Paralegal students host Brazos Valley Paralegal Forum

Panel discussion was attended by more than 100 students and welcomed home two alumni as featured participants

July 10, 2019

The Blinn College District Legal Assistant (Paralegal) Student Organization hosted the Brazos Valley Paralegal Forum Thursday, April 25, at the Blinn College-Bryan Campus.

The event featured a five-member panel that spoke about the role paralegals play as the chief assistant to lawyers and government officials.

“Our program is proud to work with such an outstanding legal community,” said Robert Stanberry, Blinn’s Legal Assistant Program Coordinator. “The entire panel was extremely generous with their time, staying long after the forum to visit with our students individually until all questions were answered.”

The panel was chaired by Billy Hart, President of the Brazos County Legal Professionals Association and Litigation Paralegal for the law firm of West, Webb, Albritton, and Gentry.

“The students were engaged and I enjoyed answering their questions,” Hart said. “I think this event helped the students get a better grasp of their future work environment and the careers they are working toward.”

Panel members Dayla Hall (Class of 2011) and Jeri Alexander (Class of 2013) were both alumni of Blinn’s Legal Assistant Program. Hall is a legal assistant to The Texas A&M University System General Counsel and Alexander works with the Brazos County District Clerk’s Office.

“Blinn was my home for many years and the school gave me the foundation for what I do today,” Hall said. “I hope the students who attended the forum left with a better understanding of what a paralegal does and what they can do in the workforce. It is a powerful and fulfilling career that can be rewarding for years to come.”

Said Alexander, “You have to work hard and show you are dedicated and committed to accomplish what you want from the experience and to provide what your employer needs.”

The panel also included Andrea Hester of the Watson Law Firm and Brandy Cooke of Rodgers, Miller, and Rodriguez.

“I enjoyed meeting the students and seeing their enthusiasm regarding the legal community,” Hester said.

Paralegals, or legal assistants, serve as attorneys’ top assistants in the delivery of legal services, performing duties that include attending trials, assisting in testimony preparation, locating and interviewing witnesses, conducting client interviews and conducting investigations and research. Their role is expanding as companies look to hire employees with a broad understanding of legal matters. Job opportunities abound in private law firms, courts, government, insurance companies, administrative agencies and corporations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for certified legal assistants is expected to increase 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, creating more than 41,800 new jobs in the field. Legal assistants earn a median pay of $50,410 per year, or $24.24 per hour.

With traditional classroom and online tracks available, Blinn’s Legal Assistant Program equips students for a variety of law careers with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree or a Legal Office Certificate. Courses are taught by a faculty comprised entirely of lawyers and judges whose classes are structured to promote quality student-faculty interaction. Students completing the AAS degree are eligible to sit for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) certification exam, and majors in the program join the Legal Assistant Student Organization.

In addition to preparing students for careers, Blinn’s Legal Assistant Program provides a strong foundation of legal knowledge for students who choose to continue their education via law school.

“The Blinn Legal Assistant Program strives to connect local professionals with students currently enrolled in the program,” Stanberry said. “We want to give our students every perspective possible so they can be successful.”

For more information, visit www.blinn.edu/paralegal.

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