Paralegal Studies Info Session is Dec. 2 at LVC

Introductory paralegal course being offered in January at the LVC

paralegal JaskulskyNOVEMBER 21, 2013 -- The median wage for a paralegal in Santa Barbara County is $58,000 annually.  In as few as two semesters, students enrolled in the Allan Hancock College paralegal program can complete a certificate in paralegal studies and go to work.  Until now, paralegal courses have been held primarily at the college’s Santa Maria campus.  This spring, an introductory course in paralegal studies is being offered at the Lompoc Valley Center.

An information session on the program, called “Becoming a Paralegal,” will take place on Monday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m., upstairs in the Lompoc Valley Center Student Lounge.  Lompoc attorney Christina Brooks-Montgomery will speak about paralegal opportunities in the Lompoc Valley Attorney and AHC paralegal instructor Stephen Wagner will discuss careers in the paralegal field.  Current paralegal students will also be available.

“If you know you want to be a paralegal, or even if you just want to explore the legal profession, this is the place to start your career,” said Larissa Jaskulsky (shown above), who received her paralegal studies degree from Hancock in December 2012 and works full-time in a law office.

The Introduction to Paralegal Studies class is being offered on Mondays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Lompoc Valley Center.  The class begins Jan. 27, 2014.

“We want to help people in the Lompoc area get on the fast track to an incredible profession that offers a great salary with chances for advancement,” said Marie Comstock, who holds a doctorate in Public Administration and is the chair of the AHC business department.  “There are plenty of lawyers who work in the Lompoc Valley who may hire graduates of the AHC paralegal program,” said Comstock, who is also a practicing attorney.

Since AHC started the paralegal studies program in the fall of 2010, enrollment has grown steadily from 25 students in the spring of 2011 to nearly 100 in the fall of 2013.  The enrollment numbers reflect the increased demand and compensation for paralegals in Santa Barbara County and across the nation.

The California Employment Development Department shows the median wage for a paralegal in Santa Barbara County is $57,957 annually or $27.87 an hour in 2013.  That represents an increase of 40 percent since 2010 when the median wages were $41,512 annually or $19.96 an hour.  The Employment Development Department also projects a 16.7 percent increase in paralegal employment.

“The Hancock program definitely prepared me to immediately enter the real world as a paralegal,” said Jennifer Glaittli, who was a member of the program’s first graduating class in the spring of 2013.  “The program exceeded my expectations.  I learned more than I ever thought was possible.  It was amazing,” she said.  Glaittli started working as a paralegal in a law office immediately after graduation.

Paralegal courses are taught by local practitioners, from judges to attorneys to former paralegals, who all possess a Juris Doctor, or law degree.

“The goal is to offer a locally grown and supported program that teaches and prepares students, as well as improves the local paralegal pool,” Comstock added.

The program offers both a certificate of achievement and associate in science degree.  It requires nine core courses, for a total of 24 units, to earn a certificate, which enables a student to pursue entry-level paralegal positions within two semesters.  The associate in science degree requires an additional 12 selected units, plus general education courses.

“The paralegal program gave me an excellent foundation.  My assignments, especially from the legal research and writing courses, gave me a quality portfolio to show during interviews,” Jaskulsky said.  “Almost six months into my job, I am using all the research and writing skills I learned in the program and have kept the textbooks from my courses as my own little reference library at my desk.”

Registration for spring classes is now under way.  The spring semester beings Tuesday, Jan. 21.

The Lompoc Valley Center is located at One Hancock Drive.  For more information about the paralegal program call (805) 922.6966 ext. 3239 or visit www.hancockcollege.edu/academic_departments/business/paralegal/.

- AHC -

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Last Modified May 2, 2014