Paralegal Program

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Success Stories

BALANCING FAMILY AND CAREER

Struggling with the responsibilities of a full time career and taking care of my children, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my children and be available for all of their activities. But I was not in a financial position to give up my career.

Forced with a difficult dilemma, I decided to venture out on my own and see if I could obtain assignments from other law firms on a contract basis doing the same type of work. This was quite risky but I was hoping to earn a similar income and have more flexibility with my hours and be able to devote some of my daytime hours to my children. I put the word out to numerous attorneys and other professional contacts in December, and I began receiving assignments independently in January. Within my first month out on my own I found myself as busy as I wanted to be and earning as much, if not more, income than I had anticipated.

Denise M.
Freelance Paralegal



Law has always been my chosen profession and working as a legal secretary furthered my desire to go to law school. However, the realities of raising a family as a single parent precluded me from my goal. After my children were in high school, I decided to attend the Legal Assistant Program at USD as a first step toward law school. Not only did I receive an excellent education from practicing lawyers, but I found that USD’s stellar reputation placed me at the head of the line when interviewing with local firms. Once I got my foot in the door, it was then up to me to use the skills and knowledge I acquired in the program to not only succeed, but to excel in a field that is fast paced and competitive. I can’t thank the program enough for providing a solid foundation which has allowed me to work in a field I love, provide for my family, and which provides me with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Cathleen F.
Paralegal



I considered law school, but as a single father, I needed to enter the legal field in a matter of months - not years. Although there are other ABA approved paralegal programs, I felt that none of them had the prestige, high caliber of instructors, and internship electives that USD offered. USD gave me the proper legal background, training, and credibility I needed to secure a rewarding career as a Legal Assistant with one of the largest law firms in the world. Further, graduating from the USD Paralegal Program with Honors gives me a well-earned advantage upon entering law school.

James B.
Paralegal

CAREER ADVANCEMENT

I absolutely loved this program. Not only was I going to have a career finally, but I achieved it at USD, a very well known university. During the program I made friendships that will last forever. The evening program made it very convenient for me to attend all of the classes while working full time. The teachers were fantastic.

I went from records clerk to records supervisor to paralegal and the firm paid for my school! Working in the field of civil litigation and bankruptcy, I draft discovery, prepare pleadings, do research and am involved in all aspects of trial preparation.

Thank you to the staff in the Paralegal Program Office for accepting me and giving me the chance to make such a difference in my life, I appreciate all of your hard work and help throughout the year.

Sara W.
Paralegal



I considered taking a paralegal course many times, but there were always obstacles. I had substantial legal experience and considered myself a legal assistant, but decided to “officially” become a paralegal in the fall of 2000.
USD’s reputation was a factor I considered when enrolling in the program and undoubtedly a factor considered by prospective employers. Even before finishing the program I received a promotion, followed by another upon program completion. I absorbed a wealth of information about various areas of law and found Richard Valdez’ research class extremely valuable. I now have a variety of new responsibilities such as customer bankruptcies, drafting agreements, and special projects.

I became a “legal” paralegal and made many friends along the way. Resources continue to be available, and the networking potential is invaluable. For me completing the program at USD was a “win, win” situation.

Sally C.
Paralegal



I feel that it is necessary that I write to you, to make you aware of my feelings about the Paralegal Program. I learned more than I had ever learned in all my years working as a bankruptcy legal secretary for a small firm. Your program has helped me to feel sure about my future. The paralegal program was a challenging experience in the sense that it required a lot of time studying and no time to play. It did prove beneficial though, I gained the knowledge that has helped me with my present position at Milberg Weiss. When I started to look for employment opportunities I noticed an ad at your office. I faxed them my resume and got a call almost immediately, asking if I would be interested in an interview. When I arrived home from the interview, I received the phone call that I did not expect to receive for at least a few days. It was the firm that interviewed me offering me a position with their firm at a salary that was much, much more than I had asked for. I was ecstatic, the benefits were wonderful, medical, 401K plans, vacation, and the list goes on.

I know that the reason I got hired had a lot to do with the fact that I was attending the University of San Diego as well as my past experience as a legal secretary in the bankruptcy field.

Thank you so much for all the knowledge that I gained through your program.

Karen S.
Paralegal



I began my legal career 13 years ago as a receptionist in a law firm. My duties also included maintaining the law library. Within a short time I was promoted to legal secretary for a law partner who later became my mentor. I attended college in the evening. I obtained my degree and took the paralegal program at the University of San Diego ("USD") primarily because I enjoyed legal research. The practical "hands-on" approach of the legal research classes and the computer legal research instruction offered at USD were extremely thorough and have proved to be very useful.

In addition to providing me with employment, my first paralegal position out of USD also helped me choose a specialty. During my experience as both a legal secretary and paralegal I worked in many areas of the legal field--from transactional real estate law to business litigation to estates, wills and trusts to family law. The most intriguing areas for me are bankruptcy and commercial litigation.

Once I decided what area of law I wanted to specialize in, I returned to USD to take the continuing education classes that were offered in the area of my specialty. The continuing education classes provided me with an intense and in depth understanding of bankruptcy law. The instructors at USD are knowledgeable and make themselves available to students who attend college in the evening.

I am now a paralegal specializing in bankruptcy at a mid-size law firm in San Diego. I have been lucky enough to work for extremely talented attorneys who are pioneers in their field. The advantage of this is that I am able to learn more about my specialty and am constantly called upon to refine the skills I learned from my training at USD. he USD paralegal program provided me with a rich and varied template that has and continues to expose me to many challenging facets of the legal field. I recommend this program to anyone who is interested in obtaining the best legal education available, in my opinion, in San Diego.

Angela B.
Bankruptcy Paralegal



If not for the detailed and thorough overview of Civil Litigation and Legal Research, many of my duties would be more difficult to complete. Research is a huge part of my job and knowing what resources are available is a plus.

Audrey M.
Paralegal



Because I was moving to Southern California, I decided to research the schools in San Diego. I wanted to enroll in an ABA-approved program, because I felt I’d learn more in such a program…. USD’s program stood out the most because it offered a day or evening curriculum covering topics such as legal research, civil litigation, and criminal law, job placement, and a beautiful campus.
Everything we learned in computer class has been a great help. It’s allowed me to help the legal secretaries with the computer programs they’re not used to, and it’s given me the confidence to familiarize myself with computer programs I wasn’t comfortable with upon hire.

Audrey B.
Paralegal



In my job search I visited the USD Paralegal office once or twice per week to browse the job listing printout. I emailed several of the employers on that list, got a couple of interviews right away, and was offered the job the same day as my very first interview.

Doug L.
Paralegal

WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT

As a graduate of the University of San Diego Paralegal Program, I have been afforded a great deal of respect from the legal community, particularly the California criminal court system. The USD Paralegal Office referred me to the position of Court-appointed Paralegal for indigent felony cases. Although I was a civil litigation specialist, I realized just how thorough my training at USD was as I made the transition to criminal law with relative ease. The fundamentals of legal research, client interview, trial preparation, discovery and pre-trial motions were invaluable tools taught to me by highly qualified USD paralegal faculty. Moreover, the confidence and pride instilled in me as a graduate of the USD paralegal program should be underscored. It has been my experience that when asked by a Superior Court Judge or other official where I received my instruction, the mention of the USD program has garnered praise and even opened doors.

I am grateful for my excellent training at USD and look forward to continuing education in the USD Paralegal Program.

Patricia J.
Paralegal

MOVING ON TO LAW SCHOOL

I moved to San Diego after I graduated from Arizona State University with a music degree and began working as a legal secretary in a small law office in North County. The attorneys I supported practiced in the areas of probate and estate planning, and while I didn’t have any experience in these areas prior to my move to San Diego, I learned quickly about this area of law and enjoyed this work tremendously.

Although law school was an option for me, at this point in my career this seemed a bit overwhelming. I decided to enroll in the University of San Diego paralegal program instead so I could learn more about law while contemplating law school, and have the ability and training to take on additional responsibilities and more challenging assignments within the trust and estates practice.

The education and training I received at the University of San Diego was incredible and provided me with all of the practical and legal basis I needed to take my career where it is today.

Denise M.
Freelance Paralegal



Over 30 years ago, I chose to attend the Paralegal Program at USD because of its outstanding reputation for practical legal training. At the time, I wanted to learn about the legal profession, but wasn't sure whether I was interested in law school. I loved my experience in the program and subsequently continued my legal education, becoming a law student, a lawyer, and now a full-time law professor. I've been a teacher in the program now for the past 25 years. As a lawyer, the Paralegal Program provides students with both legal theory and practical experience. Our faculty consists of working professionals who can give students a perspective on what's happening in the practical legal world.

For persons considering pursuing law studies, as a full-time law professor at California Western School of Law, I can say without equivocation that there is no better training or preparation for law school than a paralegal training program. I've worked with dozens of USD paralegal graduates who have become prominent members of the legal profession. I've worked with many who have gone to law school. To a person, they have attributed their success in law field or law school to the thorough training they received at USD.

With new State laws recognizing the "Paralegal" profession, the profession will continue to grow in prestige, with paralegals getting even more responsibility in handling legal problems. Anyone who wants to learn about the legal field, or who is even considering law school, should attend the USD Program.

Rob D.
Professor



I chose the USD Paralegal Program as a form of insurance for my choice of going to law school - and it paid off big (saving me $75,000 in loans to pay for law school), as being a paralegal has taught me that being a lawyer is not the career for me. If I hadn't gone through the USD Paralegal Program, I never would have found employment in a large firm that I had been pining for since my days as an undergraduate at San Diego State University. This is where the USD Paralegal Program came in. With the law in California changing in 2001 to require paralegals to have either a certain number of years experience or a paralegal certificate from an ABA approved paralegal program, I now had an advantage over many of the other candidates. In addition, the Paralegal Program gave me a taste of many different areas of the law, thus increasing my marketability. Competing with the best is tough - but it's even tougher without the aid of a paralegal program like USD's!

Joshua J.
Paralegal



I considered law school, but as a single father, I needed to enter the legal field in a matter of months - not years. Although there are other ABA approved paralegal programs, I felt that none of them had the prestige, high caliber of instructors, and internship electives that USD offered. USD gave me the proper legal background, training, and credibility I needed to secure a rewarding career as a Legal Assistant with one of the largest law firms in the world. Further, graduating from the USD Paralegal Program with Honors gives me a well-earned advantage upon entering law school.

James B.
Paralegal

A COLLEGE DEGREE, AND NO PLANS….

I came across USD’S Program when I was browsing through The San Diego Reader over the summer trying to find a job. I decided to enroll because I felt that I needed more skills to be marketable in the job world. One of the important skills that I learned while going through the program was staying organized in whatever I was doing. You must be organized while being a paralegal because work is constantly flying at you and you have deadlines to meet. A huge percentage of skills come from on the job learning, but the USD program gave me a good head start with what to expect and the job is simply fine-tuning that.

About two weeks before graduation, I started looking at the job listings in the program office. It was extremely helpful. The first one I applied for was for the law firm of Neil, Dymott. I submitted a resume and cover letter electronically and followed up a few days later. The HR director set up an interview in front of four people that I would be working with. The same day of the interview they called back and offered me the job at the pay rate that I requested. All this before I even graduated!!

Lindsey H.
Paralegal



I moved to San Diego after I graduated from Arizona State University with a music degree and began working as a legal secretary in a small law office in North County. The attorneys I supported practiced in the areas of probate and estate planning, and while I didn’t have any experience in these areas prior to my move to San Diego, I learned quickly about this area of law and enjoyed this work tremendously.
Although law school was an option for me, at this point in my career this seemed a bit overwhelming. I decided to enroll in the University of San Diego paralegal program instead so I could learn more about law while contemplating law school, and have the ability and training to take on additional responsibilities and more challenging assignments within the trust and estates practice. The education and training I received at the University of San Diego was incredible and provided me with all of the practical and legal basis I needed to take my career where it is today.

Denise M.
Freelance Paralegal



I enrolled in the USD Paralegal Program because I was looking for a way to make my B.A. in English Literature more marketable. During my undergraduate studies I worked as a waitress and a lifeguard. So, when I graduated, I didn’t have any experience that specifically applied to working in an office. What most appealed to me about the USD Paralegal Program was the legal internship and the job finding assistance.
I loved my internship assignment and I am still friends with my paralegal mentor. The internship gave me the confidence I needed to succeed in a new career field. USD is the most recognized paralegal program and law school in the San Diego area. Within a month of my graduation from the program, I was hired by an Intellectual Property law firm that had contacted USD seeking qualified candidates. Now, as an office manager/paralegal in charge of hiring, I always call USD for resumes when we are hiring for new paralegals. I trust USD to provide us with well-prepared paralegals who are versed in the law and appropriate office conduct.

Rhianna B.
Paralegal



Before I graduated from CSU Sacramento, a representative from your program visited an upper division class in "Pre-Law.” I had been thinking of becoming an attorney but my interest was piqued so I decided to apply for your paralegal program. I loved the classes and teachers and I learned so much.

In 1994 I was hired at one of the top 25 firms in Sacramento. I worked with the Public Entity Defense Team, Employment/Labor (harassment, discrimination, civil rights issues). I was also the librarian of the firm. In 1997, I was asked by the three partners of the Public Entity Defense Team to come with them as their paralegal for the new firm they started, Angelo, Kilday & Kilduff. I am the only paralegal for this firm of 8 attorneys. It is successful and busy. My responsibilities with respect to assistance with motion preparation, drafting of pleadings, management of massive amounts of documents has increased. I love this firm and the partners love me!

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude for your program. It prepared me for this exciting career.

Susan J.
Paralegal



After graduating form San Diego State University, I was unsure about what I wanted to do. I knew that I needed marketable skills and a good reputation to back them up. The USD Paralegal Program offered both opportunities. I was able to enroll in the full-time day program and earn my Paralegal Certificate within four months. Before I had completed the program, I used the information provided in the Program Office and began applying for paralegal positions in San Diego. Within weeks I had numerous interviews and an offer from one of the top firms in the nation. I have been at Latham & Watkins since completing the program 2 1/12 years ago. The skills and general information I received at USD has prepared me well for my career as a Paralegal. I owe much gratitude to the USD Paralegal Program and staff.

Kristen T.
Paralegal

CHANGING CAREERS

I had been considering a career change for many years before deciding to pursue my Paralegal Certificate. I had limited experience in the field of law but I had often thought of becoming a Paralegal. I researched my options, conducted informational interviews, and, after much thought and consideration, applied for the USD Paralegal Program.

The education and training I received during my studies at USD provided me with the basic skills I needed to be a successful paralegal. Within three weeks of graduation from the program, I was hired at a very busy and successful Intellectual Property/Business Litigation law firm in downtown San Jose. I am the only paralegal for this firm of 16 attorneys. My duties include legal research, trial preparation, document management, and drafting of pleadings. I love my job and apparently the attorneys appreciate me. Within 90 days of hire I received a substantial raise.

I would like to express my gratitude to Sue Sullivan, the instructors, and the entire office staff. The USD Paralegal Program changed my life!

Linda P.
Paralegal



The Paralegal Program at USD was key to making the transition from a Navy Legal Yeoman working with JAG (Judge Advocate General, the Navy’s elite legal team) to a marketable legal career in the civilian work force.

After researching many paralegal programs, ABA approval is what sold me on USD. Financial Aid was a snap. The professors taught from true experience in their field of instruction. I must give credit to the high caliber of my fellow students and the invaluable time spent in study groups.

With USD’s certificate in hand, I was able to land a job in one of the most prestigious international law firms, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, working on projects with JDRP’s offices in Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and New York. From JDRP, I was sought after and hired by IKON, a national litigation support firm.

The Home Depot’s Legal Department currently employs me as a Commercial Litigation Paralegal. My responsibilities include management and direction, with counsel, of all Customer Commercial Litigation in Home Depot stores in the Midwest and Northeast.

Paul M.
Paralegal



Like many others, I was the victim of a corporate downsizing. Since my career to this point had been in finance, I was surprised when my aptitude test showed my highest interest was in the legal field. As a result, I researched career opportunities and the search led me to the USD Paralegal Program.
In addition to a career change, I also needed to transition as quickly as possible to minimize the length of time I would be without income. The accelerated Day Program at USD fit the bill. The time from registration to diploma was about 3 ½ months.

My new position, Legal Coordinator, is perfect for me. It combines my experience with a corporation and my newly acquired paralegal education. I thank USD for providing me the education to successfully complete this transition to the legal field.

John B.
Legal Coordinator

CORPORATE PROMOTION

I chose the USD Paralegal Program because it is an American Bar Association approved, well-respected program offering a broad curriculum in a condensed format. The program greatly increased my confidence and proficiency in interviewing, writing, and research, as well as computer and analytical skills. The curriculum was challenging, and the instructors were helpful and knowledgeable. On a personal level, I’ve gained a network of friends who enjoy the legal field as much as I do. I continue to benefit from the USD Program through its Alumni Association and specialized continuing study courses.

I attended the evening generalist program while working full-time. In less than a year of condensed study, I gained a solid foundation on which to base my career as a paralegal. Currently, I am employed as a corporate paralegal. Each day I build upon what I learned in the program. I am grateful for the excellent training I received.

Nicki S.
Paralegal



I considered taking a paralegal course many times, but there were always obstacles. I had substantial legal experience and considered myself a legal assistant, but decided to “officially” become a paralegal in the fall of 2000. USD’s reputation was a factor I considered when enrolling in the program and undoubtedly a factor considered by prospective employers. Even before finishing the program I received a promotion, followed by another upon program completion. I absorbed a wealth of information about various areas of law and found Richard Valdez’ research class extremely valuable. I now have a variety of new responsibilities such as customer bankruptcies, drafting agreements, and special projects.

I became a “legal” paralegal and made many friends along the way. Resources continue to be available, and the networking potential is invaluable. For me completing the program at USD was a “win, win” situation.

Sally C.
Paralegal

FREELANCE PARALEGALS

I went through the paralegal program while an undergraduate at USD. When I completed both my B.A. and the Paralegal Program, the employment assistance provided landed a job I stayed at for 14 years.

I’m now freelancing. In order to expand my business, I took an Estates, Trusts & Wills class last year with the Evening Program.

Knowing USD’s excellent reputation in the legal community, that I can return as an alumnus for additional paralegal courses, including MCLE, and the ongoing employment assistance for alumni has kept me involved with the program. USD has a top-notch program. I highly recommend it to anyone interest in paralegal training.

Joan P.
Freelance Paralegal


I chose USD because it was the only ABA-approved program in San Diego in 1991 and now I know it was the smartest career move I could have made.

From the time I earned my certificate from the University of San Diego in 1992, my goal was to obtain as much experience in as many practice areas as possible.  Fifteen years later and goal accomplished, this diverse background proved an excellent springboard into freelancing.  I truly believe that the USD certificate was instrumental in my progress.

For the past three years, I have worked exclusively and successfully as an independent freelance paralegal.  I work with many firms and assist with all kinds of interesting projects.  This past year has brought many exciting challenges and accomplishments: my website is finally up and running (www.penelegal.com), I sat for and passed the two-day CLA examination this summer, and in response to so many questions from fellow paralegals, I have a book coming out: "Freelancing to Freedom - A Guide for Paralegals".

One of the great benefits of USD's program is the alumni association and continuing educational opportunities.  I look forward to participating in the alumni program and utilizing the program's MCLE courses.

Penelope L., CLA
Independent Paralegal