Graduation!

Receiving my A.S. degree in Paralegal Studies.

Receiving my A.S. degree in Paralegal Studies.

Done. Finished. Complete.

I just finished the very last class in my effort to obtain the degree in paralegal studies that I’ve been pursuing for the past three years. This class was the Legal Studies Capstone which served as a review of the entire paralegal studies program.  Each week, we would review areas of the law from contracts to real estate, family law to torts, civil and criminal law, trusts and estates, etc.

During this 11-week review, I was reminded of the professors who taught each course. Some of these professors were outstanding teachers, and others — not so much. Some professors piled on the homework, and others were simply winging their way through the course.

Fortunately, the professor who taught this capstone was excellent. Each week, as we worked through an area of law, I  was tasked with creating documents that would become part of my portfolio of legal documents from which to draw once I became a paralegal. My portfolio now consists of demand letters, case briefs, powers of attorney, a last will and testament, a living will, summons and complaints, motions, worksheets to calculate child support, bankruptcy forms, apartment leases, warranty deeds — the list goes on and on.

Thankfully, my capstone professor took the time to make suggestions and additions to the portfolio assignments so that they were the best documents I could work from once I was a paralegal working in the field.  I thanked him several times during the course of the class for his comments and how much his enthusiasm for teaching meant to me. I can only hope he understood that his hard work was appreciated!

As I wrap up this chapter of my life, and think of the ways that my new degree will affect my future plans, I want to thank my readers for taking this journey with me. Your support is appreciated too!

Thank you!

Michelle

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If I squint really hard, I can see my graduation from here.

I know I haven’t been very diligent in keeping my blog current, and for that, I apologize. However, last quarter I took 3 courses — two of which were the condensed, five-week courses — which was much more difficult than I imagined. My Contract Law course nearly took me down. The homework for this course consisted of 8 or 9 case briefs every week. For the seasoned paralegal, I imagine that this task would be quite easy; but for a student like me, it takes several hours to complete just one case brief. And then I still had homework from the other two classes I had to finish. It was brutal!

But, to use a well-worn cliché, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Only two more classes to go. I’m currently taking Tort Law, which is extremely interesting. Then, during the winter quarter of college, I will have my capstone. Since I work full-time and have no intention of quitting my job to complete a traditional internship, the Dean of the Criminal Justice Dept. at Colorado Technical University has arranged for a modified internship — my capstone — which is a series a research assignments given by one of our attorney–professors. As you can imagine, I am looking forward to my final class. Yippee!

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Wait . . . you want a dictionary for Christmas?

Black's Law Dictionary

Black’s Law Dictionary

My husband asked me yesterday what I wanted for Christmas. He usually doesn’t ask this question quite so early, but I suspect it is because I struggle with this request every year.  You see, I am a very practical person, so my list usually consists of requests for clothing – to which he’ll give me a gift certificate to spend however I want – or he will buy me a a wrist watch. (Those who know me are keenly aware of my extensive watch collection.)

This year, however, I actually thought of something unique, yet practical. I asked for Black’s Law Dictionary. What else would a close-to-graduating paralegal student ask for?

My husband said in disbelief, “You want a dictionary for Christmas?”.

“Yes,” I said.

After explaining the significance of Black’s Law Dictionary, my husband’s eyes started to twinkle at the thought of buying me something that I would need as a paralegal.  Later that evening, I discovered that he had slipped away with my iPad and had purchased and downloaded Black’s Law for iPad to my device. When he handed it back to me, he said, “I’ll buy you the hardbound version for Christmas.” What a sweetheart!

If you haven’t tried the iPad version of Black’s Law Dictionary, I highly recommend it. It’s lovely and easy to use!

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The importance of lectures.

I’m taking the condensed Civil Lit II course this quarter. I have one week left of this class, but I discovered the importance of lectures and how they can affect your grade.

I took a long-planned Alaskan cruise during this class; which meant getting all of my assignments completed before leaving.  I had four assignments to push through before I departed, and the lectures that would have better explained the textbook chapters I read in order to complete the assignments occurred during the two Sundays I was in Alaska.

Needless to say, missing these lectures affected my grades.  Of the four assignments I turned in, I received two As, one B+ and one C+ ~ Yikes!  On the flip side, I did get to see Alaska!

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Evangelista, Pinault Child Support Case

A recent assignment about the fairness of child support lead me to a Wall Street Journal story about super model Linda Evangelista and the father of her son, billionaire businessman Francois-Henri Pinault.

Wall Street Journal: Looking to Raise a Child on $47,000 a Month

Ms. Evangelista is requesting $47,000 a month in child support for Augusta — a record-setting amount if approved by the judge.

Today I looked for any follow-up stories on this case and found an article in the New York Post. The judge approved an undisclosed amount of child support to Ms. Evangelista. Linda had a “slight smile on her face” as she left the courthouse so one can assume that she must be happy with the result. You can decide for yourself . . .

New York Post: Judge Signs Off on Evangelista, Pinault Child Support Agreement

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Sharpening my writing skills.

ImproveI have never been a fast writer. I tend to tinker with each sentence as a write it. I write a few words, stop, pick a different word, stop, back up, wait, turn these words around, think, tinker, write a few words, stop, think, back up, change a word. Well . . . you understand what I’m saying. It is like I’m trying to write a final version during the first draft. Rather silly, I know.

My writing skills are being pushed to the limit in my Family Law class.  OK, maybe not my writing skills, but my writing speed is being tested. The assignments that are given for this class are usually a couple of case briefs or summarizing law review articles, along with a summarizing another article for an online forum.  If you’ve ever read a judge’s decision on a case or a law review article, then you know how long and involved they can be. Summarizing one of these buggers can take a while; and, if you’re a slow writer like me because I edit on-the-fly, you have to plan accordingly to get your assignments completed by the deadline.

Fortunately, I learned some writing techniques in my English Comp class that actually prevent me from tinkering with my sentences as I write them. My favorite technique is free writing, which is non-stop writing of whatever thoughts comes into your head. Remembering that you can always go back and edit it later. It is a terrific way to break through writer’s block. I actually got quite good at it. Now if I could only remember to do it when I’m working on my assignments.  English Comp, don’t fail me now!

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Finding my rhythm

At the beginning of every new quarter it always takes me a couple of weeks to get a handle on how much homework each professor doles out, how much reading is involved for each assignment, and how I’m going to complete it all by deadline. This quarter I’m taking Trust, Wills & Estates, Family Law, and Accounting I.  The Trust, Wills and Estates course is a condensed 6-week online course.

I’ve just completed the second week and I think I’ve found my rhythm. Mind you, the first week was pretty ugly. I read through my assignments for the week and thought my plan to get it all done was sound, but by the time Friday night arrived I knew I was in trouble. As you may know, I work at a newspaper and I’m used to deadlines - but I wasn’t about to miss one now. So, guess what? I spent the entire weekend doing homework. Yes, the entire weekend! It was horrible. I think I even growled at my dog, Max, who simply wanted to play fetch.

Max, the dog.

Max, the dog.

So when the new assignments were posted last Monday, I took a different approach.  And as you can see my friends, it is Saturday afternoon and I just finished all of my homework. I even have time to blog.  Heck, I even have time to Max outside and play fetch!

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