Finals week

This is the last week of the winter term which means, of course, it’s FINALS WEEK! Students will be cramming for their finals and catching up on any late assignments in an effort to earn as many points as possible toward their final grade.

I usually take three courses each quarter, but I only took two classes for the winter term;  a stenography speedbuilding class and Vocabulary Development for Court Reporters. The speedbuilding course is pass/fail.  Since dropping my court reporting major earlier this month, I am no longer attending that class which leaves only my vocabulary class to wrap up this week. As of this afternoon, I have completed the required assignments along with finishing my final for Vocabulary Development.  My fellow court reporting students had warned that the vocabulary course was very time-consuming.  Because I work full-time, I thought it best that I revert to part-time status as a student in order to have enough time to complete my homework. Come to find out, it really wasn’t that bad. I could have taken a third course, but it was nice to have a breather. Besides, I’m going to be a full-time student next quarter so I’m enjoying the break.

On to Paralegal Studies ~ classes start April 4!

Final Exam Study Cycle

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Occupational outlook for paralegals

Bureau of Labor Statistics
About a month ago, I read an article on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics website regarding the occupational outlook for court reporters.  Prior to changing my major to Paralegal Studies I, once again, went to this website and checked into the prospect of becoming a paralegal in the future. 

According to the article, the need for paralegals should increase by 28%, which is above average for all other occupations between the years 2008-2018.  This projection is due to employers trying to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers. Paralegals are performing a wider variety of duties, making them more useful to businesses.

Of course, paralegal jobs are affected by the business cycle as well. During recessions, people are less likely to hire a lawyer for legal services such as planning estates, drafting wills, and handling real estate transactions. Similarily, corporations are more likely to delay certain types of litigation when falling sales and profits lead to financial belt tightening. As a result, full-time paralegals may be laid off or have their work hours reduced. However, during recessions, corporations and individuals are more likely to face problems that require legal assistance, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, and divorces. Paralegals, who provide many of the same legal services as lawyers at a lower cost, tend to fare relatively better in difficult economic conditions.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the article, you will find a paragraph relating to wages.

Here’s the link to the full article:

Occupational Outlook for Paralegals

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Credits here, credits there

I was recently reviewing the list of classes I need to take in order to obtain an Associate of Science degree in Paralegal Studies.  As I mentioned in my last post, I have already taken many of the required courses needed for this degree:

Introduction to Business
Criminal Law
American Government
Creating Academic and Professional Success
Information and Technology Literacy
Anatomy and Physiology
Introduction to Sociology

That’s 28 credits going toward the 92 credits needed.  It’s tough watching all those court reporting credits I’ve earned become a casualty of the choice I’ve made, but I’ll deal with it.

Unfortunately, Introduction to Paralegal Practice & Ethics — the first paralegal class I need to take — is not being offered until the summer term. Therefore, I’m taking English Comp I, Values in World Literature, and Algebra this term.  That’s okay, it gives me the opportunity to complete more of my general courses.

My husband would like me to work toward getting my Bachelor of Science degree at 180 credits.  I would love to do this! It’s great having this kind of support around me.  He’s a wonderful cheerleader and keeps me on track, but I like to set my goals in shorter, more attainable increments.  Kind of like jumping across a stream by using stepping stones.  For me, it’s much easier to get across the stream without getting wet.  And if you know me, you know I don’t particularly like falling into water and getting wet.  So, for now, I’m aiming for an A.S. degree; and, step by step, I’m going to cross this stream.

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The start of a new chapter.

Welcome to Paralegal Crossing.  This is the second blog that I’ve authored.  My first blog was called Court Reporting 101. I used it to document my progress to becoming a court reporter.  That adventure ended in early March when I decided to change my major to Paralegal Studies.  To understand my decision, please read the last post from Court Reporting 101:

After some serious soul-searching, I’ve decided to end my journey to become a court reporter and change my major. I’ve thought long and hard about this decision and the reasons are varied. Almost every reason has something to do with my age or finances. As I mentioned to my instructor, if I knew then what I know now, I would have started court reporting in my early 20s, not my late 40s.

It’s been said that the average length of time to become a certified court reporter is 33 months. From what I understand, this length of time is based on being enrolled in a full-time court reporting school. I’m enrolled in night courses, and working full-time simultaneously. Therefore, I don’t have the ability to practice 8 hours a day, and this situation will no doubt add years to the time it will take me to become certified. Obviously, this additional time will also increase the total cost of getting my degree. This begs the question: “How far into debt do I want to go to get my 2-year degree?” Do you see where I’m going with this?

For those of you unfamiliar with the court reporting field. Court reporters also own their own equipment. Once you graduate from court reporting school, you are expected to purchase a professional-level stenograph and a computer program used to convert your steno into English so that it can be read by individuals in real time — like closed captioning. You may even have to purchase a new laptop computer for this venture. This set up is quite costly. $7,000 – $10,000. Cha-ching! That’s quite a bit to add to my student loans. Should I really be racking up this kind of debt at my age?

So I have decided to pursue an A.S. degree in Paralegal Studies. A lot of my credits will transfer to this program so I already have a running start. Besides, I worked for a law firm for many years and I’m fascinated by the law. It seems like a good fit for me.

I hope you will walk with me on my new journey to obtain my A.S. degree in Paralegal Studies.

~ Michelle

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