Students often write to Jac after finding a job to share their success stories, either for this website or for the HPAA’s Facebook page.
How do I put in words how one person had the power to completely change another person’s life in a way that no one ever imagined possible? Well, I’m going to try really hard in attempting in explaining this. So here goes nothing. I’m sure you are fully aware in how awesome you are. If you didn’t know, then you wouldn’t have told our class many times how you were always right and until we realized this, we were going to have serious problems in class. Ha! I specifically remember one incident when a group of us were at midweek in the morning and you told me that I was wrong about something that I had done wrong on my homework assignment. Silly me thought that I could convince you otherwise by arguing my “wrong” point. Then while trying to explain to you why I thought that I was right, I realized how terribly wrong I was. I corrected myself and said, “You know what, I think you’re right.” You looked straight at me and said, “I know Maribel. See, if I agreed with you then we would both be wrong.” I never once argued with you again. Jac, you have completely turned my world around. Thanks to you, I can’t ever look at this world the same again. I am so aware of my surroundings now, I could just kiss it on the face if I could! I appreciate culture, history, politics, news, current events, and yes even sports now! You showed me the importance of political figures that will not only determine my future but my girls’ future as well. You brought out the absolute best in me. This class has completely opened my eyes like I just woke up from a deep sleep. This class has done more for me than I could possibly fit in this letter. I just want to shout to the world, “I’m a changed human being! Look at me world, you better watch out, Maribel’s coming!”
I remember many times during midweek, it would feel like you were taking me over your knee and spanking me over and over again with your words. I was always terrified to go to midweek because I knew the humiliation I would soon come across but every time I walked away, a small piece of me was slowly changing. I didn’t quite understand it or could explain it if I had to, but I could definitely feel it happening. I was no longer thinking like the “old Maribel” anymore, I was thinking more like some kind of paralegal that Jac was slowly molding and creating behind our backs. The more I listened to your words and the lessons you taught us in class, the more knowledgeable I became. It would almost feel at times like I was starving mentally during the week but as soon as the weekend came, you would take a spoon and feed me all of this knowledge that you possessed, and just then I could function all over again. I knew every time you yelled at us, criticized us, made us cry (Well some of us), and hammered us with your words, it was because you were trying to shape the “perfect” paralegal in us. A lot of us didn’t understand why you were the way you were and some of us just wanted to throw something at you during class. (Preferably a kolache or cinnamon roll.) After we all realized what it was that you were doing, we couldn’t help but respect you that much more. Classes on weekends, I wanted to literally devour every word you would say. I didn’t want to forget anything that you said for one second, it was too valuable! Your lessons have changed me into this thinking machine and I can’t make it stop! I don’t want it to stop and I give you all the credit for it. Thank you. You have inspired me to want to improve myself in all areas of my life because anything less is just simply not acceptable. You have taught me to not only to think like an amazing paralegal but to be a remarkable US citizen as well. You taught all of us in class that it’s a privilege to live here, that this country doesn’t owe us a damn thing. Just because we were born here doesn’t give us a God given right to walk around like fools not knowing who runs this country. As a US citizen, we need to educate ourselves and understand why it’s such an honor to live in this great country. People from other countries would kill to live here and those that have lived here all of their lives have taken advantage of this privilege. They throw away the opportunity to get to know this country better and share her to the rest of the world. This nation is so valuable and it has very rich meaning behind it. You showed us that we, who call ourselves Americans, should feel ashamed for not knowing our great nation like the back of our hand. You taught us to learn the significance of all of this and I will FOREVER be indebted to you. You truly are an amazing human being. Jac Brennan, you are my personal hero.
This class has truly given me so much hope. It has taught me that if I work hard enough, I can accomplish all things. And believe me when I say that I worked my panties off! Thank you so much for absolutely everything that you have done for us. Thank you for caring the way you do. I know you tried to put up this “bad ass” front but we all knew that you genuinely cared for us. We knew that you wanted the best for us and above all, you wanted us to pass this class. Thank you for putting us through hell and never hand feeding anything to us. Thank you for never accepting anything but the best from us and for never giving us a “break.” We are better individuals today because of your no mercy attitude. You taught us that nothing comes easy, especially if it’s worth it. This course was so worth it and you were definitely worth putting up with for those two months. I don’t believe you will ever truly realize how much you have impacted many people’s lives through this course. I only hope to one day have the opportunity to show you how honored it was to have met such an outstanding person like yourself. If I don’t, then you have this letter and that should be enough …I’m just sayin’! Before I end this very long letter I just have to say one thing because it just wouldn’t be a proper good bye without saying it. Are you ready? Here it goes, “YAY!!!”
Very Truly Yours,
I want you to know how fantastic your program is. Your teaching method is outstanding.
Even though I was working in the EMS field for 13 years I never gave up hope that I would one day get in the legal field. I always knew the legal field is where I wanted to be. Even after all those years in EMS, and over seven years of raising three daughters on my own, I would find myself frequently browsing the web for paralegal schools or programs. I never gave up on my dream. Most of the classes required a year or two to complete. One day while I was reading the Houston Chronicle I stumbled upon your program. I was ecstatic. A paralegal certificate in a few weeks! I did my research and attended the seminar. The professor seemed pretty nice that day!
A couple of weeks later I was in class. The first question I asked myself was “is this the same professor I met at the seminar? She seemed much nicer then. She is tough.” Oh well, I am already here might as well make the best of it. It soon became pretty clear that I was going to have to work for that certificate.
I was really excited and eager when I started class. Prior students shared with us that it took approximately 20 to 30 hours a week to do homework. My immediate thoughts where “I am pretty smart, I doubt it will ever take me that long to do my homework.” Boy! Was I in for a rude awakening, and surprise!
Things in my personal life however where not cooperating. I started running into unpleasant circumstances since the beginning. Every bad thing that could ever happen that summer while I took your weekend class was happening to me. I was using my daughter’s new laptop. It wasn’t until I was finished doing my first Pro doc assignment that I realized the laptop didn’t have Word installed! It was the night before class, and there was no way I could get or install the program. Since I did not turn in my assignments I had to do the walk of shame to the hallway while everyone discussed homework. Another week I was so proud of myself, I had worked really hard, finished all my homework, and even had time to study for the test! I saved all my work in my USB, went to print my homework, and when I opened my files somehow they got encrypted. I almost suffered a heart attack that day. I was unable to fix them. I tried so many things. I had no choice but to go to class without my homework again. I was so bummed out that day. The list honestly goes on, and on of tragedies that happened while I took you class that summer. The last one I’ll share is the one where I was in my living room floor doing homework, I was on the floor because after so many hours of sitting completing homework my back was hurting. I finished my work, got up to grab a drink, and to stretch a little bit. I was in the kitchen for approximately two minutes, that’s all it took for my daughter to get on the sofa, jumped off the sofa, and land on the laptop! She didn’t confess. I opened the laptop, and quickly realized the whole screen was shattered. So much for all the hard work that week! I had two choices through this whole ordeal one choice was to laugh, the other to cry. I have to admit I did both.
Things after that just went downhill. My problems with homework were small compared to the personal problems I was encountering. We ended up losing everything. I had to stop coming to class two weeks before it was over. It was heartbreaking; I wanted to finish with that class. I really liked that group.
I had so many things to worry and take care of. But retaking your class was on top of the list. I somehow knew that the certificate from your class was my ticket to my future.
I know people close to me probably thought I was losing my mind. I’m sure they probably thought “why is she so worried about retaking that class?” She lost everything; she should be worried about getting back on her feet.”
I had no time to explain. In my heart and mind I knew what I was doing.
I was back retaking your class within six months! While I was retaking your class I was going through one of the hardest situations in my life. I never told anybody in class. I don’t like pity and I wanted to be treated just like everybody else. This time I was mentally prepared, I already knew what I had gotten myself into. I was ready for the madness. I actually looked forward to it. While some people looked forward to the end of the day, I looked forward to the next class. I knew that if I could finish your class regardless of the situation I was in, I could accomplish anything. I had no access to internet or printers while I retook your class. The people, at Kinkos, and Starbucks became my new best friends! They would see me in there every day, and what I was there to do. Towards the end they guys at Starbucks would even give me free pastries! I would drop my daughters off at school every morning, and make my way to anyplace in town that offered free Wi-Fi. I would spend my whole day there, and then go pick up the girls after school. As soon as the girls would jump in the truck they would ask “are we on our way to finish homework or print off homework?” They already knew the drill. Before the class was over my daughters were able to name all of the Supreme Justices! I would practice my oral reports in front of them. They never had a problem critiquing me!
Jac, your teaching style is fabulous. You are definitely my kind of girl, extremely intelligent, tough, no-nonsense, and independent with a heart of gold!
My goal for retaking your class was not only to finish it, but finish it with an A. After a lot of hard work, taking a lot of notes, recording all your lectures, studying, sleepless nights, and sacrifices I have to say I was proud of myself for being able to do so.
Thank you so much for the internship with Cathy Herrington Hale. She is wonderful. She is such a small, petite woman, with such big knowledge and strength. Cathy is a much respected family law attorney. I learned so much while interning at her law firm. It was a great experience. Cathy really taught me hands on paralegal work. Cathy gave me the opportunity to accompany her to hearings, mediations, and sit in consultations with new clients. Her legal assistant Karen Umholtz is awesome. She is very knowledgeable and did not mind sharing her knowledge with me. She was very patient, nice, and funny. We had a good time working together.
I graduated in mid-September. We were all told that job searching was not going to be very easy due to the fact that it’s the end of the year. Law firms usually do not do major hiring around that time of year. I kept a positive attitude, and mentally prepared myself. My internship turned into a part time/seasonal job. In early November I received an email from you regarding a job opening. You didn’t give details about it; you just said that if I was interested to let you know. I was in fact interested. I was ecstatic when I found out who the employer was. Even though I didn’t know the attorney I knew who Vanetta was. She had been one of my favorite guest speakers from your class. I emailed her my resume, and got an interview a few days later. I immediately told Cathy and Karen that I had an interview. Cathy and Karen were very supportive of me. They knew Vanetta and the Attorney, and told me what great people they were. I got called in for my second interview a few days later, and they offered me a job that day. Matter of fact, they asked if I could stay that day to train a few hours. I of course said “yes.” I was working full time by mid-November. Even though I had little experience they offered me a great salary. I even received a nice bonus for the holidays! I was very happy. Thank you and Cathy for the great references! Vanetta and the attorney were really impressed with the nice things you all said about me.
Your lectures make so much more sense now. Everything comes into play. I draft, and re-draft pleadings all the time. A girl in the office always asks me “How do you keep from crying when the attorney gives you the draft back full of marks, and writing all over it?” and I tell her smiling “ if you would have been in Jac’s class you would know!”
I have been working here almost six months. I absolutely love my job. I could not have found a better job. Vanetta and Mike are like family. They treat me very good. I learn so much from them. Mike has been practicing for over 35 years and Vanetta has been a paralegal longer than that. They teach me so much. They are extremely professional, well respected, and have an outstanding reputation in the family law community. They are so humble and down to earth.
My journey has just begun. The opportunities in this field are endless. I am in a place in my life that is full of hope. I know I am where I belong. This career is very fulfilling. There is so much to learn. I appreciate it much more because I had to work hard to get here. All I needed were the tools I got from you!
I have always looked up to and admired, strong, independent, intelligent women. Women I could only read about. You are the first woman that I have met in person that I admire. Thank you so much for everything Jac. Thank you for being a great professor, for not enabling individuals to fall into self-pity, and excuses. Most importantly, thank you for being an amazing, caring human being. Please know that thanks to you, my daughters and my life has changed for the better! You make a difference. More than you will ever know.
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.
Everything I learned in class I have put to use in my new job as a paralegal. The attorney I work for can’t believe I know the definition by heart of Hearsay, so well. Today I was granted the honor to introduce myself as a paralegal to Judge Lynn Hughes down at the Federal Courthouse. It was an amazing experience. I kept thinking to myself, this would have never happened if I didn’t take your class. It may have been one of the hardest things I’ve completed in my life, but so so worth it. I can’t express how grateful I am to have had you as my teacher. Once again thank you.
In my former life I was a high school teacher. I left a promising career as a teacher to follow the advice I had always given my students: find a career doing something you love. The U of H program didn’t promise I would pass the class. In fact, they advertised a hard driving instructor who would prepare me to work with demanding attorneys or send me home in tears. Eight weeks later I graduated with a coveted internship. A graduate from another of Jac’s classes gave me the lead for my first paid paralegal job. I still work there today. Without Jac and UofH I would not be working with two amazing and well respected criminal law attorneys, Celeste Blackburn and Judith Shields. With their support, I look forward to the next stage of my paralegal career when I take the test to become a certified criminal law paralegal.
I was a high school economics teacher for 8 years. I was a campus teacher of the year and a finalist for district teacher of the year at Aldine ISD. The following year I was promoted to social studies department chair. I loved the students but found some adult behavior intolerable. I could not reconcile myself with not being able to “fix” that.
When I was in my 20’s I had wanted to be a lawyer and worked with some international law firms. I wanted to get back to that dream. You know you can only tell other people to follow their dreams so long before you follow yours. So paralegal seemed to be the best way to test the water and see what lawyers really do. Turns out, I like the background work more.
Written in 2016
I graduated from the University of Houston’s Paralegal Program in November of 2015. Enrolling in the program was the best decision I could have made although, it didn’t seem that way after receiving some of my test scores. The program was challenging, demanding and exhausting, but I learned so much in a short period of time. They say “Time is more valuable than money,” this program was worth every minute of my time. My only regret, I wish I would have taken it years ago.
I learned so much from each of the speakers. I really enjoyed having them come in and give us an overview of the different areas of the law. Not only did the program prepare me for my paralegal role, it also helped me grow as an individual thanks to a great professor. Jac gave me confidence. I was able to work on my weaknesses and uncover some hidden strengths. She is very knowledgeable and offers a great deal of support to make sure all her students become successful paralegals. She wants her students to excel and that is why she’s tough, but she has a huge heart. Jac takes time out of her schedule every week to make sure her students are on the right track with their homework. She’s always available for questions, although she might answer with a question, but it’s only to help her students think it through. Some of Jac’s pet peeves turned out to be unforgettable lessons. She’s truly a great person and a brilliant professor.
It’s hard to believe that 7 months ago I was walking into Jac’s class both fearful and excited about what opportunities would come from the program. What’s even harder to believe is how much my life has changed in just 7 short months. Before starting the UH Paralegal Program, I was a receptionist with a law firm for 5 years. I knew that a career in the legal field was what I wanted for myself and I have no doubt in my mind that Jac’s class put me right where I wanted to be. Jac’s class made me passionate to become a paralegal. What I found to be the most rewarding part of the class was being able to listen to the guest speakers give a little insight on what their day looks like. I felt that hearing their stories allowed me to decide what area of law I would be most happy with. I remember thinking to myself how much I would love to be a part of a family law firm. After graduating the UH Paralegal Program, I found a job listing for a legal assistant position in a family law firm through V legal and the posting was from a firm that was 15 minutes away from my house. I immediately applied and received a call just a few days later. I’ve now been with the Enos Law firm for 3 months and I am beyond blessed. I love coming to work; I love who I work with and all of the opportunities that have come from being in Jac’s program. Jac has been more to me than a teacher I had for 10 weeks. I have no doubt in my mind that if I needed to reach out to her, even after having been out of her class for 4+ months now, she would be there for me. Thank you, Jac.
My story is a simple one. While working in different law firms over the years doing various duties from working office services to being the courthouse courier to backing up the receptionist and having file clerk/records clerk duties, I started paying attention to all the documents that were handled on a day to day basis. While I was briefly a backup deposition coordinator, I realized I could achieve more if I only had the proper guidance and learning. A simple search as to legitimate and well-reviewed programs that provided paralegal studies brought me to the UH paralegal program. Though it was tough going to work full time and then spending all of my weekend hours in the classroom and studying, the payoff was great! My job noticed I was staying late to study in the break room, yet continued to function in my every day duties. They let me know they were interested in hiring me as a paralegal whenever I finished, and with the skill sets I learned in the classroom, which I applied at work, and the guidance of senior paralegals, I was able to make a smooth transition. Currently, I am the second most senior paralegal at my firm, and have even trained others when they have come aboard our firm. These opportunities would have never came to me without the skills Jac Brennan and the paralegal program taught me.
Written in 2016
I am sitting here Saturday morning, relaxing after what’s been a long, but great week at work. It has now been 3 months since I’ve graduated from your class, and I have to say life has never been better! Taking your class was the best decision I’ve ever made, and it has changed my life completely. Your class gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed to become an indispensable paralegal. I look forward to going to work, and every morning when I arrive and get started, there is no doubt in my mind, that I am in the field where I belong. Thank you for being so hard on us, and pushing us beyond our limits. I can truly say that I matured and learned so much about myself during those 10 weeks the course lasted. The best part of the class (other than the obvious getting a job after graduating) is the lifelong friendships I made with classmates and with you Jac! If I had to take the course again (stress included), I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. It’s great to know I can always count on you, and I hope you know, you can always count on me too.
Kenia Henriquez had worked in the legal field for 15 years. She needed something to back up her experience, something that would impress employers. Experience alone might help you keep a job, but it fails to get you through new doors. Education opens doors. Kenia graduated from the UHD Paralegal Program in April 2019. She is currently the Director of Case Operations at Paranjpe, Mahadass, Ruemke, LLP.
Kenia says that the paralegal course better prepared her to do legal research. It reminded her to take pride in her work. It taught her about different areas of the laws, and how to research in Westlaw and O’Connors. it gave her a boost of confidence to deal with the different challenges that working for a law firm bring. It prepared her to work together with many different personalities. In her current job, she has to stay on top of the way the cases are running so organization and attention to detail are key. Her favorite guest speaker in the program was Vanetta Peterson. Kenia said, “Vanetta was my favorite because she is charismatic, has such a positive energy, and her presentation was informative and entertaining. I really like how passionate she is about the field of law she is in, and her stories of family law were great. Overall, it was her positivity and vibrant personality that made her my favorite speaker.”
Kenia’s favorite part of being a paralegal is being able to help people during their time of need. She loves following a case from beginning to end, doing research and helping the attorneys through the legal process. Knowing that she is a part of that gives her great satisfaction.
When asked who her legal hero is, Kenia wrote: “Jac Brennan. Meeting her made me feel that I can be a mother, head back to school, and eventually apply to law school. Age, or having a family, has nothing to do with achieving personal goals. I could deal with all those things, because if she can do it, why can’t I? She helped all of us feel empowered and that we could hold down jobs, families, and school and make it out on the other side. No excuses.”
Although Kenia has a glorious smile, a friendly demeanor, and seems like a social butterfly, she is really an introvert. She loves listening much more than speaking. In social situations, it usually takes a while to get her out of her shell.
The last book Kenia read was “Lead from the Outside.” It helped her to understand the challenges she might face as a woman, and a woman of color. She learned more about leadership, confidence, and the struggles we face in the journey to reach our potential.She is learning to manage people and she hopes to grow and use what she has learned to lead a team.
In terms of podcasts, she loves “The Moth Radio Hour.” Kenia loves people and their personal stories. She likes the themes and the art of storytelling. When she listens, she realizes that we are all living through the human experience. It reminds her, through the story telling, that living is both complex and beautiful. We all face similar challenges and joys.
While in the process of reading my Civil Procedure textbook (a subject everyone has told me was their least favorite in their 1L year) while trying to get ready for law school starting tomorrow, I find myself smiling as I read over very familiar terminology like motion for summary judgment, motion to dismiss, motion for direct verdict, voir dire, interrogatories, pleadings, direct and cross examination, and so much more.
As nervous as I am about starting law school tomorrow I am more grateful that I know the concepts of the law that you taught me during the paralegal program. It was tough 12-13 weeks but I will say the little confidence I have at the moment comes from what you made me earn. If and when I ring the bell at STCL to signify I made it, I know I will owe you an even greater debt of gratitude! Thanks, Jac!
I was working as a personal banker for several years and had met many attorneys and I was always interested in their stories and the work they were doing. I tried to make the transition from banking to a legal career and it just was not working out. I could not find a job that was paying enough for me to make the change because I had no legal experience. I started doing some research online and decided to attend an info session for the paralegal program at U of H. After the session I was really impressed with what I heard and took a risk not knowing if it would pay off and signed up. I can remember being very nervous about not being able to find a job, but I committed to it and determined to learn as much as possible. Jac is just fantastic! She is tough but she will prepare you for life at a law firm and I would have it no other way. She did a fantastic job of brining in guest speakers who were actual attorneys looking to hire paralegals. I am very proud to say that it was her connections with attorneys that lead to me getting to finally make that transition from personal banker to paralegal. I have been in my position now for 3 years and I am making more money than I ever did in banking and I am happy and excited about the work we do. I am so grateful for Jac and the knowledge and connections she provided. I tell people every time I talk about this experience that it was a defining moment, a life changing experience. Since completing the paralegal certification program I enrolled back in school and plan on attending the U of H law center. Thank you so much for empowering me with the tools I needed to make my dreams a reality.I was working as a personal banker for several years and had met many attorneys and I was always interested in their stories and the work they were doing. I tried to make the transition from banking to a legal career and it just was not working out. I could not find a job that was paying enough for me to make the change because I had no legal experience. I started doing some research online and decided to attend an info session for the paralegal program at U of H. After the session I was really impressed with what I heard and took a risk not knowing if it would pay off and signed up. I can remember being very nervous about not being able to find a job, but I committed to it and determined to learn as much as possible. Jac is just fantastic! She is tough but she will prepare you for life at a law firm and I would have it no other way. She did a fantastic job of brining in guest speakers who were actual attorneys looking to hire paralegals. I am very proud to say that it was her connections with attorneys that lead to me getting to finally make that transition from personal banker to paralegal. I have been in my position now for 3 years and I am making more money than I ever did in banking and I am happy and excited about the work we do. I am so grateful for Jac and the knowledge and connections she provided. I tell people every time I talk about this experience that it was a defining moment, a life changing experience. Since completing the paralegal certification program I enrolled back in school and plan on attending the U of H law center. Thank you so much for empowering me with the tools I needed to make my dreams a reality.
I first enrolled at U of H in 2009 as a communication disorders major, after a few semesters of being completely uninspired about the future I dropped out telling myself I’d return once I found out what I wanted to do in life. On January 25th, 2012 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Leighton Williams, which led to me deciding not to return to school due to the newborn I now had and the full time job along with an extra part time job that allowed me to provide for her.
Later in 2012 while working as a clerk in a Felony District Court, I was speaking with one of the Prosecutors and was advised that paralegals did similar work in the Courts but were able to be more involved and were paid better. I then began researching paralegal jobs as well as programs, and about two months later I decided to take Jac’s course with the hopes of being a paralegal for a law firm.
While I was in the course the District Attorney’s Office opened up paralegal positions for Felony Courts for the first time and I applied for the position immediately upon receiving my certificate. The transition was amazing given the knowledge I already possessed from the Courts combined with training from Jac’s course and since then I’ve received specialized recognition for my work and pay increases that I wasn’t expecting, and it all started with the UH Paralegal Program.
Written in 2016
I wanted to let you know that I just accepted a job offer with a firm here in Houston called AkienMears. It was my first interview!
During the interview I told the two partners how challenging your program was and how much dedication you have to have to complete the program. I mostly talked about you and the class and how much I learned throughout the program. Words will never be able to explain how appreciative I am for all that you do and for all that you taught us during the program. I’m happy to say they called me 15 minutes after the interview to ask if I would accept the job offer! I couldn’t have done this without you or the paralegal program at UH.Thank you for sticking with me and being patient with me. You by far are the best teacher I’ve ever had.
Thanks again for everything Jac. Words will never be able to express what you and the program mean to me.
Senia Campos was in her last semester at San Jacinto College in February 2018, when she was in a car accident that resulted in a long hospitalization, during which she was unable to attend classes. Ultimately, she was able to complete the online courses, but not her classroom courses. This caused a drop in her GPA, which then resulted in FAFSA placing her on academic suspension for several months. Senia did not want to hit pause on her education, but life did that for her. Senia’s sister, Cindy Brennan, told her about the paralegal certificate program, from which Cindy had graduated. For Senia, who had been planning to get a degree in computer science, the idea of entering a completely new field was as scary as it was exciting. She took the class, believing that fate may have brought her to the exact place she was supposed to be at that time. And she definitely believed that when John Nechman was a guest speaker. Senia said this about him: “John Nechman definitely inspired me to help people. He was genuinely nice and caring. I aspire to be like him one day. His expertise is helping so many people fight for their right to be in the United States. I’m glad he’s an immigration lawyer!”
The paralegal class was a challenge for Senia. She had two kids, ages 4 and 6, and she was working fulltime in an optical office. She pulled many all-nighters and was exhausted all summer, but she says that it was worth every drop of sweat and every tear. She thought of her favorite fictional hero, Naruto Uzukami, to help her remember to never give up, no matter how hard the road gets. Always see the light, even in the darkest situations.
She now works for Wade Moriarity at Crim & Villapando Law Firm. She credits the paralegal class with preparing her for the job by teaching the basic legal skills needed to be a paralegal, especially the language of the law. Senia loves being a paralegal because she learns something new every day. She gets assigned new tasks each day, and is never just doing the same thing over and over again. There is so much to know in the area of litigation and she enjoys being on the edge of her seat to find out what the next step is. I know she has a successful career ahead of her.
What a pleasure it is to write a success story about this course. I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice in December 2015 and began looking for a job as a paralegal, however, most law firms required a Paralegal Certificate. After contemplating for a week and attending the information session, I decided to take the course. It was the best decision I could have made for myself and my career. If not for Jac and this course, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This isn’t an easy course that allows you to sit back and relax; there will be plenty of sleepless nights, headaches and tears, but believe me, it’s worth it. After successfully completing the course as number four in the class, I was given an internship opportunity with one of the best family law attorneys in Houston. Cathy Hale Herrington was one of many guest speakers who spoke to our class. She IS the reason why I fell IN LOVE with Family Law. During my 3-week internship at the Herrington Law Firm I got hands on experience preparing trial note books, going to court, drafting pleadings, and updating pleading and discovery files. I was also given the opportunity to work with an employment law attorney, Jakki Hansen, and was able to review case law for one of her cases in federal court which proved to be a hands-on and tedious experience. After finishing my internship at the Herrington Law Firm in April 2016, I felt confident in my abilities to walk into any law firm and hit the ground running. I immediately began looking for jobs through Jac’s job’s list and other job sites. On May 20, 2016 Jac sent out a job post for a family law firm and I applied immediately. After my first interview and a few days of waiting, I was offered a job at Flowers & Frankfort as a receptionist/ legal assistant. I am proof that this class is worth it and that it can help you get to where you want to be.
Thank you, Jac, for seeing the best in me and showing me the confidence I couldn’t see in myself. I owe my success to you!
Winter 2016 Weekend Class
I want to use this as an opportunity to give you an update on how my life as a paralegal is going. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for investing in me in a way that has allowed me to excel as a paralegal. First I want to say, I genuinely love my job. I work in criminal defense and truly get a lot of fulfillment by being able to reach out to people who are at the lowest place in their life. I also love the thrill of being in a critical situation like bailing someone out of jail or discussing with a parole officer how a client did or did not forfeit their bond. I work mainly for one attorney, who has been practicing in criminal defense for over 25 years. I am his only full time paralegal so my job duties range quit a bit. Some of my tasks include calling DPS to check on our DWI client’s license eligibility, filing motions for continuance, taking payments, submitting applications for deregistration, helping file expunctions and even studying discovery to find important facts. My attorney is one of the few in Texas who specializes in getting client off of the sex offender registry list. A year ago, I would be appalled to even think about deregistration being an option for people, but after working with my attorney, I see a different side. He does his best to help clients who can qualify under very strict criteria, for example, going through numerous counseling sessions, having only one sexually related offense and passing lengthy physiological evaluations. The people that we help usually made a dumb mistake like having sex with someone who lied about their age decades ago, and because of the charge they can no longer get a job, find housing, pick their kids up from school or visit them at lunch. I enjoy being a part of new beginnings for the people that we help. Although I am loving my job now, it definitely wasn’t easy getting started. I had so much to learn, and my boss was anything but empathetic. Honestly, for the first month, he gave your big red pen marks a run for their money. I tried my best to not take it too personal and down the road I realized he, like you, was only trying to make me a better paralegal. Now, three months into the job, I feel more confident and comfortable than I ever thought I would. My boss has also been giving me a vast amount of responsibility, so I can tell he feels more confident in me as well. Again, thank you so much for being a part of my journey to this career! I hope your semester with you current student is ending well and I’m sure they will soon realize how well you have prepared them.
Fall 2014 Weekday
At the time I enrolled in the paralegal program I had completed some college, but did not have a degree. I had been working in sales for several years, and realized that I needed to transition into a more stable career when I was laid off in the summer of 2009. After doing some research, the UH program seemed like it would be a good fit for me – it was quick, affordable, and very well-reputed. I was instantly blown away by the caliber of the attorneys who spoke to my class, and by the end of the program I was already dreaming of being an attorney myself one day. Upon graduation I was placed in my first legal internship, which quickly turned into a paid job where I worked as a paralegal while finishing my undergraduate degree. In 2012, I began law school at South Texas College of Law and ultimately graduated in the top 5% of my class. The paralegal program contributed greatly to my success as a law student both by preparing me for the type and intensity of work that I would be doing and by giving me the substantive knowledge I needed to excel in my studies. All of the classes I took in my first year of law school had been covered in my paralegal classes, so I walked in on day one with an inherent understanding of all the legal concepts that were brand new (and often overwhelming) to my peers. I can’t imagine any better preparation for law school than the 10 weeks I spent in Jac’s classes. Today, I’m an associate at an AmLaw 100 firm where I practice commercial litigation. I’m so grateful to the UH paralegal program for giving me the tools I needed to succeed in my legal career, and especially to Jac for continuing to be a stellar resource and ally long after graduation.
Written in 2016
My name is Shae Dennis, I graduated from Jac’s paralegal class in August of 2015. Jac’s class was the best decision I could have made. Her teaching method really helped me and still continues to help me in my job as a family law paralegal for Jenkins & Kamin. Although the program was challenging, her approach to teaching, her assignments, and her guest speakers thoroughly prepared me to get the position I applied for. This program is amazing and so is the instructor!
Elvira says that Jac’s class helped her to prioritize tasks and follow instructions more carefully. She believes that Jac taught the class to think like attorneys and to be prepared for the demands of being a paralegal. Elvira had two favorite guest speakers: John Nechman, because she was fascinated by his explanation of immigration law, and Jane Vara, because of her clear explanation of the role and practice of a defense attorney in the criminal process.
Elvira’s favorite part of being a paralegal is the investigative activities involved in working up a caseand digging further to find more information. She hopes to continue her education through the Advanced Paralegal Certificates and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in forensics.
In her free time, Elvira loves to travel and she enjoys fishing. She also likes to read. The last book she read was See Meby Nicolas Spark and she loved it.
Elvira says that Jac’s class helped her to prioritize tasks and follow instructions more carefully. She believes that Jac taught the class to think like attorneys and to be prepared for the demands of being a paralegal. Elvira had two favorite guest speakers: John Nechman, because she was fascinated by his explanation of immigration law, and Jane Vara, because of her clear explanation of the role and practice of a defense attorney in the criminal process.
Elvira’s favorite part of being a paralegal is the investigative activities involved in working up a caseand digging further to find more information. She hopes to continue her education through the Advanced Paralegal Certificates and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in forensics.
In her free time, Elvira loves to travel and she enjoys fishing. She also likes to read. The last book she read was See Me by Nicolas Spark and she loved it.
Jessica Anderson sat on her HOA Board of Directors for five years before she discovered the Texas Property Code. That’s when she found out that they were doing some things incorrectly. She started studying HOA, and considered applying to go to law school. Ultimately, she decided to see what the legal field really entailed before making the financial commitment of law school. She enrolled in the Paralegal Certificate Program at UHD and graduated in the summer of 2018.
Immediately following the class, she earned an internship at Weston Legal and has continued to work there, in their Consumer Bankruptcy Department. She loves the place, the people, and the work she does. Her favorite part of being a paralegal is building client relationships. She loves people — listening to their stories and their heartaches. She enjoys knowing that she is doing something to make the lives of the firm’s clients better, in every way she can.
When asked how the Paralegal Certificate Program prepared her for current job, Jessica said: “There aren’t many skills that I learned in Jac’s class that I don’t use daily. My favorite is probably researching case law, but my job also requires meticulous attention to detail, thinking analytically about the needs of the firm and balancing it with the needs of the clients. I am one of the first people the clients come in contact with, so legal writing and professionalism are important with all my correspondence. I spend most of my days buried in a variety of paperwork, none of which I would have known how to handle if I hadn’t taken Jac’s class.”
In her non-working hours, Jessica hangs out with her three kids, works in the garden, is near water (which she loves), or baking. She also loves to cook, although she regularly sets the kitchen on fire.
Jessica thinks that continuing education is important, not only for professional growth, but also for personal growth as well. She enjoys CLE activities and plans to take an Advanced Paralegal Course soon. She plans to become a Certified Paralegal through NALA, and then start working her way through the requirements to be certified through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Jessica is a new HPAA Board Member. She loves being involved in the community and thought there would be no better way to do that than to be an HPAA Board Member. She looks forward to being part of the HPAA, watching it grow and prosper while helping paralegals to take their careers to the next level.
My name is Josh Lyles and I am a paralegal and Brown Wharton & Brothers, a medical malpractice firm. This class has helped me immensely; I went from managing a restaurant to working at a law firm within a 6 month period of beginning the program. The assignments I had to do in this class, as well as the skills it taught me have helped me immensely in doing well at my firm. Everything in this class has some real-world application, even if it doesn’t initially seem like it. I started my job with no experience as a discovery paralegal responding to discovery requests for all of the firm’s cases. There was no handholding when I began and I was expected to pick up on things very quickly with very little to no instruction. I probably would not have survived my first week if I hadn’t taken this class, as it taught me important legal terminology and a basic understanding of the litigation process. Within a couple months of starting my job, I got a promotion to being a full-fledged paralegal and I now have my own lawyer and docket that I am working on, in addition to responding to discovery.I would like to thank Jac especially for everything she puts into this class and her students. She is a very knowledgeable and practical instructor. She prepares her students for getting jobs, all the way from the interview process, to handling attorneys, to understanding legal theory. Jac is well connected and respected in the legal community and a great resource for networking and beginning a legal career.Even if there wasn’t a paralegal certificate involved in this program, I would still highly recommend Jac’s class for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in the legal field.Josh LylesParalegal**********************************************
Jac, I’ve wanted to send this email all day, but I haven’t had the time what with the new job. First, thank you so much for basically being the reason I even have this job. I’m not talking just about being a fantastic reference, but for being such an amazing teacher. Even though this particular job doesn’t really draw upon the subject matter you taught us as much as I would have liked, the fact that I was able to make it through and succeed in your class made me feel like I wasn’t as in over my head as it would have just a few short months ago.
With that said, I wanted to relate to you what happened to me today. After orientation and the tour, they put me with another file clerk to get some perspective on what I would be doing for the firm. His name was Kelvin McKnight. When we got to talking to each other he asked me about my background, and I mentioned that I went to school to be a paralegal and recently graduated. He asked me where I went, and when I told him U of H his eyes lit up and he said “You were with Jac, weren’t you?”
Turns out Mr. McKnight was also a graduate of your class and is, like me, quite an admirer of yours. We both started swapping stories of the antics of fellow classmates and your inevitable reactions, how much we enjoyed mock trial (he was best defense attorney for his class as well), and how glad we were to take your class.
You’re a badass in the teaching biz. Badass enough that two of your former students can randomly run into each other in a huge law firm they both work at, and swap war stories about how much they enjoyed the class and how much they respect you. It certainly made my first day much easier and much less stressful to find some common ground with a fellow coworker on the very first day.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.
I graduated as Attorney from Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina. I worked and gained experience for several years focusing in both private and public sectors including House of Representatives, international bank’s representations, civil litigation, and employment law. I relocated to Houston where I live with my husband, my 6 years-old son and my 2 years-old daughter.
I have decided to start a law career in the U.S. That goal has been the main reason for attending to the UH Paralegal Program. The program gave me not only the opportunity to network with excellent legal professionals but comprehensive knowledge of the Texas and U.S. legal systems that I could not access in any other way.
I am currently completing academic English Language certifications. Next steps in my development are to join the NALS, join the HALP, obtain the TOEFL certification, commencement of Master in Law degree, and simultaneously I would like to join a non-profit organization where I can sharpen my skills, as well as develop and apply my professional background. I would also like to study for and take the Texas BAR exam as a mid-term goal.
Written in 2016
Dana Durán took the Fall 2018 Paralegal Certificate Program at UHD. She was working as a Case Manager in Mass Tort, and wanted to learn beyond pre-lit so that she could increase her earning potential. Mass Tort involves a lot of repetition and, in Dana’s case, there was not much room to grow. Dana wanted to challenge herself, and find more excitement. She found both in her job at Sprott Newsom Quattlebaum Messenger.
In the class, Dana learned the ins and outs of what it means to be a paralegal. On a daily basis, she uses every bit of information that she learned in class, especially written discovery and the use of Westlaw. She loves the discovery phase of litigation, and being able to find helpful information – sometimes involving digging up dirt – on the parties so that the attorney can use that for impeachment or to show a history of repeated behavior.
Dana has dyslexia so she has worked very hard to overcome the challenges of that. She has lots of trouble with math, but always finds a way to solve the problem. Dana has to read things more than once, but she’s never used her dyslexia as an excuse. If anything, it has fueled her fire.
Dana is very politically involved. She has a message to everyone who has the right to vote: “Be a voter. Get out and vote for someone who has had that right taken away. Be the voice of someone like Crystal Mason who is currently incarcerated because she voted while on parole. Crystal, a convicted felon was unaware that her conviction and parole status took away her right to vote. No one should be stripped of their right to vote. We need leaders who are going to represent the people and the issues that our county is facing and, by voting, we can put those people in office. Our country needs to see impactful changes on so many fronts. Vote. Be the change. Let’s move our country forward.”
University of Houston’s Paralegal Program was the best decision I could have made. Jac Brennan is fantastic and an encouraging support system. Of course you learn the legal knowledge but you will also learn self-acceptance, confidence, and how to do your own work. Jac can be tough, but she is the toughest person you will ever meet. But still the best.
I had the opportunity to make lifelong friends, exceed in my work ethic, and my character. Jac’s course curriculum is exactly what you need to know for the legal field. I am able to do everything I am asked at my job because I learned how to do it correctly. The program gave me hands on experience through oral reports, a mock trial, completing my work and completing it by a deadline that was too scary to miss. The class taught me to be efficient, accurate, and timely. The weekend class was a wonderful experience, and Jac is an excellent teacher. She DEFINITELY knows it all!
University of Houston’s Paralegal Program provided me the knowledge I needed to get my job and be able to answer my interview questions successfully. I am able to get ahead in my job because of how much knowledge I have gained in the program. I am able to complete work assignments and projects on time and correctly. Being a paralegal is a wonderful experience; I grow and learn every day. This career choice is perfect me, and I am grateful to have had the honor of learning from Jac.
Thank you Jac for being the most kind, honest, and genuine teacher out there!
I’m a foreign attorney who wanted to find out more about US and Texas law. When I saw the Paralegal program information at UH, I thought it was exactly what I needed. We moved to Houston from Lagos, Nigeria, but while my children studied in Madrid, I lived with them and worked at a friend’s law practice specializing in corporate law. In Lagos, I helped with multiple immigration cases as well as import/export cases. I needed to know how the legal system worked, I’ve always liked to know what I’m supposed to do and how to do it. I was completely lost when we first moved to Houston and afraid to make mistakes, although I know the lawyers at my husband’s company woud have helped. When I completed the program and received my Paralegal certificate I was happy because I finally new what steps to take to solve any legal issue that might arise.
Jac is the best teacher there is, and she knows how to bring out the best in everyone. I can even say that I stopped smoking thanks to her, and it’s already been 2 years!
Our class was made up of people of all ages. It’s been two years since then and a lot of things have taken place in my life that have caused me to not remember every detail but I believe I was the oldest one there, although one of my classmates became a grandmother during the program. We also had kids who had just graduated high school, or so it seemed. Others worked at a law firm and wanted to learn more. There was a veteran who got the second best grade in the class and a recent graduate who after the course decided to apply to law school. There was another foreign lawyer, from Moscow, whose name was also Olga, and needless to say we all got along very well. Our group was great and we had a great time and learned a lot, especially during the mock trial, which my group won, it was truly a great experience. I would do it all over again if I could. For me, it was the first time that I ever took a class in English and everyone was very helpful.
I believe I’m the only one from the group that isn’t working, but that’s because of my current immigration status as I wait for a work permit. I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to work at a law practice soon and in the meantime, I’m taking other classes such as U.S. History and English composition.
Written in 2016
In 2016, Alexa Rivera was a receptionist at a law firm, where her duties involved organizing client files. As she was organizing the files, she would see photos, text message screenshots, and other documents. She began to read the pleadings to figure out what the cases were about. It made her want to learn more and be more involved.
She graduated from the UH Paralegal Program in 2017, and she’s already taken the Advanced Paralegal Certificate course in Legal Writing. She’s worked at three law firms: Leslie Wm. Adams, The Cromeens Law Firm, and Sullins & Johnston, where she is currently a paralegal. She hopes to stay at the firm where she’s working now because she knows there is so much to learn there. They practice in many different areas of the law and she loves learning new things. Her favorite part of being a paralegal is what pulled her into the profession in the first place — reading the documents that are part of every case.
When asked how taking Jac’s class prepared her for her job, Alexa responded, “What hasn’t this class prepared me for? The most important thing is never giving up. When my attorney tells me to look up something on the web or to draft something, I never just give up and tell him I can’t do it. Also, I can always tell when paralegals have taken some other paralegal program!”
The last book Alexa read was “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. She recommends it because, at its core, it’s about communication.
Alexa admires Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, especially after having seen the movie called “On The Basis Of Sex” about RBG’s early career and life. It really inspired Alexa to want to do more — both for herself and for the rights of women everywhere.
It’s been since 2009 when I took your paralegal class. Although I have not pursued a career as a paralegal your class has been invaluable to me in my present position. I work for an insurance company who writes non-subscribers workers’ compensation policies. Because this is not statutory workers’ compensation the employee has a right to sue their employer if they believe (not feel) their employer was negligent or was the cause the of accident. In my position, I work closely with our defense attorneys and taking your class was the best education I could have received. Before taking your class I didn’t know a pleading from a petition. In the three years since getting my certificate I have been able to read and understand the motions filed, understand the discovery process, and speak with some intelligence with our attorneys. It was your class that gave me the confidence to do my job and do it well.
Thank you for being so tough on us because if you had not been then I don’t believe I would have learned as much. I wish the best for your future classes. I know you’ll be just as tough. Best wishes for you and your family.
Fall Class of 2009
Jac, I want to tell you some good news. I accepted an offer from Yellow Cab to become their new Safety Manager. Although it is not a legal position, i will be working directly with their law firm on accident investigations. I just wanted to say none of this would be possible with your class and you. Taking the class opened up so many doors for me and exposed me to a world i could only dream of. You truly inspire me with your tenacious spirit and wit. I felt challenged for the first time in long time in your class. Your support and insights have impacted me in such a special way.
With much love,
Weekday Class Fall 2011
Rosalinda Martinez got her UHD Paralegal Certificate in July 2018. She decided to take the course because she wanted to further her career with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. A month after getting her paralegal certificate, a paralegal position opened up at HCSO. She applied and got the job! Rosalinda said that the paralegal class prepared her for the new job, in that it gave her knowledge that she uses on a daily basis. She said, “The legal terminology that Jac explained in class is now part of my job, and I know what they are talking about, with confidence!” She recently completed the Advanced Paralegal Certificate in Legal Writing.
Rosalinda said, about being a paralegal, “I enjoy the challenges, experiences, and knowledge that come with being a paralegal. In my new position, I am constantly learning new things and I always welcome knowledge.” Rosalinda was encouraged to become a paralegal by her husband who always believed in her and told her she could do it. She had the support of her mom, and of her six amazing daughters. Her wonderful paralegal co-workers and friends pushed her and were her biggest cheerleaders. Rosalinda says that she could not have become a paralegal without her family and friends. She’s grateful to them for their help, and to HCSO for the life-changing opportunity.
When she’s not paralegaling, Rosalinda enjoys cooking for her family and spending time with them. She likes traveling with her husband. Her favorite place to which they’ve traveled is Paris. She’d like to return to Paris with her daughters someday. When she sees how people live in other parts of the world, it helps her to appreciate her country more.
“Brett Kavanaugh.” That’s what Rosalinda said when asked who her favorite Supreme Court Justice is. I was very glad when she added, “Just joking!” Her favorite is Ruth Bader Ginsburg — “because of what Jac and my oldest daughter have told me about her. I admire RBG because she is an intelligent, independent woman who fights for women’s rights.” Rosalinda’s favorite fictional hero is Wonder Woman. She admires Wonder Woman for her strength and because she can do anything a man can do. Girl power!
My life is so different after taking your class, yet nothing has really changed but me. Along my 18-class journey to becoming a paralegal, I found so many dormant parts of my life that I had been missing…oh, and I got a certificate out of the deal, too. I have found so much more time in my day that I hadn’t been using. I found I had a fear of expecting anything out of myself, because I didn’t want to fail. I found out how I learn. I found out how I procrastinate. I found my intelligence. I found out that I am capable of living on 10 shots of espresso and two hours of sleep on the weekends. I walked in to your class thinking I just needed a piece of paper saying I learned how to be a paralegal to change my career. But I walked out with a bag full of tools that I can use for the rest of my life and they almost make the very important certificate that I was so desperate to earn seem insignificant. Your class is one of those experiences that no on can understand until they’ve have been through it with their own blood, sweat, tears, and study notecards. There were days where I was literally brought to my knees and delirious with exhaustion, confusion and frustration. But somehow, I pulled through. I look back and wonder how I pulled it off on the nights I worked late, was suffering from the flu, battled kid issues and combated printer problems. I found out, I’m a pretty tough person. I would have never see that in myself on my own. Because of this class I know how to spell the word “definitely,” I dream the definition of hearsay, I’ll push myself even when I feel like I can’t go on and I’ll never doubt myself again. I’m a better person, a better mother, a better employee, and a better human. Thank you for caring enough about me to kick me in the ass, inspiring me to be intelligent and teaching me to live my life with intention.
I graduated from the Paralegal course in November 2013. This course was a great experience for me and a big challenge. My husband found all the information of this class on the internet. One day he arrived home and gave me all the details of the course; it was one week before the course started. Fortunately, I was registered and the new adventure began.
I would like to share with you a personal experience that I lived in this class. As I said, it was a challenge, because the English is not my primary language. It was more difficult because of the barrier of the language. The first class was horrible, but I’m not saying this for Jac because I love her so much. It was hard because I could not understand what Jac was saying. Thus, that weekend I had decided to give up the class. When I went home, I sent an email to Jac, explaining that the class was so hard, and I could not do it. But Jac is Jac, so she sent me an email that said: you should not quit, you can do it. It is going to be easy. You only have to pass the test, do the homework and that’s it. Oh my God!
Jac gave me the exact words that I needed. Also she taught to me a big lesson of life. Nothing is impossible if you really want to do it. It’s hard, but not impossible. This course really changed my life and my mind. I know that this class was also a big challenge for my classmates because everybody worked very hard. Now I have a paralegal certificate, but this story has not ended. The next challenge is to get a job. I’m sure that there is a place waiting for me.
Thank you Jac for always supporting me and for your patience. You are a wonderful instructor and I desire that the students always appreciate the value of your teaching.
Thank you and best wishes,
Fall 2013 weekend class
Denise Castillo decided to take the UHD Paralegal Program in the Spring of 2018 because she was looking for something more. She was stuck at a dead-end job at a law firm where she was putting in a lot of work and not receiving nearly enough in return. It was time for a change. She says that the paralegal course changed her life. Now she has a really great job, doing work that is actually being appreciated. Last Fall, she started working with Jeff Diamant at Jeff Diamant, P.C.
When I first told her about the job opening with Jeff, Denise had been thinking about leaving the firm where she was working. Still, she hadn’t taken the chance to put her resumé out there. The biggest reason was the fear of leaving the firm where she was handling two departments. She did not like the thought of letting the firm down. However, she knew that she wasn’t where she needed to be. The job openings she found were good opportunities, but none of them really caught her eye enough to make her apply. Then she got the email from me about the paralegal position with Jeff Diamant. The feeling she got instantly was “Hell yes! This is it, I have to at least try!” Denise sent her resumé and cover letter for my review and we worked to make them perfect before she submitted them. She didn’t think she would even get to interview, but she got the call within a few minutes of submitting her resumé. Denise said, “I guess it really is true that sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage for something great to happen.”
Denise says that the paralegal course helped to prepare her for her current job. She has a better understanding of the level of work that her attorney expects from her and how critical it is to pay attention to deadlines — and that all words truly do matter. She became a better writer because of my editing and corrections of her papers and assignments. Drafting motions for her attorney isn’t difficult anymore. The course also taught her to read and review everything that comes in or goes out. Everything!
Denise is a true crime junkie and she’s especially interested in how biology, sociology, and psychology, along with other factors, work together to create a criminal. Her fictional “hero” (Denise is iffy on whether this character is exactly a hero, but she’s definitely someone to whom Denise relates) is Aubrey Plaza’s character of April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation. Denise says that April “is someone who tries to come off as tough and uncaring, but deep down she really cares about those with whom she’s close. She’s fiercely loyal and has an odd way of thinking. She has strong passions and convictions and is not afraid of taking the road less traveled and putting her own twist to it.” Yep, April and Denise have a lot in common.
I took Jac’s class in the fall of 2011. I had just graduated with my Bachelor of Art in History in May 2011 and had no luck finding a job or even getting an interview. I decided to sign up for Jac’s class on a whim, and it was the best decision I could have made. I had never considered the legal field before but I quickly discovered that it was something I really enjoyed. Jac educated us in a wide range of legal fields and I think that each student was able to find one field that they preferred.
It was not an easy class by any means. In fact, it was more difficult than any of my undergraduate classes because it was so condensed. But I worked hard because I have a competitive nature and I wanted to keep my name towards the very top of the board.
Now comes the “success” part of the story. I was able to earn an internship through Jac’s class. The internship was in the corporate/business legal field. When we did the corporate lecture in Jac’s class, I thought that there was no way I would ever enjoy that field. But I was very wrong. It turns out, the corporate legal field could not have been a better fit for me and I see it as a field that I want to make a career in. The internship was immensely valuable. The hands on education I received in two short weeks prepared me for what I was going to expect as an entry- level paralegal. The education that I received from Jac’s class stuck with me and was even able to answer a question of two that the attorney’s didn’t know the answer to.
I graduated Jac’s class on November 19, 2011 and began my internship November 30. On December 14th, I was hired by the firm where I had been interning. So even in a difficult job market, during a difficult time of the year, I was able to get a job less than a month after graduating Jac’s class. And all of it was a result of the class.
I have been working this job a little over a month now and I could not be happier. I have the “paralegal” job title which is great for someone like me who had no previous professional experience and my assignments are increasingly challenging. The education gained in Jac’s class and potential resulting internship are a great way to lay the foundation for a new career.
Fall 2011 Weekend Class
Anne Marie Ayson spent more than 15 years in restaurant management. She wanted a new career that would utilize those skills she’d already honed. A former restaurant colleague and friend had taken the UH Paralegal Program and loved her new career. Anne Marie decided to become a paralegal. After graduating from the UH Paralegal Program in November 2016, she worked at a small insurance defense firm, White and Shaver, PC for nearly two years before going in-house at Service Corporation International in November 2018.
When I asked Anne Marie how the Paralegal Program prepared her for her current job, she responded: “In so many ways. First and foremost, I learned that you’re absolutely capable of more than you think, and that hard work and prioritizing/scheduling will take you far! I learned how to actively listen and digest information, and then summarize it or process it in a way that gives my attorneys what they need to make decisions. I learned that taking good notes and asking good questions are the best ways to learn. I learned that it’s my job to be a detail person, and I need to be really good at that. I learned that you should ask for things to do when you’re new. It endears you to your coworkers and it’s a great way to get better at your job.” It’s worth noting that Anne Marie took the Paralegal Program while working 50+ hours a week and with two small children at home. She says, “It was the hardest and best thing I have ever done, and I am so glad I committed to doing it. It’s a life-changing program.”
Anne Marie has a culinary degree and loves to cook and bake. In stressful and high-pressure situations, she’s the person you want close by. She’s cool and calm in a crisis — although she does freak out when it’s over.
The last book that Anne Marie read is Becoming by Michelle Obama. She loved the book and she loves the woman. And speaking of women she loves, her favorite Supreme Court Justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Anne Marie says that RBG is the definition of quiet strength. Her intellect, character, perseverance, and work ethic make her a role model. Plus, Justice Ginsburg made the advancement of women’s rights her life’s work, for which Anne Marie is profoundly grateful.
Anne Marie Ayson
My quest to pursue my paralegal certificate started in the Fall of 2010 when I realized that I had to do something to push my career forward if I wanted to move any further ahead in my field. The economy was already in a mess and I had witnessed numerous layoffs within my company. At that time I was working for a national commercial real estate developer in its Legal Department. I was working in the New Development division of that department until the economy tanked and the layoffs started. Fortunately the company wanted to retain me so I didn’t suffer through a layoff, but I was transferred into another division and over a few months I realized I had hit the ceiling with that company and was unhappy with my current position.
So, I started researching paralegal programs and after much due diligence I chose the University of Houston’s Center for Paralegal Studies. I took the plunge, enrolled, got my student loan and started telling myself that I had made a good decision. Although I knew it would be challenging going to school in such a fast paced program while working full time, I was certain that in the end it would all be worth it.
Well the class was hard and by the end of the term I was mentally exhausted, but I managed to survive the class, graduated valedictorian, and along the way boosted my self confidence and self esteem. I quickly decided it was time to put the paper to the test and see what new opportunities may be out there for me. I updated my resume and my LinkedIn profile the week following graduation and was preparing to start my hunt. The day after I finalized my resume and was preparing to send it out to recruiters I received an unsolicited email from a local recruiter stating that she had a position she would like to speak with me about. Turns out she found me on LinkedIn. My work experience along with the recent educational updates and a strong recommendation from Jac had caught her attention.
I had a telephone interview that Friday with the company, a large telecommunications company, and received positive feedback from my recruiter before the end of that day. Within a week I had a formal in-person interview with two managers at the company and about 10 days later arrived home from work to find a UPS express overnight package at my door containing a formal offer.
I never anticipated things moving that quickly and especially didn’t expect such a perfect opportunity to open up for me so quickly after graduation. I graduated on March 13th and on May 2nd I was starting my first day with the new company, had better benefits and higher compensation. All that along with a position that will allow me to grow and excel in my chosen career field of commercial real estate.
I owe so much to Jac and the University of Houston’s Paralegal Certificate Program. Jac and the program boosted my self esteem and pushed me to move forward and take a chance on a new opportunity and not stay stuck in the rut I was in because I was too scared to venture out. It also gave me the paper I needed on my resume to show that I had not only the work experience, but also top notch training to do the job.
Thank you UofH Center for Paralegal Studies and thank you, most sincerely, Jac for the outstanding instruction and positive learning environment!
Valedictorian, Winter 2011
I have been working for Bailey and Bailey and Tom Liddell for a little over three weeks, and I cannot fully express how helpful the preparation I received in your class has been. I will attempt to express some of the ways that your class has changed my life.
I started the UH Paralegal program as a frustrated graduate student who was 2/3 of the way through a Masters in Library Science. I was frustrated with my graduate program and concerned about how the job market was drying up in my field. I started looking around for alternate occupations that would utilize my strengths, namely my organizational skills, my customer service experience, and my love of research. By chance, the Sunday after my epiphany, the cover article in the Houston Chronicle job section was on the growing number of jobs available as a paralegal. The article mentioned the UH program, and after doing some extensive research, I decided this was the field for me. I signed up for the program the next day.
The class was grueling, time-consuming, but it was also incredibly interesting, fast-paced, and provided glimpses into what life as a paralegal is like. I am happy to say that I earned an A and an internship in the class. I started my internship in December of 2009 with the Herrington Law Firm. During the course of my internship, I practiced much of what you taught us in class and learned many more things that I knew would be applicable in the real world. Days one and two included working in ProDoc, using ProDoc SOS, and calling a hospital worker to use as a possible expert witness. Days three and four had me writing a deposition outline and organizing a deposition notebook. I loved the constant change in duties and was all the more certain that I was in the right field and that your class had more than prepared me for the field.
Then came the job searching…I knew the job market was still pretty unstable, so my goal was to get a job by the summer of 2010. Much to my surprise, I found myself gainfully employed by the first of March in 2010. I followed up on one of Jac’s leads, to Bailey and Bailey, and Tom Liddell, and applied. I felt confident that my internship with a family law firm would be an asset to this small firm of family lawyers. Two weeks after applying, I got a call-back, interviewed with confidence, thanks to your mock interviews, and was offered the position the following week. The paralegal I was replacing also graduated from your class (see Tina Crichfield’s success story),so I was trained by someone who knew what the UH paralegal class was like, was incredibly organized, partially because of your class, and was an incredible wealth of information about the demands of working as the one paralegal for three attorneys.
What do I love about my job? No day is ever the same. This is a fast-paced office, mainly because I am the one paralegal, so I always have something to do. I get to apply what Jac taught us to real-world situations. I get to interact with clients and am actually the first person the client sees, and, yes, first impressions are everything. I am responsible for the lawyers finding the information or cases they need, so I get to utilize my organizational skills. This field is everything I wanted and more,and I leave every day thinking how much I love my job. (I also love saying that I have a job again!)
I told Jac immediately how much I loved my job and how appreciate I was for everything she taught us. She suggested I write a success story, but I told her I would do so after working for the firm for a month. However, one of the things Jac drilled into us, and something that is expected as a paralegal, is that procrastination is not a trait that helps you succeed in this field, or in life, in general. So, using some of the time management skills that were honed in Jac’s class, I budgeted some time to write this success story today.
Thank you Jac for the life skills you taught me in your class. They and the paralegal skills are already proving themselves invaluable.
Fall class of 2009
When Stephanie Paz started the UHD Paralegal Certificate Program, she’d already been employed by an international firm for years, but not as a paralegal. She’d work on projects in which she’d assemble documents and binders for the stellar paralegal team, but she had no idea about the substance of what she was working on. She wanted to learn more and do more. She wanted to know what it took to be the right hand of so many prestigious attorneys. She wanted to increase her skillset and her value within the law firm. When a paralegal position opened up, she knew that she wanted it and had to get her certificate immediately. She earned her Paralegal Certificate on November 12, 2017.
She’s now employed at Norton Rose Fulbright, which is an international law firm, with more than 4000 attorneys, and other legal staff, based in 33 countries.
On the topic of how the Paralegal Program prepared her for her job, Steph said: Jac has, as we all know, a method to her madness of teaching. At first, I could not comprehend why she chose to not answer simple questions, but I came to realize that making me work a little extra for what I needed would prove to be essential. Attorneys are not always helpful and you are left to determine important information on your own. Then you are to provide said information at unanticipated moments. If one word were to sum up what has most prepared me: Readiness. I knew Jac would not tolerate excuses and, although her multi-colored ink pens left many scratches on my paper, I realized that it was not because she was being tedious and nitpicky, but rather because, in the work force, and in assistance to an attorney, professionalism as well as accuracy is not only expected, but can make or break a project, assignment, or case. When asked to do something now, I ensure that I do my research, that I have all information needed (and then some because one question may very well lead to five more) and find a solution when any problem arises. Just as Jac expected us to find answers to even the near impossible and most difficult questions, your employer will appreciate it when you go above and beyond to do your job. I learned that you should always try to be a step ahead and never fall behind. I know that no class in my undergraduate career prepared me as much for my current role as much as Jac’s 9 weeks of torture – I mean, class — taught me.
Stephanie’s grandest desire for her life is to have a positive effect, in a major way, on someone else’s life. I want to be a catalyst for positive change that brings about a life altering moment for a complete stranger. Steph knows that one purpose of her life is to make a difference in someone else’s life. She frequently volunteers with various Houston organizations, with her sorority, Gamma Alpha Omega. She is always looking for more ways to help people.
Steph’s immediate plans include getting an Advanced Paralegal Certificate. Upon completion of that goal, she will prepare for the LSAT and hopes to get into law school.
Her advice is to never give up. Steph says that she stayed on the bottom of the board for the majority of the course and graduated in the Top Ten. Always keep pushing to be better in all that you do. The sky is truly the limit!
I just wanted to wish you a happy holiday season, and to thank you once more for running such a wonderful and informative paralegal class this fall. I feel honored and blessed to have taken your course and I am appreciative of the knowledge and confidence I acquired during those difficult eight weeks.
I want you to know that I am working as an intern at a small law firm in Richmond, Texas. I start my second week there tomorrow, so I am just getting my feet wet in the profession, but I know your letter of recomnendation was instrumental in landing the position for an unproven and totally green paralegal, so I have that to thank you for as well. It is now up to me to prove myself in this new profession, but I am certain with the groundwork that has been laid for me by your course that I will succeed.
So, have a great New Year, and may you inspire and educate new classes of paralegals in 2010 and beyond. You will remain a beacon of light and learning in my life and I an certain in the lives of many others as well.
Paralegal – Winter 2009
The word “challenge” became my favorite after attending this course. Moving from Mexico City to Houston two weeks before the course started, all by myself, with no friends, no family, a different language, and a different culture, definitely made it a big challenge. It was another reason for me to keep struggling for my dreams.
My degree is in Hotel Management. I studied half in Mexico and the other half in France. Even if the classes there were in French and English, they were not as difficult as this paralegal course. I remember when my classmates said that the homework was very difficult and they did not know what to do, my answer was, “For me it is twice as hard as it is for you, since English is not my first language.”
I have to say that there were many times that I thought of giving up on this class, studying for the exams, being aware of what is going on all around the world, studying every slide of each presentation for the exam, getting used to how law is different here than from my country, and learning legal terminology in English. I had so much information in my head that I thought that it was going to explode at any moment.
After all the double hard work, when I got the certificate, I felt double satisfaction and happiness because my circumstances were not the same as all my classmates. I still could finish the course with a good grade and even if I was not able to share every of those moments physically with my family and friends, I know that in Mexico City they were very proud of me, when they knew I had accomplished this paralegal course.
Thank you, Jac, for encouraging me to be a better person, to help me prove that nothing is impossible and that the only barriers that can stop us from achieving our dreams and goals, are the ones that we allow to come in our lives. It doesn’t matter where are you from, if you want it, you can get it.
Thank you for making me be a more aware and educated person.
Matthew Bawcom, who is on my list of all-time favorite students, was a college drop-out and had been doing retail and service industry jobs since high school. Around 2011, he decided that the service industry didn’t really have much in the way of personal growth potential, so he wanted to do something more. His mother and aunt had both been working for a local law firm for a number of years and his best friend from high school had become a DA in El Paso County, so he was surrounded by advocates for the legal field. As luck would have it, his mother just happened to work next to a paralegal who had graduated from the UH Paralegal Program, and who was kind enough to point Matt in that direction and, in his words, “It changed the course of my life.”
Matthew graduated from the UH Paralegal Program in June, 2012. Right after graduation, he started working for Chamberlain Hrdlicka, first as a file clerk and then, a year later, a legal assistant. A year ago, Matthew became a paralegal contractor for Chamberlain, which led him to his current position as Paralegal for MODEC International. His two favorite parts of being a paralegal are problem solving and constant education. He enjoys being given a problem that begins with his GC saying, “I don’t even know where to start,” and then being left to his own devices to figure out how to solve it. Either he looks like a genius because he already knows the answer, or he gets to expand his knowledge base through research. Matthew really loves to learn. He will be in the next Legal Writing Advanced Paralegal Certificate class.
All of Matthew’s immediate family work for the family business, an Etsy bead shop. His mother is a retired file clerk, his father is a retired businessman and mechanic, and his brother works for their parents while he works on getting his pilot’s license. Matthew got married a year ago, to Pamela, a wonderful woman, who is currently finishing her PhD in Statistics at Rice University. He also has a cat named Spider Jerusalem.
Matthew describes himself as a “huge nerd.” His tastes tend to trend in that direction. He plays games of all kinds, collects board games, watches e-sports, and plays and watches regular sports (football and basketball). He’s an avid reader and enjoys science fiction, historical non-fiction, and gonzo journalism. He’s a cook and love to tinker with dishes in the kitchen with his wife or play his favorite game of “what dish can we make with random leftovers?” Music has been, and always will be, a huge part of his life. He played brass instruments many years ago, and plays bass guitar to this day. He usually needs music in the background whenever he’s doing anything.
The best advice he ever got was from his wife: “Stop taking yourself so seriously and being hard on yourself.” Simple, direct, and still the best advice he ever received from the absolute best source for it. His favorite hero of fiction is Tyrion Lannister. Even before Peter Dinklage’s rendition, Tyrion was his favorite character: “the dwarf who towers over everyone.” Matthew’s motto is a quote from Frank Reynolds: I don’t know how many years on this earth I got left; I’m gonna get real weird with it.”
I asked Matthew if there was anything else he wanted to put in this profile. He said: “Yes, tell everyone to always bring the right folder to your meetings – especially if that meeting is with your professor and that folder is supposed to have your homework in it. Just a random cautionary tale having no correlation with anything that happened to me in the past whatsoever.” I’d tell you the story, but you can probably already figure it out—not that Matthew still cares about finishing second in the class, more than six years after it happened or anything.
Hey Jac, I just wanted to write a personal thank you to you for yelling at me and pushing me to do my best. You were the drill sergeant that I needed to kick my butt into doing the best I could and I appreciate that more than you will ever know. I honestly came into this class not really knowing if this was the way I wanted to go with my life and now I am thinking of law school. I owe all of this to you. You have inspired me to go above and beyond in life. Reading your family website and just reading about all the things you do and have done is just inspiring. I hope one day to be half the person you are. I know I ended with a preposition but I hope you forgive me just this once. I can’t believe the class is over. This has been the hardest, most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. You are by far, hands down, my favorite teacher I have ever had and I will never forget you or the class. I hope I didn’t annoy you too much with all my little questions or remarks during class. I appreciate everything you have taught me and I pray I don’t ever disappoint you. I hope that we keep in touch and thank you so much!
Maya Smith became interested in the legal field because she loves crime fiction. She graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, but discovered that it wasn’t enough to get a paralegal career started. Most jobs required either years of experience or a paralegal certificate. She graduated from the UH Paralegal Program in the Spring 2016 class. After graduation, she worked at Flowers & Frankfort before accepting her current position at Mokaram Law Firm as the NFL Concussion Lawsuit Paralegal. Her favorite part of being a paralegal is being able to help others who aren’t equipped to help themselves.
Maya’s favorite Supreme Court Justice is Ruth Bader Ginsberg (of course!). The Notorious RBG is an inspiration to Maya. Justice Ginsburg has achieved great success and received many accolades. But what inspires Maya most is that, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg began law school, she had a very young child. Still, during her time in law school, first at Harvard and later at Colombia, earning a spot on Law Review at both schools, she never gave up on her dream. There are times when Maya believes that it isn’t possible to further her legal career because she has a young child of her own. Then she thinks of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and how she overcame the odds. Maya knows that she can do that, too.
Maya enjoys volunteering and traveling. She loves spending time with her three-year-old son. And she’ll soon be spending a lot of her time studying for the LSAT so that she can go to law school. It will be an honor to welcome her to the Bar.
Jac, You made the class what it is. You made it hard. You made it worth taking.
Its sort of like what John F. Kennedy said in a speech about going to the moon. We took this class, “not because it was easy, but because it was hard.”
Lyndsay Castillo felt stuck at her previous job, with no room to grow and no prospects of finding a new position. She’d heard great things about the UH Paralegal Program and the large number of job opportunities available, so she gave it a shot. She’s glad that she did. She was in the first paralegal class that was offered at UHD, graduating in July 2017. After graduation, she worked for the Poissant Law Firm and is so grateful for the many lessons she learned there. She now works for Eastham, Watson, Dale & Forney, LLP, a defense firm that specializes in maritime law.
Her favorite part of being a paralegal is the opportunity to find solutions for each new problem that arises. There is always something that needs to be done and each case has facts that make it different from the others. She doesn’t have to spend a lot of time looking for work that needs to be done, which she loves.
When she’s not paralegaling, Lyndsay enjoys spending time with her son. He’s almost two years old so everything is fascinating to him right now. It’s such a joy to see him light up when he sees a water park. She loves the way he repeats everything from a YouTube video he’s watching. When their son is with a family member, Lyndsay and her husband enjoy playing games online, or hosting card or board game nights with their friends.
If Lyndsay wasn’t a paralegal, she would probably be struggling as a sales person right now. She was growing restless in her marketing position, and sales seemed to be the most likely way to branch out without additional training. She’s very happy with her professional life now. She’d thought about going to law school after completing the paralegal program, but she’s changed her mind about that after working for a few lawyers. She wants to concentrate on growing her family and buying a house in the next few years. Lyndsay has learned that being a paralegal is about being a team player — and being fine with the “support on the sidelines” role. Lawyers can have big personalities, and they are usually looking for someone to compliment that. She said, “This isn’t a profession for everyone, but I’m very happy that I’ve found it for myself.”
It is with great pleasure that I write about my experience with the paralegal certification program at the University of Houston. My class began January 13, 2008. I started a paralegal position on March 14, 2008, with a downtown law firm. I graduated on March 15, 2008, Co-Salutatorian, with an average of 101. With that said, I will tell you that you are about to have an experience that you are not prepared for. You will be amazed at what you are capable of doing, and you will be a better person for having taken this class. On this first day of class, I could not believe how much I did not know, or had forgotten about our government and how it works. Also on that first day I learned that you have to possess all the facts before you jump to conclusions and form opinions about a subject you really know nothing about. As you will read from other testimonies on the website, we all asked ourselves what in the world have we gotten ourselves into. This class will test you and you will be so surprised by the things you will be able to accomplish if you set your mind to it. For me, it took quitting the job I had, and studying and doing homework about 70 hours a week. Others I have found did not have to study that long, and they were still able to graduate in the top 10 of our class. You must be prepared for lots of homework, tests every weekend, and on top of all of that, it is important that you know what is going on in the world around you, whether it be at home or in another country. You are offered the opportunity to earn extra credits; however, it will require you to take time away from your studies. Sometimes you will ask yourself, how I can take 4 hours out of my day to sit in court to observe how it works when I could be doing my homework. This is just one of many opportunities you will have to increase your grade average. You will soon learn that by observing, some of the things you are doing in class become clearer. My advice to you is to start your homework early, go to mid-weeks, do the extra credits and study, study and study for the test!! The most important thing Jac taught me was how to think outside of the box. The statement that things are not always as they seem is so true. Be willing to open your mind. You will be pleased with the results. Good luck!!! Bonnie Battinelli Paralegal Winter 2008
“We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle How true these words ring, now that I’ve completed Jac’s class. Although I’ve worked in the legal field for several years, I still had a lot to learn. I had many struggles in the beginning weeks of class, some of them excruciating. The research projects were real killers. I had no idea where to begin, and felt like I was stumbling around blindfolded and bumping into walls. Paralegal Lesson No. 1: I now realize that it’s not unusual for an attorney to give a paralegal a research project with the only instruction being “I don’t have time to hold your hand – – just figure it out.” My research skills continue to improve today as I gain additional opportunities to “figure it out.” Another tough lesson for me was being required to be exact in providing my test answers. The answer had to be exactly what Jac taught in class, not some similar word I dreamed up later in my head. “Good grief,” I’d mumble to myself after seeing a big red “X” on my test question. What does it hurt if I say ” . . . the requests for admission are considered admitted,” when the correct answer should have been “deemed admitted?” “What’s the big deal?” I’d ask myself. Paralegal Lesson No. 2: This taught me the importance of proper legal terminology. What attorney is going to take me seriously, much less respect me as a paralegal, if I don’t use proper legal terminology? Thank you, Jac, for demanding that we repeatedly demonstrate excellence in the classroom. I’ve carried that over into my career, and it has become my habit. My successful completion of your paralegal class has earned me new respect from the attorneys I work with. The icing on my career cake is that your class additionally prepared me to take NALA’s grueling 2-day certification exam, which I passed on the first attempt – – a real victory for me! Paula Hooper, CP Summer 2007 Graduate
I signed up for the Paralegal program in a fit of desperation. I’d like to dress it up in a more flattering way for the sake of my ego and the reputation of the program, but candor compels me to tell it to you straight. I was miserable. I graduated from college in 2006 with hazy career plans and accordingly I received hazy results. There were job interviews that went nowhere and jobs that went in a direction that felt worse than nowhere. When I registered for the paralegal program, I was coming off a year of substitute teaching and I was yearning for a position that might offer a pittance of respect. (I can hear Jac laughing right now). What I thought I knew of the paralegal profession seemed good. I had considered going to law school and even took a sick enjoyment from the logic puzzles in the practice LSATs. I needed a job that both paid something and allowed me my delusions of grandeur. Law & Order and old episodes of The West Wing suggested an environment rife with opportunities. I showed up that first day with no idea of what to expect. Would the class be a wake-up call after two years out of school or would it be more like a 10-week Driver’s Ed class for my career? I’m pleased to tell you it was the former but without the anticipated humiliation. The work was challenging, but manageable. My classmates were a wonderful source of support and laughter. Jac was sphinx-like at first, but hilarious and extremely knowledgeable. She does a great job of inspiring hard work with a healthy amount of play. By the end, I was truly sad to leave the people who came to feel like friends and comrades. The class taught me a lot. Sometimes those things felt small, but have proved to be invaluable. I was extremely fortunate to turn my internship into a job and now I’m working as a paralegal for an attorney that specializes in Tax and Corporate law. I am extremely grateful to Jac and the program for providing me with that opportunity. I have regained self-confidence lost to years of unclear direction. I love my co-workers and I revel in the chance to grow into a profession. My advice for aspiring paralegals is to take a chance. This is a dynamic profession and largely is what you make out of it. There is a great variety of choices and opportunities. Be prepared to run into lots of different lawyer personalities. It helps if you are patient and eager to learn. Being a paralegal is often in the details. Thanks again to Jac and all of my classmates for a great experience. Good luck and Wrist Strong! Katie Manton Paralegal
I think I am testimony to your success as a great teacher. I am perfectly comfortable in this law office. I have done a telephone interview for a potential client and it went very well. It is a family law situation and I asked all the right questions for the lawyer to talk with the client. I can look at all documents and know what they are. I have updated client file indexes, added appointments to the calendar and more. You really prepared us to be paralegals and I am so grateful for all the hard work you put us through. You are so right to emphasize good computer skills as a requirement for paralegals. Although I have not yet had a chance to show off my skills, it was a big gold star for me that I came to the office knowing ProDoc. I go to work every day feeling that you fully prepared the class to step right into a law office and be an asset. I can hardly believe that just one week after finishing the program I am working in a law office, getting paid, and getting experience. Sometimes life is just good.
A year and a half ago, I moved to Houston after losing nearly everything I owned in Hurricane Katrina. At that time, I made a decision to make my life new again by seeking a new and more fulfilling career. I had heard about becoming a paralegal from a family friend, and decided to enroll in the University of Houston’s Paralegal program. It was just what I needed as a single parent working a full-time job, a fast track program that would teach me the skills I needed to enter the legal field. Not even a month after I completed the program, I had a great position with a well-known law firm. Jac was really instrumental in assisting me with job placement. I am confident in my ability to do an outstanding job because of the skills I obtained in the program. I am very happy I choose to pursue the Paralegal profession and would recommend the UH Paralegal program to anyone looking to do the same.
In 2014, Jessica Stillwell was working in the loan servicing industry and worked closely with attorneys from various law firms. She enjoyed the close interactions she had with attorneys and wanted a way to be more directly involved with the law. She thought that the UH Paralegal Certificate Program would give her a good experience and help her achieve her goals. She graduated from the 2014 summer class.
Shortly after graduation, Jessica had the opportunity to work for a large, international law firm that was based in New York, but opening their first office in Houston. She strongly believes that she got that opportunity, in large part, because of the UH Paralegal Certificate. The firm hired her to work as a Practice Assistant and she gained a great deal of hands-on experience supporting attorneys in various areas of corporate law. She did corporate paralegal work and assisted with ordering multiple types of certificates from the State, as well as assisting attorneys during deal closings. A year ago, she switched to another large, international law firm where she works as a Practice Assistant. She supports one Share Partner and five associate attorneys. She loves going to work every day!
Jessica recently moved to East Downtown and, when she’s not working, she enjoys riding her bicycle everywhere, as well as running and yoga. She also plays roller derby for Houston Roller Derby and has been involved in skating for three years now. She’s known as “Wicked,” which is a clever nod to her roots in Kansas.
Jessica counts herself very fortunate and blessed to have the job that she has. She enjoys taking care of people and helping others to be successful. If she wasn’t a paralegal, she would probably work at the zoo because she also loves taking care of animals!
Hello Jac, I am currently working as a paralegal for a Family Law Attorney in the galleria area. I am making a little more an hour now, but the experience I am getting will definitely benefit me more when the time comes to make more money. Without the class I would not have had the confidence to find a better job and have a successful interview. I actually went on two interviews after the class ended and I was accepted for one (this) position and called back for a second interview for the second position. I had already accepted this position when I got the call about the other position, but it sure did feel good to know that I was wanted back. I really appreciate everything that you taught me, Jac.
Ashlee Pitta Lima
I am so thankful to the UH paralegal program for helping me get a job at one of the largest, most prestigious law firms in the country. I had no legal experience coming into the program. Consequently, I lacked confidence in my initial job search. When I expressed my fears to Jac, who is a wonderful instructor and gifted lawyer, she gave me thoughtful insight, which helped me land the first job for which I had an interview. I am now a project assistant for a prominent tax attorney/partner at Andrews Kurth LLP. This is the law firm of my dreams, and I am still in awe that I am working here. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that I got the job two days before graduating from the UH paralegal program. Because of Jac, I am a tiny thread away from reaching my ultimate goal. That goal is to become a public law or business transactions paralegal at Andrews Kurth LLP. I love my job and I plan to stay at this firm forever! Everyone in the firm is so nice, and the added bonus is the complimentary food and drinks the firm has catered for its employee’s everyday. Thank you a thousand times over Jac for giving me the knowledge, skills and confidence to work in an otherwise intimidating atmosphere. I strongly recommend this program to anyone who wants to achieve quick and efficient results in the legal field. This program gave me individualized help/attention from Jac, I got to establish networks with legal placement agencies, lawyers and other paralegals, and the program’s curriculum allowed me to complete and understand actual paralegal tasks. The program is challenging, but trust me, it’s definitely worth your money and eight weekends of your time.
Project Assistant Andrews Kurth LLP
Allie Lartigue decided to take the UHD Paralegal Program because her Dad suggested that she would make a great paralegal because she is very organized and detail oriented. She graduated (at the top of her class) just four months ago, in April. After graduation, she worked first as a Litigation Paralegal at Ramji Law Group. Now she is a paralegal at alliantgroup in the Tax Controversy Services department. What she loves most about being a paralegal is that the work is fast-paced and deadline driven. Allie finds that time flies during the workday. She loves helping clients by being attentive and having a sense of urgency in serving them.
When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her son. She also likes spinning, Pilates, happy hour, concerts, hanging out with her girlfriends, and family time. Allie relies on her strong intuition when making big decisions. The first thing she always considers is her son, and what’s best for his happiness.
Allie is excited about all aspects of her professional future as a paralegal. She loves working at alliantgroup and, if you would like to be considered for a job there, contact Allie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alliantgroup has an employee referral program and Allie is always happy to refer a person who would be a good fit for alliantgroup.
I had been working in the Banking Real Estate industry for ten years when I realized it was time for a change. However, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time going to school or get out of the Real Estate industry. Being a full time parent and working full time I had to find something that could fit into my schedule. I decided to become a Paralegal and began looking at available courses. After I enrolled at another school (which I won’t name), I found the website for the UH Paralegal Program. The program sounded very hands on and interesting, of course, I had my doubts. I emailed my concerns to Jac and she was quick to respond to me and helped minimize my fears. It’s always scary starting something new. After speaking with Jac, I knew the UH Program was exactly what I needed. The Unknown is so intimidating, but you know what is worse? Regretting that you didn’t do something and always wondering “What If?”.
After the first two days of class my thought was, “What in the HECK did I get myself into?” There was SO much work and everything sounded like Greek to me. I didn’t know if I could finish the course. I adapted, went without sleep, and sacrificed a lot of things. I kept telling myself, it is temporary and will payoff in the long run. Mainly, I told myself – This is an investment in myself, to better myself. Who else can teach what an attorney is looking for in a paralegal – than an attorney? So, I hung in there and took it one class, one assignment and one test at a time.
Now, three weeks after graduation what do I say?
First and foremost, Thank You Jac for everything you taught me! You were a wonderful teacher and I loved every day of class. Thank you for being brutally honest with me and counting 10 points off my homework when it wasn’t typed in 12pt font (yes, attorneys really are that picky!!). I learned so much during the course that I don’t know where to begin. I loved the hands on training I received doing research, requesting/answering discovery, legal document preparation on ProDoc and preparing for trials. Thank you for always being available for any questions I had, even if they were dumb.
But more than anything, you gave me the confidence (that I so needed) to go into a law firm and tell them that I was exactly what they needed.
I have begun a great job at the Downtown firm Hughes, Watters & Askanase, LLP as a Real Estate Paralegal. I support two Partners and absolutely love the Firm! I am so glad I took the course and didn’t wonder “What If.” I can look back years from now and know that I made the right choice taking the course.
Jac, Thank You for everything you did for our class and for always being there for us.
Hughes, Watters & Askanase LLP
Hello, I’m a fifty three year old lady who was looking for a career change. I decided to attend the U of H Continuing Education Paralegal Certificate Program. If I can do it, so can you! The last time I was in a classroom was 35 years ago. In the beginning I did not know how in the world was I going to make it. I had thoughts of quitting but I’m not a quitter. As the class progressed so did I, with support from my family, classmates, and the instructor. I found gold at the end of the rainbow. It takes dedication and commitment to pass this class, If I did it, so can you! This class opened my eyes, ears, and heart in looking forward to my life changing career.
Diane Jaime Soto
Sara LaBeth was in a profession for 15 years and was starting to have some signs of burnout. After months of researching different new careers, it became apparent to her that, in order to transition into a new field and not cut her income in half, she would need additional education and training. However, she did not want a program with a curriculum taught by a revolving door of teachers who were not invested in the material or the students. Sara happened to find the paralegal program at the University of Houston and, after attending an information session, she knew that it was exactly what she had been seeking. She graduated in November 2016. After graduation, she had an internship with the Ramsey Law Group. Since April 2017, with Jac’s help, she has been a paralegal at Sufian & Passamano.
What Sara loves most about being a paralegal is using creative problem solving to find ways to help clients, who are spread all over the country and, in many cases, do not have access to reliable internet, communications, or transportation, through the process.
If Sara wasn’t a paralegal, she would probably still be a (somewhat disgruntled) veterinary technician. One of the things that most people don’t know about her is that she spent 6 weeks in South Africa after college volunteering with a penguin and seabird rehabilitation organization. She assisted with caring for an endangered species, the Bank Cormorant. The birds were in quarantine to prepare for a breeding program in England.
Sara loves to paint abstract impressionism. Her favorite artists are Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, and Cy Twombly. She enjoys reading and perusing used bookstores for older printings of classics. She plans to have an impressive library one day. She also likes to binge watch shows on Netflix. In fact, the only area in which she has a serious problem with indecision is Netflix.
Next up for Sara? She plans to take the ALP this year. Next year, she hopes to take some Advanced Paralegal Certificates to expand her knowledge of the profession. And starting in September, she’s taking Jac’s class on the Constitution.
The UH Paralegal program was such an amazing experience and has brought me such great opportunities in my life since. The program itself was hard work, yes, but I made some great friends and sometimes kind of miss it. I loved going to midweek (SO helpful!) and I had a lot of fun with the mock trial. After the program was all said and done, I got to find out what it was like to be an intern. The internship I had was with Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. It was sometimes emotional hearing the potential clients’ stories, and I didn’t get paid to be there, but it was DEFINITELY worth it.
My internship lasted for 6 weeks, and after it was over, I was only off for 2 weeks and then started a job – my very first job as a paralegal. I had jobs before, but had never been happy at them, which is why I went into the program in the first place. I had my first interview for my current job and it was the most fun I had ever had at an interview – EVER. I even told the attorneys that in my follow-up e-mail I sent them the next day. So when I got a call back for a second interview, I was ecstatic! At that interview, they told me they had it narrowed down to two choices and they would let me know by the next day. I, of course, had my phone next to me for the next 24 hours or so just waiting for their call. Then they called, hired me, and I started the following Monday.
I have been working at Shrader & Associates for a month now and have been loving it! I’m an intake paralegal and basically what I do is talk to potential clients to get their stories and pass those stories onto the attorneys. More than the job itself, I love the environment that I landed in. The people I work with are amazing and keep things fun around the firm.
Thank you, Jac, for everything you did for us. You kicked my butt, but in the end, I wouldn’t trade a moment. I loved the class, I love you, and thanks to the class, I now love my job.
Shrader & Associates, L.L.P.
Ashleigh Alvarado, in 2015, was registered to start college classes at UHD, but when she attended Orientation, she was disappointed in the campus and she especially did not like driving downtown. She decided that she could not attend classes there, but she wanted to attend college classes somewhere. She looked for a backup plan. She started googling different kinds of certificate programs and found the UH Paralegal Program. She registered 15 minutes later. It was the most spontaneous leap of faith she’d ever taken and she says it was worth it. She graduated on November 22, 2015.
While she was in the class, she worked as an administrative assistant for Scott Patton, PC. After graduating, she began interviewing for paralegal positions. She worked at Bingham, Mann, & House, doing PI work from the defense side, but realized that that work was not her calling. She was unsure whether she could get a paralegal job in an area of law that she would enjoy. She took a short break from the legal field and worked as an admin. But she kept watching the jobs that I sent out, waiting to see the perfect job for her. One day, she applied for a job with Jedediah D. Moffett PC, which is now the Moffett Law Firm, as a family law paralegal. Five minutes after the interview, she got the job offer and started working there on December 8, 2016. She’s still with the firm.
Ashleigh’s favorite part of being a paralegal is that she gets to help clients, especially when they are dealing with divorces and child custody problems, which are so wrenching. The firm she works for is very understanding and flexible. Ashleigh works fulltime during the day and takes online classes at night, through Sam Houston State University, where she is about to start her final semester. She will graduate with a BS in Criminal Justice in December. Ashley will be the first college graduate among her siblings and only the second in her family. But she doesn’t want to stop there. She plans to take the LSAT next year and hopes to go to law school.
When she’s not paralegaling, she enjoys playing with her dog, Teddy, and studying at Starbucks. She loves going to museums, movies, and watching way too many TV shows. She also likes reading mystery and crime novels.
One of my favorite questions to ask friends is “what are you reading right now.” Ashleigh responded that she had an amazing opportunity to study abroad in Poland for two and a half weeks in May. While there, she visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and bought the book she is reading now: Hope is the Last to Die: A Coming of Age Under Nazi Terror, by Halina Birenbaum. Learning the lessons of history is so important.
When I was asked to write a success story for the paralegal class I had to find the definition of “success,” but it wasn’t listed in the legal dictionary/paper weight that is on my desk so I guess there are many different ways to define it and it’s up to you to decide. I have only been in my paralegal position for less than a month so “success” might be a stretch, but what the class gave me that has benefited me the most is confidence. The class is very thorough and always, always open for questions, debate, and discussion. I believe that there are indeed stupid questions, but not in that class. This is such a broad field with so many different definitions of paralegal that if you don’t ask questions then you’re going to lack the confidence necessary to not only find the field you want, but the capacity to do the job well. If you choose to take the class then be prepared to work, but be prepared to enjoy and soak it in. This is the calm before you enter the legal storm. This is when those stupid questions aren’t going to get you “who the hell hired you” looks. This is when you find out you don’t remember as much about the judicial branch from high school government that you thought you did. This is when you memorize every Supreme Court Justice (trust me). This is when you wake up early every weekend morning and you try to convince yourself it’s going to be worth it in the long run. This is when you discover, re-discover, or continue your affair with legal aid # 1 – caffeine. This is when you start the rest of your professional life. You have come to the right place at the right time with the right teacher. Nothing to do except kick back, ask questions, take copious notes, worry about bonus test questions, worry about your ranking, worry about the mock trial, worry about how many absences you’ve already accumulated, worry about if the coffee will be fresh, worry about understanding Latin phrases, but don’t worry. It’s all going to be okay, just trust yourself to make that first step and just like me, you too can revel in the fact you did the work, got the ‘A’, and now have been employed as a paralegal for three straight weeks. A year ago I didn’t think I’d have accomplished any of those things and looking back I guess that’s my “success.”
Locke Liddell, & Sapp
Wow, what a start to 2008. I have gone from being a stay home mom for 5 years, to being a very important function of a law practice. Unbelievable! I started going to back to college in the Fall of 2006, unsure of what exactly I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Prior to being a stay home mom, I was an LVN for 7 years. The only thing I knew about going back to work was that I did not want to go back to being a nurse. One day in December 2007, I was looking through the job listings in the Houston Chronicle and saw an ad for the UH Paralegal program. I started thinking about being a paralegal. “Yeah, I could do that.” I went to the info session, which happened to be the next day, and decided on the spot that it was something I wanted to do. I told my husband, I know the cost seems like a lot, but it will pay for itself in no time. I signed up and started the class on January 13, 2008. What a first day! The class was full, with all ranges of people. It was a little overwhelming to say the least. But I got it in my mind that not only was I going to make it through the class, but I would be among the top! Of course I needed a ton of help along the way. I made friends with the people around me, and of course made friends with the teacher! She, after all is the best resource available! The class was great. Not only did I learn a lot about the legal profession, I gained some self-confidence that I hadn’t had in a long time. Being a stay home mom is very hard work, but most of the time I felt underappreciated, and unsure if I would fit in in the “working world” again. I really got a sense of appreciation and felt like I was really needed in Jac’s class. Not only did I get encouragement from my classmates, I got it from Jac as well, which was really awesome. After graduating Salutatorian of our class of 24 students, I found a job working in the family law area. I have currently been employed as a paralegal for 9 weeks, and I could not ask for a better career choice. There is just something about me and the law that seem to click and I am able to use all my strengths to get my job done well, and have the opportunity to improve my weaknesses on a daily basis. I feel lucky to have found a great job, through Jac’s help, that truly is exactly what I was looking for in my career change. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to take this course. If you are thinking about taking this course, just remember a few things. You must be dedicated to your career. If you are not willing to give 110% everyday (during the paralegal course and after), then you might want to consider a different path. If you are not willing to be the “right-hand” of your employer everyday, consider another career. To be a paralegal, you must be a go-getter, willing to take the fall when necessary, able to accomplish tasks with minimal instruction, you must be a critical thinker, and most of all be passionate about what you do. If you don’t have the drive to accomplish your tasks and goals, you will never be truly successful as a paralegal. I love what I do. I owe the opportunity I have in front of me first to my loving family and secondly to Jac. Thank you for all that you have done for me, through the class and beyond. You have been a great light in my life and I will cherish our friendship always.
Jacki Aguilar Paralegal Winter 2008
Tiffany Osmon decided to take the UH Paralegal Certificate Program to advance her career. She was working at Stress Engineering Services, Inc. as a general administrative assistant and wanted to work in the legal field. She was also in college at the time, taking 12 hours each semester in addition to working, so she was confident that she had the student thing down pat. She graduated from the paralegal program on June 26, 2011. She graduated summa cum laude from UHD with a degree in General Business (with a minor in management) in 2015. She’s been at Stress Engineering for ten years, where she is a Contracts Specialist/Paralegal.
She also works part-time as a wine ambassador (maybe my next career, but I’ll need more details like the amount of wine I get to drink) for Wine Tasters Choice. She pours free wine samples at grocery and liquor stores. She does that for fun from time to time. And because a fulltime job and a parttime job just don’t keep her busy enough, Tiffany is also the president of her condo association, Post Oak Crossing Council of Co-Owners, and she regularly volunteers for the Healthy Pets Healthy Streets event put on by Friends for Life and BARC.
In her free time, Tiffany enjoys traveling. She’s been to Mexico, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Belize, and Honduras. She loves immersing herself in new cultures. She also likes to cook for other people, and she’s addicted to reading. She’s fascinated by stories about mountain climbing. She’s read several books on the subject and has seen just about every documentary and film about mountain climbing. Every year, she checks to see how the Everest and K2 summits are going. Yet she has no desire to ever set foot on a mountain. Wise choice.
After graduating from college, I was still a little lost and confused about which career path was right for me. I had heard about the UH Paralegal Program, but initially thought it wasn’t right for me. After working at a dead end job for a while, I looked into the Paralegal Program again and now I wish I would have done this for myself earlier. I was instantly in love with the course and could not wait to begin my career as a Paralegal. After graduating, from the program, I found a job with great ease, and knew that I could perform my duties capably because of what I had learned in class. I would not trade my job with anyone because I love what I do. This program changed my life in a span of a couple of months, and I would definitely recommend this program to my friends and family.
Kristin Hummel, a Spring 2015 graduate of the UH Paralegal Program, decided to take the program because the online reviews were intimidating and she loves to learn and be challenged. Being challenged is what she loves about being a paralegal, too. Kristin finds comfort in being uncomfortable because she grows when she is in that “discomfort zone.” She hates being stagnant so she loves that, in litigation, she is doing what she loves — learning new things all the time.
After getting her paralegal certificate, Kristin moved to Dallas and worked at Powers Taylor as a med mal/PI paralegal and case manager. She came to her senses and moved back to Houston in July 2017. She applied for a job at Williams Kherkher at the beginning of July, before she moved back to Houston, and was called for an interview at the end of July. She got the job as a paralegal to one of the partners. Armi Easterby. She says, “Armi is one of the best mentors I have ever had. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to end up being Jac’s students and Armi’s paralegal.”
Kristin has three children–a 12-year-old daughter, a 5-year-old son, and an almost 2-year-old daughter. When she is not working or studying, she is devoting her time to raising them to be good people. Her oldest daughter wants to be an attorney. Her son is gifted in math and reading. And her baby girl is already a firecracker. They are her world.
Right now, when Kristin has free time, she devotes a lot of it to studying for both the LSAT and the upcoming certification test. When she’s not studying, she loves to dance, cook new things, and try to make time for her girlfriends. Above all, she loves to sing. Kristin says, “It makes my heart happy, and my children have followed in my footsteps in that aspect.” When her youngest belts out Alicia Keys or Etta James, it makes Kristin so happy, she could cry.
Kristin is working on a giant docket this year. When she gets overwhelmed, she repeats her motto to herself: “Just keep swimming.” And she does.
With the support of my family and friends, I took Jac’s paralegal course. It was the best decision I made. I really enjoyed the guest speakers sharing all the different areas of law. I have been in school and classes for awhile now and nothing seemed to spark joy in me. This course was the hardest class I had every taken and it was worth every minute. I found the joy I was looking for. I ended up getting two job offers right away and it was the best feeling in the world. Now, with a career that I want and can thrive in, I am on top of the world. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Jac and this course. My advice is to never stop trying. Always work to better yourself.
Hi Jac, I can barely contain myself right now because a couple of hours ago I was told I got a job! I was actually real happy that we did the mock group interviews in class because I had never done one before, but I remembered to answer my question and look at both people while I spoke. I am very excited about working with the vioxx cases and I think it helped that I did my internship with plaintiff’s lawyers. I just want to say thank you for making this happen for me because without the program, without the right internship, a good reference and telling me about Ad Hoc, I would have never made it. I don’t know how else to express to you how happy I am right now and how grateful I am to you. Thank you! Marisa Gillam Fall 2006
I had been working in the regional corporate law department at ABB Lummus Global Inc.(part of a very large, worldwide firm) for the past three years. I was restless and wanted a change and more of a challenge. I happened to hear of the UH Paralegal class and decided that it would be an opportunity for me to find a better job. I enrolled. Upon going to work on Monday morning after the second weekend session of class, I happened to ride the elevator up with a senior officer of the company who asked how I had been doing and I mentioned that I was taking the paralegal course at UH and praising its benefits. A couple of hours later I got a phone call and by the end of the day I had a new job as a paralegal, a big raise in pay and they paid for the course because they didn’t want to lose me!!!! What a win-win for me, thanks to the UH course and its instructors, I didn’t even have to look for a job to use my new skills. I love my new position and have new and interesting challenges every day. The course provided me with new knowledge and materials and I had the privilege of learning from experienced professionals in the field.
Devan Bullock got her UH Paralegal Certificate in March 2016. She decided to take the course because she had been working as a receptionist and she was intrigued by legal work. A friend who had taken the UH Paralegal Program told Devan that taking the class was the best decision she had ever made for herself. Devan decided to pursue a paralegal career by enrolling in the class. Shortly after she got her certificate, she got a job at Radcliffe Bobbitt Adams Polley PLLC, where she still works.
Devan’s favorite part of being a paralegal is that every day provides a new challenge, as well as an opportunity learn something new. She also loves that she has met some amazing people who share her passion for working in the legal field.
Devan’s family – her husband, son, daughter, and two beagles – are her focus when she’s not working. She enjoys the beach, new adventures, reading, singing, and drinking wine (which she rightly counts as a hobby). If she could go back in time to give some advice to her 12-year-old self, Devan says that it would be the same advice she plans to give her kids when they are twelve: Keep moving forward and don’t dwell on things that are out of your control. Find a hobby. Find something that you are passionate about and get lost in it. Don’t worry about relationships; focus on school.
That’s good advice for every age.
Jac, If you told me 6 months ago that in just a few months I would have a new career at a law firm I probably would not have believed you. If you told me I was going to make more money and work Monday thru Friday, 8-5, I would have laughed and said, “I wish!” Oh, but how my life changed so quickly! After enrolling your Paralegal class, I realized that I set the course of my legal career! Your course not only teahces what you need to know, but what you should know! You are truly a remarkable person and you give so much of yourself to those who surround you, including your students! I would recommend your course (and it is just that, “your” course- it definitely would not be the same without you) to anyone who wants to enter the legal field. Thank you for your knowledge and expertise! Sincerely,
Marie El Attar
As my husband’s army career was coming to an end I knew I had to get a job. I had graduated from college 3 years earlier but I was a stay-at-home mom. All the careers I envisioned as a teenager and in my first years of college were suddenly not nearly as exciting as being around to see my babies grow up. I set out to find a career that would allow me to provide for my family but not keep me away from them too much. After many hours of research I decided to become a paralegal. I found the UH class and signed up. I was so excited at the prospect of a real career and people pumped me up with comments about how employers would be chasing after me since I had a degree to go with my certificate. I quickly discovered that that was not the case. I had no job experience whatsoever and that turned people off (imagine that?). I resigned to the belief that I would have to start at the bottom and work my way up to paralegal status. I applied for filing clerk, legal secretary, law library clerk, etc. but not one of those people called me in for an interview. As luck would have it, the one place that did call me was Texas Childrens Hospital. It took 2 long months (and a lot of kudos from Jac) but I got the job. Now, here I sit, with a job that I love at place that is all about helping kids! I am truly grateful to Jac for all that she did and does for her students. She genuinely cares for each and every one of us and it shows. Thanks Jac and good luck to all the future paralegals!
Erwin Ulin graduated from the paralegal program in the summer of 2015. After he completed his internship, he found a paralegal position at Bingham Mann & House, where he continues to work.
I asked Erwin several questions, which you can read below, along with his answers.
What made you decide to take the paralegal class?
I wish there was a clear cut answer for this but there were a lot of factors. I was working as a full time manager at a downtown theater and needed to figure out something that would provide me with a living wage. I had gone from University of St. Thomas to the University of Houston, going from a pre-med to a creative writing program. I wanted to challenge myself in a new way and I had come across the class on the University of Houston website. It was about a year before I went to the information/registration meeting. I was torn between seeking a creative career and seeking something that could be less of a risk. My boyfriend, now husband, was really supportive in whatever I was going to decide. It all came down to when I finally met Jac Brennan – I was convinced I should take the class after that meeting.
What is your favorite part of being a paralegal?
I would have to answer this in two parts. As to the part about being a paralegal, my favorite part is that it could truly be a lifelong career. I love Disney and not too long ago there was an IP Paralegal position available in Burbank, CA for their Marvel Studios department. I know that at this time, I am under qualified but it definitely gives me the hope that I can one day join my work and hobbies in a wonderful way.
The reason I needed to answer this in two parts is because I wanted to mention the freedom being a paralegal has given me. I am working hard so I can get yearly salary increases. I have the weekends and evenings to spend with family and friends. My health insurance is covered and I have 16 days of PTO. I am so very grateful. I know not all firms do this and I know some firms do more but this works well for me.
Tell me about your family.
I married a wonderful man, Rob Arcos, back in March. We have three beautiful dogs –Allister, Broadway and Jolene. My mother, Maria, is from Mexico and my father, Ervin, is from Guatemala. I am a proud first generation American. I have three sisters, two older and one younger who is about to graduate high school. Rob and I have many nieces and nephews so playing the role of the gay, progressive uncles has been lots of fun.
When you’re not paralegaling, what do you enjoy doing?
Rob and I connected over our love of film. It is a huge part of our life. We go to the movie theater at least once a week, we go to opening night screenings, we go to all the film festivals Houston offers and we stay up for hours discussing the art. We also try to plan a trip to Disney twice a year.
We have worked hard to make our home a welcoming space where we can host movie nights, karaoke/dance parties, games nights or just any excuse to invite friends and family over and not have to leave the pups.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given?
I recently ran into my cousin at the “March for Our Lives” rally downtown. She mentioned how her daughter is entering her senior year of high school and doesn’t really know what study once in college and has been stressing about it. I told her there are many people that grow up to become what they always wanted; but some of us, instead, just grow up. We figure it out as we go. Finding a study or career path isn’t natural to everyone and it is okay to take your time.
I think hearing something like that when I was entering my senior year of high school would have helped, and I think hearing it from me, helped my cousin talk to her daughter.
Do you have a motto?
I don’t really have a motto; but if I ever need inspiration, I just dive through Beyoncé’s performance catalog and find the motivation I need to get whatever needs to be done, done.
I began working for two corporate attorneys a year ago with the condition that I take a paralegal certification class. No problem, right? I had the same reasoning as Kinky Friedman, a former (not elected) candidate for state governor (Paralegal, “how hard could it be?”). After researching the internet for courses offered here in Houston, I decided to attend an information session for the University of Houston Paralegal Certificate Program. At that time I was introduced to the attorney who would be teaching the class, Jac Brennan. Jac was very personable and her bohemian appearance that day made me think the class would be very laid back and undemanding. I thought that as long as I memorized the names of the Justices of the Supreme Court things would be rather simple. I signed up right then and there. I had no idea how much my life would change for the next two months. Jac’s classes were a tad more difficult than I thought they would be. In fact, after the first few weekends I felt like I was running in a swamp. I never had to learn so much in so short a period of time! It was tough, but very rewarding. This class taught me the skills needed to be a paralegal. Along with that, I also have the confidence in myself to complete whatever task I am given at work. After graduating from the class last July, I made the decision to sign up for the National Association of Legal Assistants CLA/CP exam to be given in November. Because of the things learned in Jac’s class, and with just a bit more study, I passed the examination on the first try! I am very proud of this accomplishment as there were paralegals with many years of experience that took this test and were unable to pass the first time. I credit taking the University of Houston Paralegal Certificate Program and the things I learned from Jac Brennan for helping me to accomplish my goals. Thank you, Jac!
Gayle Carpenter, CP
Member, State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division
I just wanted to thank you so much for forwarding these job openings. As for the internship, watching Cathy Herrington work in the court room and getting a closer look at the day to day operations she does is really amazing. Over the last week, I’ve realized Prodoc is everywhere in the courthouse and it’s been used for most of the documents I’ve read. I had no idea that it was this widely used. In addition, at her hearing last Friday, it was great to see her cite a case previously made in Corpus Christi, and then present that ruling to the judge to support her client. I had never before known just how those cases would be presented and I now have a much better idea of it works. Cheyenne and I also got to the chance to speak with Cathy’s client and after hearing him tell a little of his story, it was really gratifying to know that Cathy would be helping him and making such a huge difference in his life. Overall this has been a wonderful experience seeing all these pieces tie together. I think I’ve finally found what I want to do, and am truly grateful to your class and especially to you.
How many states have you visited? Amy Duren has been to 45 of them! She’s a fan of Renaissance Festivals. She enjoys bowling, softball, crafting, and reading. Her favorite book series is the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.
Amy started working as a receptionist at Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC and fell in love with legal work. That prompted her to take the UHD Paralegal Program, from which she graduated in November 2017. Class 56! Amy was able to stay at the same firm where she was a receptionist. Her favorite part of being a paralegal is listening to all the different stories about the personal situations of clients and helping to figure out how the law can help them.
The best advice she’s ever gotten was from her mom: Good things come to those who wait. Great things come to those who get off their asses and make it happen.
I don’t think there is anything that I could ever write in an email that could sufficiently convey how much this class has meant to me, but I’ll give it a try anyway. I took this class because I needed to find a quick way into a new job – not a career, but just a job. The last several years have really been a stream of setbacks for me. Constant medical problems have forced me to put my education on hold, and after enrolling in and subsequently having to withdraw completely from my last three semesters, I had come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t so much “on hold” as it was just not meant to be. I came into this class with the mindset that I can do anything for two months, and while maybe this wasn’t a part of my original plan, at least I would walk away from it with a marketable skill set and a stable job. My mindset has changed. Finishing this class is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I don’t look back on it and think “I can do anything for two months,” but more “if I can survive Jac Brennan’s class, I can do whatever the hell I set my mind to.” This class was hard. It demanded so much of my time and energy and it completely and totally dominated the last nine weeks of my life. I really have to thank you for making such a difficult, demanding curriculum so completely fascinating. No other person could have made that class what you made it. Even on the nights that I never made it to bed because I was studying, feeling like a truck hit me because I was sick, and just wanting to cry because it was all too much and too hard, I couldn’t imagine missing class the next morning for fear that I would miss out on what you had to say. As much as I may have wanted to stay in bed and go back to sleep (and I did), I always wanted to come to class more. No other teacher could have done that for us. Thank you for making it fun. Thank you for loving The Daily Show as much as I do, so I didn’t have to feel guilty for not studying that one hour a night. Thank you for making sure I knew my shortcomings, without ever making me feel stupid. Thank you for putting our names on that board – it drove me crazy, but also drove me to do my best. And of course, thank you for sharing my strange love of all things peanut butter. Because of you, I am walking away from this with not only the skill set that I had hoped for when I enrolled in the class and more legal knowledge than I thought could safely be crammed into my brain in such a short time span, but also the motivation to keep learning (even when I want to quit), the determination to do the best job that I can at whatever task is in front of me, and more confidence in myself than I think I have ever had. You Rock.
Jac, I wanted to thank you for teaching us just a sample of your vast knowledge about our legal system. I have learned so many different things in your class. I have grown both physically (I think I gained 10 lbs.), mentally, and intellectually. I understand more about how the legal system works and how it is the best system in the world. I learned how to spell definitely, learned world leaders (got to say I didn’t learn them all), and of course the meaning of hearsay. Most of all I learned how to be more efficient, detailed, and aware in all the things that I do, whether it is personal or professional. I was skeptical coming into this class thinking, I can’t believe I just spent $4,000 for a 9 week course and what can they teach me in that amount of time. Well I’m not skeptical now. You got it all in and then some. Our heads were spinning from beginning to end but in the end we did what we set out to do. I hope that we can make you proud to have taught us. If you didn’t do anything for us, you asked for and expected the best out of us. My plan is to go into the corporate sector to apply the training and knowledge that you gave me. I believe that I will get the job and career that I have been looking to achieve for so long. I will not miss the homework, the tests, or not having weekends, but I will however miss the people of this class. I have developed a lot of friends and contacts in this class and I have you to thank for that. I believe that most of us will be friends for many years to come no matter where we end up in our careers. We banded together to get through this class and we will band together to help each other in our respective careers. I don’t think that you will have to worry about us, we will be just fine. I just hope that I live up to the expectations that you for me and the expectations that I have for myself.
I was working as a gaschromatograghy-mass-spec analyst for an environmental laboratory in Houston, Texas. I was working horrible hours and making minimal pay. I found the University of Houston paralegal program in the Sunday edition of the Houston Chronicle. Little did I realize how this program would change the course of my life and my future. After completing the program I have more confidence in myself and my abilities. I now work for a large law firm in Downtown Houston that focuses on insurance litigation and personal injury defense. I am the paralegal for the managing partner as well as the paralegal for four other attorneys. I love my job. I have great hours, great pay, and benefits. It can be very difficult at times, but it is always challenging and rewarding. My advice to those of you who are in the program now or are looking to join, always have faith in you abilities and remember, the job opportunities are endless once you complete the program.
It’s much easier to just do the right thing. That’s the best advice Jill Phillips ever got and it came from her grandmother.
Jill was a court reporter for many years and, although she wanted a change, she definitely wanted to stay in the legal field. She researched paralegal programs and decided to take the UH program because it had great reviews and the expedited time frame appealed to her. She graduated from the program in June 2014. After graduation, she worked for Weston Legal and the Mostyn Law Firm. Since 2015, she has worked as the litigation paralegal for corporate counsel at Service Corporation International. What she loves most about being a paralegal is communicating with both the corporate counsel and outside counsel. She always keeps her ears open, trying to absorb and learn as much as she can.
When she’s not working, she enjoys running in the park, seeing movies and live music concerts, having dinner with friends, seeing her family, and reading. She’s infatuated with true crime stories — so much so that she thought about becoming a detective.
Jill loves her family, especially her three teenage nephews. She’s also crazy about her two cats, Marsha and Max. Jill’s love for animals extends beyond her own pets. Her dream is to one day own enough land that she can rescue, and provide for, many animals in need.
Never forget why you started. That’s Jess Irey’s motto. She started taking the Paralegal Program in 2013 because she had always been interested in the law and was looking for a new challenge. The Program was the right choice because she learned a lot about the law and was consistently challenged. After becoming a paralegal, Jess worked for Crest Investment Company and is now with McKinsey & Company. Her favorite part of being a paralegal is investigating and finding those little nuggets of information that no one thought could ever be found. She loves getting her hands dirty.
When Jess is not getting her hands dirty as a paralegal, she loves spending time with her Chiweenie, Nico. She enjoys trying out new restaurants with friends (just don’t try to make her eat an avocado), reading (her favorite book is The Kite Runner), and yoga. The best advice she ever got was from her former boss: Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. That’s good advice and I would add: Even if your voice shakes.
You have had such a huge impact in my life. To be honest, yes, there have been times I have been frustrated with certain things you have said and grades you have given, but I realize that they were due to my mistakes and you were simply being a good teacher to help change your students for the better. Now that this class is coming to an end, I just want to say how much I appreciate you in my life. Thank you for being an important part of my life. It’s what I needed to grow. I will never forget your influence.
Winter 2009 Class
Jac, I would like to thank you for teaching our class. When I first started the paralegal course in January I had no idea how much work would be involved. However, through the course of this class I definitely can say I have learned a lot and feel prepared to begin my new career as a paralegal. I know that teaching these classes can be demanding but the work that you do is very appreciated. To be able to learn from an attorney and hear from all of the wonderful guest speakers was invaluable. Through the guest speakers I was able to learn things that would be expected of me that were not in our textbooks. Also, Jane and James were great teachers, bringing us different perspectives from the individual fields of law they each practiced. This class offered me so much and I am extremely grateful for it.
I came to Jac Brennan and the UH Paralegal Certificate Program in hopes of securing my economic future as the mother of an up-and-coming college student. What I found was an environment in which Jac pushed me to excel academically and dared me to better understand the world around me from not just a legal perspective but a global viewpoint as well. The constant and instant feedback Jac provides her students demands prudent preparation and determined discipline in order to take full advantage of her Socratic style of teaching. The work ethic Jac cultivates in her students reaches far beyond her classroom. For me, it has meant the courage to envision a new economic future for myself that includes my own independent contracting business. I am proud to say that because of Jac’s extensive connections in the legal community, I was introduced to NALS…National Association of Legal Professionals, of which I am now a member and an Accredited Legal Professional through their certification program. I am truly grateful for Jac’s commitment to preparing her students to enter the workforce with a meticulous eye and expansive knowledge of the legal profession. Her dedication to me through the UH Paralegal Certificate Program has profoundly changed my future.
Stacy A. Tanet, A.L.P.
One Cypress Energy, LLC
SAT Mineral Interests Management, LLC
Valerie Dominy took the paralegal program in 2011. She had her Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and a desire to work in the legal field. Between not wanting to take on more student loans and discovering that paralegals do a lot of the same things that lawyers do, Valerie decided to forego law school and become a paralegal.
Valerie’s first paralegal job was at a firm in Galveston, working mainly in probate, real estate, and family law. A tax consulting firm found her on LinkedIn and recruited her to work remotely as their on-staff paralegal working in corporate and tax law. She started her own Event Planning business in 2016 and still picks up contract paralegal work from local attorneys. She is currently digging herself into the school debt she swore she’d avoid, to complete her Bachelor’s in Business Management. She plans to get her teaching certification in order to teach Career and Technical Education courses at the same high school from which she graduated. Law school is still a possibility for her future.
Valerie and her husband, Shawn, have been together since 2005. They have a five-year-old daughter (who has impressive negotiation skills) and a ten-month-old son (who is turning out to be more adventurous than his sister was). The best advice Valerie ever got was from her dad, who told her, “You can always learn SOMETHING.”
Her motto is: Don’t stop until you’re proud. Valerie added, about the paralegal program, “Your program is still my most prideful achievement. Nothing worth having is ever easy, and your course proved this saying to be true.”
Jac, Just wanted to says a huge “THANKS” for everything! I have taken a position with an attorney in LasVegas (another story) that does BME work. She has her RN, business degree and JD. She was ok with my lack of experience because the way the Board system works is slightly different than going before a judge. Guess she won’t have to re-train me! Thanks, for always pushing harder, for showing me I was not as dumb as I thought I was that first day, and for making me realize I really could be a good paralegal – age is not a factor! I will keep you in the loop as this position progresses! You are my hero!
A month or so before completing the paralegal course, I applied for a temporary legal assistant position to get feel for this radical career change I was making. About two days before my assignment was to end, an attorney who was looking for a paralegal came into the office. I met with him and his associates and started the day after graduation. I worked at that firm and was slowly given multiple responsibilities that allowed me to apply legal procedures taught in the paralegal course. I am now working for Harris County in the Community Supervision and Corrections Department (former adult probation) and enjoy learning new areas of law and how they intertwine with each other. From the first day I started working in the legal field, I have felt prepared, and although sometimes I think my pleadings and memos look perfect, I always see Jac’s red pen correcting and polishing it up, keeping me on point. It’s been more than a year since I took this course and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to go into the legal field on any level, be it as a legal assistant or an attorney.
I asked Monica Duran what made her decide to take the paralegal class. She said that, before moving to Texas, she worked as a subpoena/docket clerk. She wanted to get back into the legal field, but did not want to go through a two-year Associate Degree program for training. A coworker suggested that she should research local programs. Monica said: “Conclusion, it’s because ‘I AAAAMMMMM a careful investigator’ that I found YOU! (I rest my case).” Anyone who ever brought that first investigation exercise to midweek will get that joke.
Monica graduated in my 43rd paralegal class, in the summer of 2013. She works at The DeGrasse Law Firm, P.C. What she loves most about being a litigation paralegal is that she does every step of the process through post-judgment once citations are served. When her attorneys come back victorious from an MSJ hearing or trial after presenting her work, it is very rewarding. She also enjoys talking to the docket clerks when setting hearings. She’s become friends with some of the docket clerks, through the years.
Monica’s four kids are adults now, and she has two grandchildren. She moved back to Addicks from Katy after the Tax Day Floods in 2016. Miraculously, their current house is three blocks just outside of the flood plain, so after Harvey, they threw up their hands and bowed in homage to the rain gods and decided to stay put for awhile. When she’s not paralegaling, she enjoys gardening and loving her four dogs. Monica’s motto is “Be kind, but always stay diligent for mischievous bastards.” That’s stellar advice.
Once again I would like to thank you for all your inspiration. More than ever in my career I realize my place as a paralegal and how vital my role is in serving what ever attorney I work with. I use to think I wanted to go to law school and become an attorney, but now I realize that I really enjoy my work as a paralegal and if I were an attorney I would not be performing such duties. I might be making more money, but I really like what I do. Someone once told me behind every good lawyer is a great paralegal. I understand that now. I understand what I’m supposed to do and what I’m not suppose to do as a non-lawyer. There is so much more to being a paralegal than just going through the motions. Now I can go through the motions and understand how each motion comes into play and why. I understand O’Connors :). Things are going really well. I’m working part time and I’m getting alot of full time opportunities presented to me. I can’t wait to start applying all that I have learned with the mechanics of what I knew. I am thankful that I knew how to get things done prior to entering the class or I might have been in trouble. I wonder if I took the class now that I’m not pregnant, my memory would serve better for testing. LOL!
Last but not least, thank you for everything.
I started working for a one attorney law firm and his office consist of a receptionist and myself. He is a Judge in the city of South Houston, Texas and is on the bench three days a week. He practices mostly criminal law which includes more juvenile offenders. He practices litigation and is currently in the middle of a very large case. Some family law but not his speciality. He dictates and types all of his own motions and filings. I attend client and attorney meetings and mediations with him when asked. He gave me a chance to come into his office and begin a learing process and attend court room cases while he is on the bench, teaching me the correct aspects of certain motions and the process of each detail from the beginning to the end and to take each task that I have learned from you and your class and apply it one day at a time. There are days that I ask myself what am I doing here and the stress is to much. On those days I must admit that I think of you and your class and remember so many things that you taught me. Yes, there were ups and downs but I will always admire you for being you, there could never be another, not in this life. You taught me to be strong and you gave me confidence when there was none. My position is not really a job, of course I get paid, but it is a learning process each and every day and I am thankful. I have taken computer classes at San Jac. I have currently registered for a mediation class on Sat and Sun. I constantly go back to all my notes taken in your class each day. I would love to visit some of your classes again when they start, please contact me. If given the chance it would be a great honor to speak to one of your classes. I miss the class and you, not the homework!. Ha!. My family and friends were all here during the holidays to support me knowing that this was my first christmas without my Mother and it helped a great deal but emotions were high and the feeling of past years just wasn’t there. We all discussed you and the class and everyone seemed very interested concerning all of the class, the graduation, homework, and guest speakers. When I was asked to describe you, the only word that came to mind was captivating. That one word covers it all and I will always admire and respect you for taking time out for an older woman that needed to learn a new path and the confidence to step out there and achieve it.
Fall 2011 Weekday Class
“We’re all bozos on the bus.” That’s Jobeth Hines-Lorraine’s motto. Jobeth took Jac’s paralegal class in spring of 2016. She had worked for 30 years in the oil & gas industry before taking the class. After the class, she first got a contract position in oil & gas, and for the last year, has worked remotely, proofreading title opinions for a law firm in Montana. Her dream job, though would be working for criminal justice reform with an organization like the Innocence Project.
Jobeth’s favorite quote is, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
Jobeth’s advice is to learn everything you can. If you’re at work, get as much experience as you can. Listen more than you talk and be honest, but be tactful.
“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of
victory.” – George Patton
A previous paralegal graduate suggested defining success, so I looked up the definition myself. While I do agree with Webster’s “favorable or desired outcome,” I don’t much agree with “attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.” I believe that if you are happy with what you have accomplished and pleased with where you are and what you are doing in your life, then you are a success.
After 16 years of sales and marketing, five and a half years of personal experience with the good and the bad of the legal system and six years of unemployment, I decided it was time to go back to work.
At 40 something years old, and enough life experience to make me appreciate what success really means, there was no way I could go back to a sales and marketing job I hated, just to get a paycheck. I was doing volunteer work for DePelchin Children’s Center, my children were still “in the system” of protective services and I had learned quite a few ins and outs of the legal system and found that it was a process that really meant something to me. Being involved with the legal system would be a way for me to not only give back a lot of the good my children and I had received, but to also help others find the good in the legal system. I just couldn’t imagine the time and expense of four more years of college to get a law degree. I needed to get back to work now! It seemed like being a paralegal would be a good place for me but who would hire me with no legal office experience? I started researching Paralegal programs and discovered that while I was already in college, it would still take me the majority of two years to even get a Paralegal degree. Then I ran across the Paralegal Certificate Program on the U of H website. My husband and I talked about the money, the weekends, the kids and my determination and decided this was the best thing for me to do.
The first weekend of the paralegal program, I felt just like Jan Whaley, “What in the H.E. double toothpicks have I gotten myself into?” I thought I would never survive the class, the homework, the tests. It was definitely a challenge, but oh how sweet that challenge made the victory!
I wasn’t going to look for a job until I was finished with the program. I really didn’t think I could handle the homework load, interviewing and possibly working all at the same time. But life doesn’t always work the way you “plan” it and sometimes, it’s the spontaneous moments in life that work out for your best. I responded to one of the many job opportunity emails that Jac sends out to her students, three weeks before graduation. The job was everything I had decided I would look for, when I started looking for a job. The position was with a small law firm that handles primarily family law, wasn’t downtown and was only 30 minutes from my house. I created my resume (the same day she sent the email), sent my resume and cover letter the same afternoon and had an interview the next day. I started my job as a paralegal two weeks before my graduation from the U of H Paralegal Certificate Program.
Thanks to Jac and the program, I had the knowledge necessary to not ony do my job, but to do it in ways my employer didn’t even expect me to know yet. Not only that, my employer told me that it was my personal life experience that played as important a role in their decision as any law office experience could ever have. Those five and a half years of actually living my way through the legal experience, taught me things that you just can’t learn any other way.
Thanks to Jac and the UH Paralegal Program, I learned the tools I needed to learn and achieved the confidence level I needed, to be able to interview and obtain the career I could only dream about a year ago. Success truly is going to work every day to do something that makes a difference in other peoples lives. The paycheck at the end of the week, is just icing! I have never been happier in my life than where I am right now and that makes me successful.
Thank you Jac and Guy for helping me to be a Success Story!
Paralegal to The Law Office of W. Thomas Liddell, Bailey & Bailey
“If at first you do succeed try not to look too surprised.” Anonymous
Taking the Paralegal class at UH was the beginning to a career in the legal industry. I thought I was being proactive by signing up with various legal staffing agencies after the class was over. The class ended in November which is a slow time of year for hiring. I applied for every entry-level position, as well the positions I did not qualify for just so I could get my foot in the door. Every potential employer I spoke to recognized my certificate, but I had no experience. As a result, it was slow for about four months. At that point, I was on the verge of giving up on a career as a Paralegal and was contemplating waiting for a later date to continue my search. Then I received a call from Kim Burrows of Providus Group for a document review assignment at Locke Liddell & Sapp LLP. The assignment was to last for about eight weeks. I was so excited and accepted the offer. I started in May and, four months later, I am still here. I am working on several white collar crimes cases on the litigation floor of the firm. I am learning the basics of paralegal work and litigation hours (sun up to sun down). They are willing to instruct me on what I am not familiar with and answer any questions that I might have. My certificate has been a plus and definitely recognized. My attitude has changed about working in a law firm because I was so concerned about doing a good job and not making any costly mistakes. I have learned how to manage my billing. This is a great firm — including the attorneys as well as the support staff. I am working for Sara Tubbs, Esq. and Stacy Williams Esq. and will be working with more partners in the future. This certificate has paid for itself and I believe it was a great investment for me.
I was working for a family law attorney in Rice Village area, as the receptionist, when I decided to take this class. Immediately after graduation, I was promoted to junior paralegal at my firm. I worked as the junior paralegal for only about a month when I was offered a paralegal position at a firm downtown. Now I work in the same building as the Houston Club, where the benefits are unbelievable. To get to valet park my car everyday and use the Houston Club gym is a luxury. I’m the only paralegal at the firm and it is a lot less stress here compared to my old job. Thanks so much, Jac, for all that you have done for me and for your referral to this great firm.
Sufian & Passamano, L.L.P.
After graduating I received several emails from Jac regarding open positions in firms throughout the area. It was this way that I learned that Locke, Liddell, and Sapp was looking for an Intellectual Property Paralegal Assistant. I had two interviews and throughout the process I was very nervous. Jac gave me the support and advice I needed to stay confident and do the best I could. I succeed in obtaining the position and I’m extremely happy with my job. I’m constantly learning and my supervisors expect that I will continue to learn and take on greater responsibility and move up. I have a great position with a great firm and it’s all because of the Paralegal Program and Jac! Thank you!
Intellectual Property Paralegal Assistant
I took Jac Brennan’s Paralegal Certificate Program at UH in the summer of 2015 and today, I’m 4 months away from completing my first year as a paralegal for Bingham Mann & House. I looked into the class because of articles I read on paralegals. I was very much interested in law and I thought this class would be the prefect introduction into this world. I was right. Taking Jac’s class was one of the best decisions I made.
The class is hard. This you will hear from every student, top or bottom of her infamous board. More importantly; however, this class is not for lazy people. The legal world is not for lazy people. For three months, my life was consumed by a two-day-a-week class. I didn’t understand just how well I was being prepared for a potential career. The homework Jac gives her students could easily be work given by an attorney at a firm; in fact, many times it is.
Part of being successful in Jac’s class that translates to my job is mid-week. Jac gives all her students the opportunity to review their work before it is due for a grade. At my job, we never file or serve anything on the due date. This is important. A good attorney will review their work and their paralegal’s work with plenty of time to make corrections. A good teacher will teach their students this practice—Jac did that for me.
Many attorneys speak at Jac’s class. Your mind will do many things: wonder if that attorney is hiring, decide that area of the law is not for you, and freak out because you are starting to second guess the money you are spending to take this class. Every speaker has something important to share and this was part of why I loved the course. I wish I could walk into Jac’s class just to listen about HIPPA authorizations again. I’ve learned custodian of records can sometimes be difficult.
As a look back, getting hired wasn’t nearly as difficult as getting an interview. Once you finish the class, you are thrown out of the nest to compete with people you’ve never met—sometimes your peers—for jobs you do not know if you will be good at. I went on two interviews. I was hired for the second. I lost count of how many resumes I sent out but I at least got to send out resumes. Jac’s class allowed me to do that. Being nervous on an interview, for me, will never go away but interviewing for a position had never felt more natural.
Taking this class was the right decision for me. It allowed me to get closer to my goals and be more prepared in life. If I could, I would take the class again. It challenged me in more ways I could have ever imagined and it has paid off. During the course I decided I wanted to continue on to law school and that is still my plan.
I work for a security consulting and private investigative firm that does a lot of work for attorneys in Houston and in other locations. Prior to enrolling in the paralegal certificate program, I was a Case Manager for the firm, handling the oversight of investigative cases, conducting research (legal and other), and compiling all the information into a comprehensive report for the client. After completing the course (which I did not tell them about, because I wanted to successfully complete it first!), they compensated me for half the cost of the class, promoted me to Senior Case Manager and gave me a 12.5% raise. They also hired some additional investigators that currently report to me. In fact, one of the new employees is a paralegal who decided to get out of the “attorney” side of it and focus primarily on research.
Hello, my name is Nzinga Holmes. I was enrolled in the summer class of 2016. I am currently working at Bailey Peavy Bailey PLLC. The experience I encountered while in the UH Paralegal course was nothing short of amazing. This course was a key aspect of my success today. I learned a lot about different aspects of law. Not only did this course help me learn about my desired field, it also taught me life lessons. This course couldn’t have prepped me more. My instructor Jac Brennan was more than just a teacher; she was someone who whole heartily loved her job. Jac has stayed in contact with her students, offering any help that might be needed along your journey; not to mention sending out a plethora of different job opportunities. With everything Jac had instilled in me I was able to walk into my first day of work with all the confidence I desired. The UH course installed in me the things I needed to know in order to be successful at my work place. Luckily for me I know that if a day comes where I might need some help or encouragement Jac Brennan is an email away. This was one of the best investments I made, because I made the investment on myself and came out successful.