Saturday when it counts.
  • Always remember to thank the guest speakers
  • You have to prioritize and organize your time
  • Come up with a study schedule
  • Every week come up with a study plan
  • Test are fill-in-the-blank
  • You really need to know the material
  • Flash cards are great
  • You can succeed through this course
  • You need to be fully committed
  • Devote any free time you have  to this class
  • If you prioritize your time and stay organized you will come out victorious
  • This class is stressful and demanding, but at the end of it you will feel so accomplished.
  • This class truly shows you what you are able to accomplish when you truly are committed to something.
  • Only the people in this class will understand what you’re going through.
  • Get know your classmates
  • Exchange email addresses and phone numbers

Shammara Polk

Fall 2010 

My survival tips for students:

1. Pay attention to everything Jac says!  If she says it, you need to know it.  Take good notes.

2. GO TO MIDWEEKS!!!  Take advantage of the opportunity to have your homework looked over before it is graded!

3. Get a schedule set up for doing homework and studying.  Set aside a few hours every day.  This is especially important if you work.

4. Use the power points to make practice tests for studying.

5. Do not argue with Jac.  Ever.  Jac is always right.  Because she is a genius.

6. Take this class very seriously.  You will get out of it what you put into it.  Study hard and pay attention.

Alison Shirley

Fall 2011 Weekend Class


1. Go to Midweek. You will hear this so many times from past students because it’s so important. Jac is giving you a wonderful opportunity, use it to your advantage.

2. Listen to Jac. Listen to the advice she’s giving you. She’s trying to help you. Don’t get offended if she corrects you, understand she knows more than you and is trying to help you.

3. Get to know your classmates. This is so important. No one will ever understand what you’re going through then those people sitting next to you in your class. Lean on them in the hard times because they know exactly what you’re going through. Open up and be willing to make new friends. I couldn’t have gone through this program without the support from my classmates. Laugh and have as much fun with them as you can, I promise when the class is over you will miss them and you will love them. I met one of my best friends in this class and for that I will forever be thankful.

4. Pay attention to the directions Jac gives you. She will tell you how she wants things done, just do it. Pay attention during the power points too. She will tell you when something’s important, write it down and study it.

5. Jac has pet peeves. Learn them and don’t do them. Learn how to spell definitely and don’t say my bad in front of her.

6. Listen to the guest speakers. Take their advice and really listen when they come and talk to you. These people are taking the time to come talk to you, don’t disrespect them and have your phone go off during the middle of their presentation.

7. Don’t wait till the last minute to start your homework or to study for the test. This is not a class you can procrastinate in.

8. Learn what’s going on in the world around you. Watch the news and watch the shows she recommends.

9. Get to class early. This allows you to have a chance to study with your classmates before the test. Don’t come in late.

10. Believe in yourself! There will be moments of doubt, talk to your classmates and talk to Jac. You will be a better person for meeting Jac and meeting your classmates. Jac is giving her time to you. Respect her and respect the people around you. You can do this. Don’t ever give up!

Megan Taylor

Fall 2014 Weekend Class


Try to get your homework done by Wednesday, so you  have Thursday and Friday to prepare for your tests
-Watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report 
-Know world leaders and current events
-Get to know your classmates.  They can help with your homework, any questions that you’re too afraid to ask Jac, and they are the only people who know what it’s like to go through this class.  Also, your classmates could help you get a job in the future.
-Bring food to class, and be prepared to gain weight during this class.
-Don’t miss class, if possible.
-E-mail your guest speakers when you get home from class.  The speeches are fresh in your head then, and you need to do so before you forget.  The speakers are giving up part of their weekends, so tell them you appreciate that!  (They could be your future bosses.)
-Don’t be afraid to ask Jac questions.  She doesn’t really bite…
-Start doing Extra Credit when you start the class instead of cramming them all in at the end of class.
-Proofread ALL homework assignments before you turn them into Jac.

Sallie Woodell

Fall 2009 


1.     Do not miss class.  A lot goes on each session, and much information is disseminated.  You are paying a good deal of money to take this class, and in theory it is preparing you for a new and important life.  So, take everything seriously and treat the class in a professional manner.

2.      Words are important.  Pay attention to them, especially if Jac says them.  For example, if Jac casually says as she discusses a topic of law, “Oh, incidentally, this is important and might be on a test,” chances are good the topic being discussed will make an appearance on a test.  Quite possibly that appearance will be on the next test.

3.     Be organized and stay on top of things.  Each week will be composed of three elements: readings, home work, and the tests on Saturday and Sunday.  So, develop a game plan, a rhythm, if you prefer that term, to get through each week.  For example, many survive the incessant pressure by completing the readings and the homework by Wednesday (see number 4, below), use Thursday to prepare for the test on Sunday, and leaving Friday open to prepare for the Saturday test.  That may not work for you, but the key is to develop a strategy that works for you and then stick to it as closely as possible.  The practice of organizing a plan and following it through to the end will yield enormous dividends to you and your career.

4.  Go to the mid-weeks on Wednesday.    It will force you to have the homework prepared by that time, and it will also show you the errors you have made in the homework.  That homework will mount each week, reaching its peak during the discovery process, and believe when I state you will need Jac’s Wednesday night wit and wisdom to keep you on top of the onslaught.  So, do yourself a big favor and take advantage of her generosity in taking time to meet with you each week.  Not many teachers would take the trouble to help their students like that.

5.    Develop a rapport with your fellow suffers in the class.  You will have moments of doubt and insecurity in this class.  It is important to realize you are not alone, and that everyone in the class  is experiencing similar emotions.   Also your fellow students can help you the key points in the course, and how to handle the homework.   And lastly, they are the only people who can understand what you are going through, and they are good people who for the most part are willing to help you. Which of course places a burden on you to be willing to help your fellow students and to lend a helping hand (and ear) when called upon to do so.

6.     Do not hate Jac or the class or the law.  It is a waste of time and energy.  If you have a problem, look in the nearest mirror – you will immediately  see the source of the problem and the only person who can get you through the class.  Try to remember:  all of your classmates  are in the same boat, madly bailing away to keep the boat afloat.  Keep in mind that others-many others-have survived, and so can you (see number 7, below).

7.      Believe in yourself.     If this course is the worst thing that has ever happened to you, you are doing quite well in life.  I will trade lives with you, even up.  So, believe in yourself and your gifts, do the best you can and get through the worst of this class with as good a attitude as possible.  Just get on with it.

Eric Buck

Fall 2009 

In order of priority focus on Homework, Exams and then Extra Credit.  Doing well on homework assignments will have a greater overall numerical impact on your final score than any other area.  You can conceivably make 100 on your assignments, a 25 exam average and a 25 on your final and still make a passing 70 in the class.  If your assignment average is 90 then your exam average and final score have to come up to 40 to pass.  Hence, the importance on the weekly assignments.

MIDWEEK! MIDWEEK! MIDWEEK! MIDWEEK! MIDWEEK!  Where else can you have your assignments reviewed and critiqued by the very person who will ultimately grade them.  Although it is not mandatory, going to Midweek pays enormous dividends on your assignment grades.  Come prepared to pet Jac’s dogs.

DO THE EXTRA CREDIT!!!….every little bit helps and some are easy.

Create and study using practice exams from the class presentations using a fill in the blank format.

DO not argue with Jac!  She’s right!  Even if you KNOW she is wrong she’s right!  It’s her class and it is not a democracy.  In addition to teaching you an enormous amount of content, she is also preparing you for the temperamental and mercurial personalities of most lawyers.

Rick Pruneda

Fall 2011 Weekend Class 


1. Learn all of Jac’s pet peeves. Doing this will save you points on assignments.

2. Flashcards are ideal to quickly learn a lot of information.

3. Always bring your books, power points, pen, highlighter, name tag, and your homework folder to class.

4. Always attend midweek. Even if you haven’t completed all the assignments, bring what you have completed for Jac to check.

5. Listen to what Jac corrects on your classmates assignments and don’t make the same mistakes.

6. Do as much extra credit as you can.

7. Make friends with your classmates. If you have a question they are a great resource.

8. Follow Jac’s directions for every assignment. There is a reason she gives them to you!

9. Form study groups and make a practice test.

10. Turn your phone off or leave it in the car.

11. Organization is extremely important in this class as well as being a paralegal.

12. Always take time to thank the guest speakers.

13. Get to class early. This gives you an opportunity to study with your classmates before the test. Jac will not be late and will not wait for you to begin the test.

13. Most importantly, enjoy the class! As crazy as it sounds the class is a lot of fun and you will learn so much in a short amount of time. This class really does make you a better citizen, thinker, and person.

My schedule for the class was as follows: 
Monday and Tuesday homework, Wednesday midweek, Thursday correct homework, Friday and Saturday study for the test, Sunday breathe!

Stacie Johnson

Summer 2011


To all future paralegals, 

Jac is an excellent teacher for this course. She demands and expects excellence from each and every one of her students. She can be tough, but tough is what you need. She has a purpose for everything she does and says. Jac prepares you for the career that you will have as a paralegal. Here are a few things to help you get through paralegal boot camp. 

1. Go to Midweeks – Jac will help you to get on the right track with your homework. 
2. Finish your homework no later than Wednesday afternoon so you can take it to midweek so she can tear it apart. 
3. Take Thursday and Friday to study for the test, after you have made your homework corrections. 
4. Know the Supreme Court justices. 
5. Know the world leaders. 
6. Keep up with current events and sports. 
7. Remember all the guest speakers. And pay attention to what they have to say because they have valuable information for you. 
8. Use spell check on your computer and proofread your work. 
9. Be detailed on your tests. 
10.Do as much as you can of the extra credit. 
11.Have fun!!!! And don’t give up! 

Good luck to all of you.

Brian Harrison 

Summer 2009


Survival Tips:

1. Be impeccable with your word.

2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
Oh wait, those aren’t my survival tips.  Those are the Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz.
Survival Tips:
1.  The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz.
2.  Learn CPR.  You never know when you’re going to meet a half dead paralegal.
3.  Do what you are doing when you are doing it.  When Jac’s talking, listen to Jac talking.  When your classmate is asking a question, listen to them asking the question.  When that question is being answered, listen to that answer.  When a guest speaker is talking, listen to the guest speaker talking.  Text, tweet, tumble, Facebook, email, daydream, worry, plan, read, instagram, pinterest, be tired, make lists, or whatever it is, later.
4.  Ask questions, but don’t ask questions just to try to hear the answer you want to hear.  Be open to receive the answer, or don’t ask.
Example:  Q: Is it true you can bribe a judge? A: No
Q: Well, if you gave the judge a lot of money, could you bribe him? A:  No
Q: Well, if it was $40,000, could you?  Because I know you can, because my family member did it. A: no answer because –
—No answer other than “yes, you can bribe a judge” was an acceptable answer to that question.  It should never have been asked.  -But boy, I’m glad it was! 🙂
5.  Ignore tip #4.  Your classmates could very well thank you for it.
6.  Go to midweek.  Once you’ve gone to midweek, and you have your marked up, scratched-through homework ready to be corrected, and  you sit down to start working on it again, stop.  Get your next assignment ready for the next midweek, THEN go back to correct your assignment that is actually due. That way, when you finish your homework that is due, you’re not tempted to just be done, and not get your homework ready for midweek, since you really don’t “have to.”
7.  After you pull a long night studying and doing homework, and you’re more exhausted than you’ve ever been, still brush your teeth before bed.  You might be pulling a lot of those long nights, depending on your schedule, and your teeth will thank you when the class is over.  Of course, if you don’t, your dentist might thank you.
8.  That being said, practice good habits.  If you don’t have any, develop some during this class.  Look to Jac, look to your peers, look at yourself, and find some habits that will help you succeed.  If it’s a certain study time each day, or the food you eat, or the number of tequila shots you take, find what works, and develop some habits that help you succeed.  I’m personally not advocating tequila shots, but everybody  is different, and you never know.
9.  But if I must suggest, I do suggest getting in the habit of being friendly.  You might not see the connection with classroom success, but trust me, the connection is there.
10.  Be willing to get rid of habits that hinder you.  Habit of cramming at the last minute?  Take the first test.  Get rid of the habit of last minute cramming.
11.  Do not quit the class.  If you aren’t in the class, there is no hope.  As long as you are willing to put in the work, and make whatever sacrifices you must, there is hope.  I’m not saying there is a guarantee of finishing, but at least you still have the opportunity.  Every single class day from about the 4th class until the last 2 weeks, I thought that day would be my last day.  I was on the board, and still, every night before, and every morning of, I had to talk myself out of quitting.  Do not quit the class.
12.  Do not miss class.  Don’t convince yourself that you could use that time to stay home and catch up or get ahead.  Go to class.
13.  Don’t get behind.  Keep up with your reading, studying, and assignments.
14.  Start extra credit on the first day you leave class.  That night might be the most free time you have for the next 12 weeks, or you might end up with lots of extra time, but you don’t really know, so be proactive.
15.  Wear sunscreen.  Better yet, wear sun protective clothing.
Martha Bonin
Spring 2013

Make sure you have an open line of communication with Jac.

Instead of feeling defensive about your homework grade, ask for help and guidance. Jac doesn’t mind helping you better yourself as a writer and a student when you communicate your concerns and confusions with her. She’s the best asset in the class, utilize her.
Shae Dennis
Summer 2015

Go to mid-week every week! It gives you a chance to do really well on homework which is worth the most.

Form a study group for tests. They really help when someone else is there asking you questions and puts you in the hot seat to find the answers.

Make friends. I didn’t do this until a few weeks in because I didn’t see the point in making friends for such a short class. It turned out to make the class more fun and bearable even with all of the work and tests.

Listen to Jac. If she says something specifically, and especially if she harbors on it or repeats it, it is going I be on the test-just pay attention.

Last but not least, ask guest speakers lots of questions if you can. I was never good at this but some students in the class were and the speakers really do appreciate it.

Chelsea Bieber

Fall 2011 Weekend Class

My survival tips:

1.  Make friends with your classmates.  They are the only people who will ever understand what you are going through in this class, and you’re going to need them.  Even if this means stepping outside your comfort zone – even if it means cramming seven total strangers into one car to go to lunch on the first day of class – it will be worth it in the end.

2.  Pay attention to the little things Jac says in class.  If she quietly, nonchalantly says “So, in case anyone ever asks you, this is…” what she really means is “Someone is going to ask you, it’s going to be me, and it’s going to be in the form of a test question.  Know it.”

3.  Re-learn all those really basic things about American history that any fourth-grader could easily tell you, but most adults couldn’t remember if their life depended on it.

4.  Bring food to class.  It will help with that whole making friends thing, and put everyone in a better mood.

5.  GO TO MIDWEEKS.  If you want to do well in this class, they are essential.

6.  If you don’t already have a gmail account, you need to get one.

7.  Go ahead and invest in a few thousand note cards, extra ink cartridges, and several reams of paper. Paralegal students kill a lot of trees.

8.  Pay attention to what’s going on in the world around you.  Watch the news, read the paper, be a fan of Houston sports teams, learn who does what in our government, and know the people in charge of other countries.

9.  Respect your teacher.  There is a method to her madness, and everything she says or does will eventually serve a purpose.  Never forget that.

10.  Have fun, and enjoy your class.  This is one of the hardest things you will ever do, and you will come out of it a better person.  In the meantime, take lots of pictures, make lots of inside jokes, and make some great memories with your classmates.  It will be over before you know it.

Jen Bonds

Summer 2009

My Survival Tips


2.       Complete all your homework before midweek.

3.       Complete the extra credit. Everything Jac has on the extra credit list  is there for a reason.

4.       Set aside a certain time of day to complete your homework.

5.       If you can’t find an answer to a homework question, take a break

6.       Start your homework on Monday at the latest.

7.       YOU MUST KEEP UP! If you fall behind it is extremely hard to catch up.

8.       At midweek, take note of what Jac is saying about the homework mistakes everyone makes.

9.       There is a reason for everything in Jac’s class.

10.   If you ever feel like giving up, remind yourself why you chose to take the class and how good you’ll feel after you graduate.

11.   Make friends with everyone, they’ll help you a lot during this class.

12.   Find a method of studying that works for you.

13.   Be organized.

14.   Listen, take notes, and ask questions when the guest speakers come to the speak to the class.

15.   Never argue with Jac.

16.   Jac’s teaching style prepares you for what to expect when you get a job as a paralegal.

17.   Words are important.

18.   Listen and pay attention to everything Jac says.

Patricia Wilken, Valedictorian

Fall 2012


Pay close attention to EVERYTHING Jac says.  If necessary write down everything she says.  There may not be a quiz, but Jac tells you everything for a reason and it will all come in handy over the long haul.
-Don’t wait until the last minute to start your homework.  Some seemingly easy assignments may require more time and effort than you first thought.  It is best to err on the side of caution and give yourself plenty of wiggle room.
-Learn from your mistakes.  Don’t make the same mistake twice.
-Be sure to ask questions of the guest speakers.  Not only is there a class participation grade, but even the simplest question can provoke an enlightening and insightful response.
-Remember, there is no try there is only do.
Nathan McWilliams
Spring 2013

Get as much rest as possible:  You think more clearly and absorb more information when you are rested.  In addition, you may avoid colds and things like that.

Find a study method that works for you:  Repetition is key for getting all those facts to stay in your head.  Some people hand wrote the main ideas of the handouts and PowerPoints on cards, some people typed the main ideas into documents that they printed out, and some people just re-read all the handouts and PowerPoints.  Make sure you review your information for each week’s test, but you also want to retain the information for future usage.

Maintain your sense of humor and stay relaxed:  Make sure you keep your perspective on all the work involved.  It just seems insurmountable, but you will succeed.  Be able to laugh at yourself and your foibles.

Take deep breaths:  If you find yourself on the verge of panic, whether completing homework or taking a test, take a deep breath.  You think more clearly when you breathe deeply.  It helps you to relax.  A relaxed brain is more likely to grab that arcane piece of information needed or look at things in a new light.

Do your work now, not tomorrow:  This course is over before you know it.  Many times meaning to get to something doesn’t always get things done.  If you have to scramble at the last minute, you can start panicking, then you aren’t thinking clearly, and then it takes twice as long to get things done.

Go to Mid-Weeks:  This is so valuable.  Jac reviews your homework and gives you ideas for improvement.  Since homework counts for 60% of your grade at a minimum, this really helps.  Listen to what she says to others, because that can help you, too.

Take advantage of your classmates:  If you have a question, send it out to any or all of your classmates.  It’s amazing how many times we exchanged thoughts in person and found out that others felt the same frustration.  Make sure you do your own work, but classmates can help.

Do the extra credit work:  Almost all of the extra credit work takes at least three hours and may involve a small cost (renting / buying DVDs, obtaining books to read, and so on).  But you actually learn things about the legal system and specific court procedures and laws and cases.  All the time you invest in any extra credit assignment is time invested in yourself and your knowledge bank.

Treat Jac as your supervising attorney:  Listen to what she says.  In this class, Jac is the lawyer you are trying to please.  She doesn’t want to hear what other lawyers think or say about her preferences.  She is the one to review your work.  What they may think about your work means nothing to Jac.

Pay attention to Jac’s pet peeves:  Here is a list obtained from the first class, but I’m sure more things can be added:

  • Be on time all the time;
  • Turn off your cell phones in class;
  • Use complete sentences in your homework;
  • Use 12 point font, so it looks big enough to read without glasses;
  • Only use the word “hopefully” when you can substitute it for the phrase “full of hope.”  You can hopefully approach the loan officer, but you won’t hopefully get a loan;
  • Don’t use “try and.”  Use “try to;”
  • Definitely spell “definitely” correctly;
  • Don’t end any sentence with a preposition;
  • Make sure you always have proper agreement with singular/plural subject / verbs / objects;
  • “Who” refers to people; “that” refers to objects;
  • Be careful of homonyms:  their, they’re, there; your, you’re; it’s, its;
  • Make sure you correctly use the words “loose” and “lose;”
  • You don’t feel that the court meant to say . . . ; you believe or think so;
  • If you use the word “literally,” make sure it is actually so;
  • Don’t use fill-ins, like raising your hand, being recognized, and stating “I have a question;”
  • Don’t ever cite Wikipedia or any Wiki site;
  • Pay attention and don’t ask questions that have already been asked and answered;
  • If you use quotations, put the punctuation marks inside the quotation marks;
  • Don’t use “etc.”  Law is all about the exact meaning of the words and “etc.” could mean anything at all;
  • When using bullets in the law, end each bullet point with a semicolon and put either “and” or “or” at the end of the penultimate bullet point; and
  • When you use a pronoun to refer to Congress or a court, always use “it,” not “they.

Peggy Colligan

Summer 2009


My advice to new students will be to:

1- NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER miss midweek.

2- Finish homework by midweek. It is a MUST.

3- Consider midweek as another day in class.

4- Learn how to spell DEFINITELY.

5- Listen to Jac’s directions on homework.

6- MAKE friends with everyone in class.

7- Start your extra credit as soon as possible.

8- DO NOT FALL behind because it is very hard to catch up.
Never give up. If you think that you can’t go on, believe me,  you can.
Maria Lupe Rojas
Fall 2012


I am a graduate of the Paralegal Certificate Program, Winter Class 2009.  If you are considering this program or have already registered for the next class, I wanted to share some survival tips I learned.  I recommend that you attend the midweek tutoring sessions starting the first week.  Though Jac will not tell you exactly what needs to be done to make your assignment perfect, she’ll give you a very good idea about what needs to be corrected.  I didn’t attend the midweeks at the beginning and I can tell you there was a big difference between the weeks that I did attend and the ones that I didn’t in eliminating careless errors and time consuming guesswork.  I went into class on Saturdays feeling much more confident about what I had accomplished in that week’s homework assignments after having attended midweek.  One of our guest speakers early on told us that our answer to anything we’re asked to do as paralegals should be yes.  That is a good approach to everything that you’re asked to do in this class.  Just think, yes I can. There will be times when you’re not sure what is expected or how to go about completing an assignment, but with that attitude you’ll find a way.  Also, a good resource if you’re lost is to communicate well with your classmates right from the beginning.  You’ll want to challenge yourself to figure things out on your own with each new assignment, but when truly stuck, or to make sure you’re on the right track, a classmate can give you some helpful hints.  Remember to e-mail and call classmates just to offer motivational support.  No one else will really understand what you are going through in taking this course.  Family and friends should be made aware that time you usually have to spend with them will be scarce during these weeks.  You can make up for it when you finish. Plan your week‘s assignments beginning on Saturday so that you can get all your homework accomplished by the Wednesday midweek.  Then you’ll have Thursday and Friday to make any corrections necessary to the assignments and study for the tests.  The earlier you start the better.  I also learned never to take too much time with an assignment if I got stuck.  I would move on to the next thing, and come back to what I was stuck on later when I’d finished everything else.  This especially was helpful with Lexis and O’Connor’s assignments.  That strategy reduced the amount of time I was spending on homework assignments significantly.  However, I was usually just finishing my work in time each week.  The course load is heavy, and there’s no way around that.  In studying for tests, I found that reading over my notes that I’d taken in class was helpful and making flashcards using the Powerpoint study guides prepared me well.  Try to do as many of the extra credit assignments as you can and start early.  Finally, enjoy your awesome teacher and the wonderful guest speakers she brings to class.

Kathryn Murphy

1.      First and foremost, do whatever it takes to attend Midweek. It is the most important step to succeeding in the class. In my class, those who didn’t regularly attend midweek did not do well in the class. Have all of the weeks assignments complete for Midweek. If you get all of your assignments reviewed by Midweek, you can make the corrections fairly quickly and devote the rest of the week to preparing for the tests.

2.      Form study groups with your classmates: we met every Friday and Saturday and crammed before each test. It really helped to discuss each topic with each other.

3.      Make flashcards and practice tests. They are a great study tool.

4.      Stay current on the news- local, national and world and watch the Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Current events may show up as bonus questions on tests. It’s an easy way to get extra points to boost your grade.

5.      Separate yourself from distractions. I spent almost every evening at Starbucks for a couple of hours working on assignments and studying.

6.      Attend dockets. Out of all of the extra credit opportunities, dockets were, in my opinion, the easiest and the most educational. It gives you a close up look at what court is like and also can offer some great networking opportunities.

7.      Outside paralegal internships are difficult to come by so do whatever it takes to qualify for an internship. It looks great on your resume and the amount of experience gained in an internship is invaluable.

8.       It is important to learn Jac’s pet peeves. She will yell at you, and you will deserve it. Every attorney has their pet peeves; it’s a good habit to become familiar with them.

9.      Do not miss class. One day of Jac’s class is equivalent to four regular class days. If you miss one day you will have missed all of the information for the next test.

10.  Take a non-class day off to relax. The class can get pretty stressful and you will lose your mind if you don’t take a break once in a while.

Katherine Castillo

Fall 2011 Weekend Class

1. Develop and understand your study technique. Even if you have recently graduated from high school or college or perhaps never attended college, you can benefit from reading Appendix E in the textbook – Effective Learning: How to Study.

2. Arrive to class a few minutes early. You will find that these few minutes will help you to get organized and focused, especially if there is a test that day.

3. This is an accelerated program and you must have good listening skills. Keep your ears open for important information and take good notes. Jac will say things that might appear on a test.

4. Consider attending the Midweek Sessions. Only so much can be shared in an 8 hour rigorous class period, so midweek sessions are very beneficial. This is an informal and comfortable setting that will allow you an opportunity to get extra help and ask questions about tough assignments. To get the most out of your midweek experience, you should complete all assignments in advance and bring those with you.

Wilma Bradford 

Spring 2008 

I would describe Jac’s teaching style as:

Very informative but makes you think for yourself, just like you will have to do in your job. You do not just give out answers, you teach the material and then help students walk through the process of getting to the answer of any questions they might have.

Tracy Moore 

Fall 2007 

My advice, do whatever it takes to get that light bulb to go “ding!” The sooner one realizes to stop resisting the sooner it will all start to make sense.

Suhan Shae 

Spring 2008 

Survival tips: Always ask questions. If there is anything that you are not sure about, ask and get the clarity and direction you need before you spend hours doing it the wrong way.

Gidget Ortiz 

Spring 2008 

A valuable tool that helped me study for tests were the outlines that you can print out from the Powerpoints. First of all, ask Jac, or someone you know, to show you how to print out the Powerpoint lessons in the correct handout format, and the outline form. I, for one, did not know how to access this information, and it was really stressful at first trying to figure it out. It is so much easier to study when the information is in a concise format on two or three pages, rather than having to flip from page to page trying to remember all the data. When there were no powerpoints but only large volumes of information, like the handouts from the Houston Bar Association, I found it very useful to type my own notes from the information that we highlighted. It took some time, but typing it helped to get the information in my head and gave me a shortened version to study.

Also, just like Bonnie Battinelli said when she spoke to our class, the midweeks were very helpful in giving us insight into Jac’s expectations. I enjoyed the sessions immensely and used them as a type of individual tutoring session that there is not time for in class. Additionally, having to doing one or two homework assignments every day in order to complete them before midweek was also helpful to keep the assignments from getting put off to the last minute.

Every comment and bit of knowledge Jac shared became important on taking tests and in figuring out how to do homework. Intent listening skills are a must!

Deborah Rhodes 

Spring 2008 

You must be prepared to work hard. Hard work could get you somewhere if you take this class. Do your best on every homework. Remember to look over and correct any mistakes. Study every day,so you can do well on tests. Get your homework done as soon as possible so you can have some studying time. You must be capable of memorizing everything Jac teaches you. Do your best and do not give up.

Adam Fung

Winter 2009

What to leave at the door:

– Your bad attitude

– Your excuses

– Your cell phone ringer

– Your notion of “what’s right” or “how my lawyer does it.”

– Your free time

What to bring in to class:

– An open mind

– A fiery wit

– An open heart

– A willingness to learn

– Your brain

– A hunger for knowledge

– Your sense of accountability

– Your sense of humor

Although I graduated as valedictorian, I couldn’t have done it without some of the people in my class. Make friends and be nice. Use the old-school rules of playground politics. You’d be surprised at how some people forget this rule.

And have fun. I’m actually gonna miss weekends with Jac.

Melissa Wethe

Winter 2009


1. Never miss midweek.
2. Always, always do your homework, and have it ready by midweek. It’ll be easier to just correct, than to still be working on homework Friday night and have a test the next morning.
3. Always listen carefully to Jac’s directions. You’ll be stuck during homework, if you don’t.
4. Pay attention to everything she discusses in class. It’ll help in the long run.
Never give up. It’ll be easy to just give up, but only the strongest and the ones who really want it stay until the course ends. Its worth it!

Adriana Mancha

Fall 2012


LISTEN! Take notes (mental or written)even if it doesn’t make sense at the time…it will. Jac does not waste words, nor does she say anything for nothing.

Alberta Hill 

Winter 2008 


My advice for future paralegal students would be to start on your homework Sunday night, and finish it before midweek on Wednesday. Then use the end of the week to make corrections from midweek and study for tests.

Ashley Strawmyer

Fall 2008

This program was very challenging but the 10 weeks went by fast!  I will admit I had my doubts about committing to every weekend, but now I’m glad I did and am looking forward to advanced classes with Jac.

As time consuming as this program was, I was able to keep working 50 hours per week and attend my daughter’s games, but that’s about it.  I had to give up fun activities such as going to the grocery store, cooking, and cleaning. Be prepared to be committed!

You will have lots of homework and you will have to spend every free moment studying.  I would recommend getting started on homework as soon as it is posted and DEFINITELY attend midweeks.  Attending midweeks is what got me through this program!

Jac is a no nonsense kind of person, as are many attorneys.  She will tell you what to do or what not to do and she is NOT joking!  When reading assignments, do exactly what Jac says to do.  You will learn to accept criticism but this will only help you in the professional world.  You will hardly ever make the same mistake twice.  Jac is punctual, do not be late!  Take notes and study the PowerPoints.  Ask questions but don’t expect a flat out answer from Jac.  Get help from AND help your classmates.  Do all the extra credit you can early on.  Always be aware of what is going on in the world.

Jac did more than give us the skills to become paralegals, she helped us to become well rounded people.

Marta Ramirez

Fall 2008

Enrolling in the 10-week UH Paralegal Certification Program in January 2008 was one of the more valuable actions I’ve taken in my life. I could cite many reasons for this conclusion, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll mention just three or four.

The course is a rigorous mental challenge. You have to think. You have to search for information in many sources. You have to consider opposing points of view. You have to be willing to question the validity of your beliefs. You must read, read, read, and not just the course texts, but other publications, especially newspapers, as well.

The law is not formed in a vacuum, but rather from the stuff of everyday life.

The course for me was an enormous confidence builder. Well into my 60s when I enrolled, I was by far the oldest student in our class. I had serious doubts about my ability to keep up with my classmates, who for the most part were much, much younger. I was prouder of the A I earned in the program than I was of top grades I received in college.

What a relief it was to realize my age was an advantage, not a detriment!

My classmates and instructor became more than that; they became my friends. And there is no way I could overstate the admiration I have for Jac Brennan. She made the program so interesting and so much fun that it was always enjoyable, even when it was difficult. Moreover,

Jac has continued as a mentor to her former students.

In addition to all of the above, I went to work two months after graduation as a legal assistant for one of Houston’s top family law attorneys.

I recommend this program to anyone who has an interest in becoming a paralegal.

Jim Belew 

Winter 2008

Jac’s teaching style for the Paralegal Certificate Program includes various methods but mainly textbooks, PowerPoint handouts and lectures. The handouts, textbooks and lectures are all easily followed. I always found Jac’s lectures to be extremely informative, interesting and always peppered with sample cases that really bring the topic of discussion to life. Like the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit – I never knew the details and wow, do the details make a difference! However, Jac does not teach with the typical “hand holding” approach. This is extremely important because you are being taught by an attorney on how to work for an attorney. While Jac is always available for any questions or assistance she is REALLY trying to teach you to think on your own, learn from your mistakes, how to be resourceful and how to assist your attorney. This kind of guidance is priceless!

Survival tips:

The Paralegal Certificate Program is condensed, hardcore and not for the faint of heart. Be prepared!!

1. Make sure all assignments are typed and in 12 point font. This may sound picky, but attorneys like things done a certain way and you need to learn that way fast! My attorney can spot a font error instantly.

2. Be organized!!! In a law firm you will be relied upon to keep your attorney organized. A good attorney is always supported by a great paralegal!

3. Start homework the day it is assigned. DO NOT wait until the Friday before it is done to begin. Always anticipate the worst and be ahead of schedule. You never know when you may get sick, have to work late, or your computer crashes! Start early and pace yourself – do a little each night.

4. Take notes.

5. Get to class early. Jac is punctual.

6. Do all of the extra credit assignments. The assignments will really help you see the big picture.

7. Study for the test during the week and during any spare moment.

8. Mid-weeks are an extra cost and not affiliated with the University however, these are awesome opportunities for one on one time with Jac. Also, you learn a lot by listening to other students’ questions.

9. Be 100% committed to the course and yourself. You are spending a lot of money on the course so make the investment in yourself. This may mean putting your social life on hold, but it is a small price to pay for everything you’ll gain. Get all you can out of the course, you never know what your attorney will assign to you next!

Jan Whaley 


Winter 2007 

Tough. Hardcore. Precise. Unapologetic. Exactly what you need. Jac’s teaching style isn’t for the weak. You better be ready to bring it!

Joanna Meade 

Spring 2008 

Attention to Detail:

Pay particular to details, whether it be a period, a comma, or making sure that the grammar is correct in a sentence. This attention to detail will be extremely important in the professional world.

Ask Questions:

Do NOT be afraid to ask a question (even if it sounds stupid). If you do not understand a concept or what is being taught, ASK. Make sure you have questions for guest speakers. When someone asks, “do you have any questions,” this is not a rhetorical question. Ask.

Become a Knowledge Sponge:

You will be hit with LOTS of information. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming. Learn to become a sponge and suck up all the knowledge. Take good notes, and if need be, bring in a tape recorder and record the class.

Your fellow students can help you:

You will build some great friendships in the class. Learn from your other classmates. Meeting early or staying late after class will benefit everyone involved. A quiz time before class ALWAYS helps.

The world does not stop because you are in class:

Know your current events and what is going on in the world. What might seem mundane could be important (politics, world leaders, important things that affect the courts) to the class. It is also important to know these things in the professional world.

Rich Brzoska 

Spring 2008

1 Keep a positive attitude & stay determined.

2. Remind yourself of why you are there: To learn.(because you will question yourself every week! )

3. Starting on day one, take notes on EVERYTHING!

2. Read & Study all power points.

3. Start your homework on Sunday or Monday.

4. Start with the easiest assignment first.

5. Ask for help at all times.

6. Study with your classmates.

7. Study for tests everyday of the week.

8. Study the spelling of EVERY WORD.

9. Have faith & do not give up.

10. Do not ANYTHING personal & HAVE FUN!!! 😉

Before you know it, you will learn:

The Constitution

Supreme Justices

Basic Law

How to spell

Correct Grammar

Organization Skills

How to be self sufficient

Current Events

More than you ever imagined in a short time &

How to overcome anything!

The best advice I can give, is to stay positive & be prepared for the next challenge!

Tursha Gaddy

Fall 2008


This class is a rough one, but it’s most definitely a class in which you can excel. Here are my bits of advice in order to do just that:

  1. Have respect for Jac and your classmates. There will be many times during the class in which you will need help from Jac or your fellow classmates. These are going to be the only people who truly know what you’re going through, and you never want to be on bad terms with any of them.
  2. Get enough sleep the night before each class. Each day of class is jam-packed with material. It is so crucial to stay awake during lectures and, really, whenever Jac speaks. Things she says are important. She can be giving directions on homework, or telling you an important piece of information that will be on the next test. Also, never ask Jac to repeat something.
  3. Be engaged and ask questions. This is especially true when there is a guest speaker presenting to the class. Asking questions lets the guest speaker know that you are interested in their work, and it really is just the respectful thing to do.
  4. Figure out the best way to study for memorization. The tests are almost all memorization of the powerpoints and handouts that Jac will present during lecture. For me, I utilized Quizlet, which is an online study tool that allows the user to create flashcard sets. Whatever the best way for you to memorize it, USE IT!
  5. Get started on your homework the day after class. I always used the rest of the evening after class to relax, but then I was back on the grind the very next day. You WILL have questions on the homework, and you will want to have enough time to ask Jac those questions via email before the due date. Also, you will definitely need to have your homework done before midweek, which leads me to my next bit of advice:
  6. GO TO MIDWEEK! I can firmly say that midweek is what really got me and kept me above the A line. Jac will look at your homework and basically grade it for you, which gives you a chance to fix any and everything that is wrong with it before officially turning it in. She will yell at you, and it is scary, but it is worth it. Trust me.
  7. Get to class at least 15 minutes early. Jac will sometimes be kind enough to conduct a very helpful review session before tests, but you can only take advantage of it if you’re present. Be there and be engaged.
  8. Form friendships. Friends you make in this class will give you the mental and emotional support you need when the class gets really stressful. It helped me from having complete breakdowns from time to time.
  9. Look up and know information that Jac tells you to know. As Jac will tell you, if you won’t bother to know the information that your lawyer likes to know him/herself, then you won’t make a good paralegal. This kind of information will include knowing the names of the Supreme Court Justices, being up to date on who is playing who in regards to sports, and knowing current events.
  10. Lastly, remember to have fun. This is a fast-paced and challenging class, but there are most definitely moments of laughter and fun. Enjoy those moments with Jac and your fellow classmates.

Best of luck!

Mehek Verani

Fall 2014 Weekend Class Valedictorian



My tips are:
Never underestimate the time needed to study and complete homework.
ALWAYS be prepared for midweek.
NEVER get behind on homework.
Study for all tests using the PowerPoint printouts that you will go over in class.   WORDS ARE IMPORTANT.  Always use the same phrases and definitions given by Jac on the PowerPoint slides.  One word missing will make an answer incorrect.
Stay informed on current and political events, and sports  — this may save your grade as many of the bonus points are related to these issues.
This class must be your first priority — forget about the dishes and laundry — it will still be there tomorrow.
Last, but not least, get to know Jac.  She is truly an amazing person and I feel very fortunate to have been in her class.  She will challenge you and amaze you with her memory and knowledge. Get to know your classmates as they will be invaluable in your studies.  Enjoy Jac and each other, and most of all have fun.  I still miss the students and Jac.  We had a very varied group of people and it was a joy to get to know them all.
Laura Jardine
Weekday Class 2012

Survival Tips:

1.  First and foremost, understand that during this program, the program IS your top priority. You must live and breathe this class, and ONLY this class. Your personal life, household chores,      and everything else, must be sacrificed for these few weeks.

2.  NEVER miss midweek under any circumstances, no matter how brutal you may expect it to be.

3.  Take advantage of any extra credit that you can make time for. You may be surprised by what you may learn, and it can make the difference between a final grade of an A or a B, or passing or failing the program, altogether.

4. ALWAYS pay attention to current events and watch the shows that Jac advises you to watch. Bonus points may prove to be the difference between earning an A or a B, or passing or failing a test.

5. Take full advantage of modern technology. Record ALL lectures, as well as your own recorded voice, (i.e. via iPhone), while reviewing study notes and definitions. There are numerous, inexpensive car adapters available that you can utilize to listen to the recorded material through the speakers of your car. Instead of listening to the radio or your favorite CD, listen to the recorded class material everywhere you go.

6.  NEVER fear asking Jac a question, whether it is during class, or via email between classes. She will do her best to be available to advise you as promptly, as possible.

7.  Make friends and assist each other, when allowed. You’ll know when it is not allowed.

8. Pay close attention to EVERYTHING that is mentioned in class by Jac, as well as the guest speakers, as you never know when you may see it on a test, or simply need the information. Remember, WORDS ARE IMPORTANT.

9. ALWAYS provide your best work. If it is not worth doing with excellence, it’s not worth doing, at all.

10. Lastly, never argue with Jac about ANYTHING, as she is probably right. Always remember, in this class, Jac’s word is “LAW.” No pun intended.

Charnelle Barnes

Spring 2012


I will share a few things I noticed during the course.

  1. In the start I was very much involved in the course and was more than ready to do everything in time but wasn’t aware of the precise method of getting things done correctly and that issue was solved by going to Midweek regularly.
  2. As I mentioned I was very serious about it and wouldn’t be tired to do my work. Somehow as some weeks went by I felt I started taking things light and got kinda lazy. I noticed that in some other classmates as well. That I think is something every new student needs to know because they might take it light and this course is rigorous and full of learning.
  3. Please look at everything with a positive attitude. No good thing is ever easy.
  4. Must Must Must read the books Jac Brennan advises to read as extra credit. I can say this with confidence that those books will be a great source of paradigm shift for those who will only show lukewarm commitment to this course in particular and to the study of law in general.
  5. Keep yourself involved in it and the course will be over before you know it.
  6. Also, I saw that some students just gave up for reasons best known to them and quit the course. Just know that there’s nothing as joyous as achieving something by struggling for it.
  7. Jac Brennan will be a blessing for you because one thing that I will vividly recall even years from now will be that She was the one who knew the answer to every question we had. We all knew that whatever concern we have, Jac will have the answer. Her method of teaching is a great favor by preparing the students for what will come our way once we hit the road for job hunting.

Imran Jan

Fall 2012



Paralegals – the REAL Power of Attorney!