Sometimes things are just meant to be. That would certainly be an appropriate way of describing Jenni Burton’s journey to MTI College.

A 2012 graduate of the Paralegal Studies program at MTI, Burton never really expected her professional life to go in the direction of a legal career. Born and raised in what she describes as the Sacramento “bubble,” Burton simply knew that she had a passion for helping people.

After graduating high school in 2006, her mind was set—she was going to attend a local junior college and pursue a degree in nursing. But as she started down that path, Burton quickly discovered that the extreme demand for nursing degrees in the area meant that she would likely have to wait for entry into her program.

“I would have had to wait longer than I wanted to, and I knew I didn’t want to put my career on hold that long. So I had to rethink what direction I wanted to go.”

One thing Burton was sure of was that she still wanted to embark on a career in a field where she would be able to make a difference in people’s lives. And another profession in which she knew that would be the case was law.

“The idea of being in a position of standing up for ‘the little guy’ and making sure people who find themselves in tough situations had the best possible advocates backing them up was really appealing to me.”

Being from the Sacramento area, Burton had heard of MTI College and was aware that it offered accelerated programs, but at first that was all she really knew. She determined that a paralegal studies program was the best fit for what she wanted, and as she researched area programs the picture became even clearer.

A friend of Burton’s was very familiar with MTI and helped open Burton’s eyes to just how respected the school was. She then discovered that the Paralegal Studies program at MTI was approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)—which distinguished it from other respected programs in the area—and her decision became clear.

“Being ABA approved is a very big deal. It means that that program is held to a higher standard than others. Another great thing about MTI that I found was how flexible they are with students, giving many options for them to complete the program.”

Throughout this time, Burton had been working at Raley’s Supermarket, in its online customer service department. When customers put in their grocery orders online, Burton was one of the team members who would put those orders together and have them ready for the customers to pick up.

And as luck would have it, many of her regular customers were attorneys.

“I remember I’d be talking with them and they’d always say how respected the MTI program was in their professional circles. How they knew that anyone coming from the MTI paralegal program would be so well versed and prepared to enter the legal field that they’d usually hire them on the spot.”

It didn’t stop there.

One of her regular customers at Raley’s was an attorney at a major Sacramento law firm and actually worked with Burton to get her foot in the door at that firm while she was working her way through the program at MTI. At first she started working as a file clerk. From there she moved on to reception and calendaring and then helping with discovery.

“That was another great thing about the MTI program. I was able to apply what I learned in my program on the job.”

She continued her work with the law firm as she completed her courses in the Paralegal Studies program, utilizing MTI’s convenient day and evening course options and four-day class week. Since she’d completed general education courses at the junior college she had attended, Burton would only need one-and-a-half years to complete the program.

She stayed with the firm for a couple years and, after completing the program at MTI, put her credentials to work at another firm specializing in employment law, where she continues to work today, helping stand up for the little guy.

“It feels good knowing that I’m playing a major role in helping people who need support. And I’m constantly amazed at just how comprehensive and relevant the MTI paralegal program is. I felt totally prepared coming out of the program and do feel like I was ready to hit the ground running.”

Other aspects of Burton’s MTI experience she appreciates are the bonds and friendships she was able to build. To this day she remains close with several of the students that she was grouped with in her last full year of the program.

In her time away from work, Burton most enjoys relaxing and spending time with her husband, Josh—also a graduate of MTI’s Paralegal Studies program—as well as their two children. The couple is currently remodeling their home, and the entire family enjoys taking care of their two dogs and two cats.

“And maybe one of these days we’ll get chickens, but who knows.”

Regardless, Burton says she will always believe in MTI and its mission of empowering students to achieve their professional goals. And to those students who are considering enrolling at MTI, her advice is simple.

“Don’t hold back. MTI is an amazing school with amazing programs. Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to your future or your education. They’re very supportive and focused on giving every student the support he or she needs to succeed. The really want to know you on an individual level, and that’s something you really don’t see that often in higher education.”

Technology’s importance in everyday life and business continues to grow by leaps and bounds. It has revolutionized the way legal processes function, creating a wonderful career opportunity for a paralegal with excellent technology skills.

Changing rules

According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the courts expect attorneys and their support team (including paralegals) to be up to date on electronic stored information (ESI). Since paralegals are usually assigned discovery tasks, it is crucial that they understand ESI and e-discovery.

Ethics and professional conduct

The American Bar Association in 2012 amended its Model Rule of Professional Conduct to include technological knowledge in a legal professional’s obligation to keep client information confidential. In California, Formal Ethics Opinion No. 2015-193 details tasks that attorneys and paralegals must comply with to ethically and competently represent their clients (in terms of technology).

Efficiency and cost control

Legal technology costs have diminished over the last 10 years, but the greatest expense is in processing, storing and searching for data. The cost for each case is different, so it is important for a paralegal to be aware of technology tools that can reduce both firm and client costs. Having electronic information that is accessible to those who need it increases the efficiency of the legal process.

Value to employers and clients 

A paralegal who is technologically skilled is an asset to a law firm. Attorneys are busy people who rely on paralegals to search databases, do research electronically and keep abreast of new rules that are updated electronically. If a paralegal knows where to go to quickly and gather information a lawyer or client needs, he or she is performing a valuable service.

ESI overload

Paralegals and other law professionals must know how to access, retrieve and manage ESI to protect their clients.

ESI includes emails, Word files, spreadsheets, digital photos, videos, texts and IMs, call logs, voicemails, database records and social media postings that can be found in computer hard drives, network servers, USB drives,  databases and mobile devices and on social media websites.

Career opportunity and higher salaries

The rise of technology has created expanded responsibilities – and new job titles – for paralegals. Increasing your technology skill set can also increase your salary. New career opportunities are appearing for paralegals who specialize in e-discovery and legal project management. Your salary (and value) can go up if you are able to combine legal expertise and advanced technology skills in litigation, information governance, compliance and cybersecurity.

How to increase your technology skill set

There are several easy ways to make yourself invaluable to the legal industry as a paralegal, but being technically savvy is one of the best. Here are easy ways you can boost your skills:

  • Learn the legal technical vocabulary
  • Volunteer to work on e-Discovery and seek additional training
  • Accept offers from vendors who demonstrate litigation software
  • Read industry blogs and sign up for free webinars on changes in legal technology
  • Be proactive
  • Find a mentor to help you learn more about technology

MTI College paralegal program

If you’re fascinated by the legal world but becoming an attorney is not on your immediate radar, consider registering for the ABA-approved MTI paralegal program. It gives you the education you need to work in a law firm, government agency or corporate legal department, assisting lawyers and performing many of the same duties. The MTI paralegal program provides you with the minimum requirements to become a paralegal in California. In just two years, or less, you can earn your associate’s degree in paralegal studies and head out to begin a career in a field that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says is growing.

If you have the interest and the necessary personal traits to become a paralegal, enroll now in the MTI College Paralegal program for the education you need to get that important first job.

When Josh Burton was 16 years old, his first child was born. At 18, he was homeless. He turned 21 while on a 12-month deployment to Iraq after having joined the United States Army. That same year, he returned to the U.S., was stationed in Alaska, and bought his own home.

Burton knows how to persevere. He has fought his way through hardships. He has accomplished things that most people at the same age typically do not accomplish, like being a landlord at age 23.

It is the kind of determination that has served Burton well throughout his life. And it’s a big part of the story when it comes to his journey to MTI College, his student experience, and what he is doing today.

Having grown up in the Seattle area, Burton knew that after his military service was over he wanted to enter into a profession where he would be helping people.

“At the same time, I knew that there were a lot of different ways to go about helping people. I narrowed it down to engineering or law. I ultimately decided on studying law because it seemed more dynamic and entertaining, something where I’d be working on all kinds of different things every day.”

With his military service ending, Burton was able to take advantage of the GI Bill and thankfully price was not going to be a factor when it came to finding the right academic program. “I wanted to find a place that would have the best possible name that I could put on my resume.”

Another key aspect to his decision was the fact that he was going to relocate again. He had family who were living in the Sacramento area, and he decided on moving down to the area from his home in Washington.

“So I had to think about what I wanted. At first I figured I’d pursue a career as an attorney, but thought about it some more and decided that being a paralegal was the best path for me.”

Knowing virtually nothing about Sacramento, he began researching schools in the area and upon discovering that there was only one with a paralegal studies program that was approved by the American Bar Association, the decision became easy.

“Within three days of being out of the Army, I was enrolled at MTI. I knew it was the right place for me, and they made the process very easy. Because of the GI Bill, I didn’t have to worry about finances, and I didn’t have to do any of the coordination with getting that taken care of. The school handled all of the interaction with the VA.”

It was this heightened level of individualized support that Burton says characterized his MTI experience. He had attended community colleges in the past, and while they had different missions than MTI, the personal attention was nowhere near what he experienced at MTI.

“I was just a number at the other school. I couldn’t get the classes I needed, didn’t know when I’d be able to get the classes I needed. At MTI they worked closely with me, they made sure I was signed up for the right classes. I knew all four terms what I’d be taking, and if I started in January I would be able to complete everything I needed to complete by the following January.”

In Burton’s second year of the program, he wanted to complement what he was learning with real-world experience. Again, the support staff at MTI came through. It was a Tuesday when Burton went to speak with the counselors in Career Services. Two days later, he got a call from an area law firm. Later that same afternoon he had an interview, and when they saw he would soon be a graduate of MTI, he was offered the job.

Burton graduated in 2014, and he continues to work at the same firm to this day—with a twist.

He started working as office support. Within a matter of weeks, he was given a moderate case load as a paralegal, and eventually had taken on a heavier caseload than any other paralegal at the firm. But before long his professional path took an interesting turn. Another lifelong area of interest for Burton was computers. In fact, he built his first computer at the age of 10. When there was an opening for an IT manager at his law firm, Burton saw it as a chance to broaden his professional horizons.

Burton got the position and for a time was balancing his work as a paralegal—handling more than 25 employment law cases mostly during the evenings—and spending daytime office hours overseeing the IT operation. He earned the titles of both Senior Paralegal and IT Manager.

Today, Burton’s firm has expanded to multiple locations throughout California. He spends virtually all of his time “putting out fires” with regards to technology and overseeing all aspects of the firm’s IT needs. As a member of his firm’s hiring committee, Josh encouraged interviews with MTI College students or graduates. He recently began the second year of the IT degree program at MTI. In addition, he has returned to MTI on several occasions to speak with MTI students in the Paralegal Studies program. As the firm’s IT Manager, Burton has hired two IT Assistants from the college, so far.

Although he says he does not have much spare time, when he does take time away from work he spends it with his wife Jenni—also an MTI graduate who is a paralegal at the same firm—and he also enjoys motorcycles.

Burton’s is a story of overcoming challenges, following your interests, and constantly improving yourself. During his time as a student at MTI, he earned all of the awards he possibly could have, including the MTI College Master Student Award, Outstanding Graduate, and Perfect Attendance, and he received the 2013 John O’Sullivan Memorial Scholarship from the Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association.

His advice to anyone considering the Paralegal Studies program at MTI is clear and direct.

“Really think about what you want to spend your days doing, and the type of people you want to be around. I knew I didn’t just want to work with numbers. I wanted to work with people. As a paralegal, I was able to work on all facets of a case, helping people who have been wronged. Even though I’m doing the IT thing now, I still feel close to it.

“MTI is a place that definitely has the best interests of its students at heart; and you’ll find other students there who are like-minded and just as driven as you. To this day I’m still good friends with some of the guys who I met in the program there.”

It is the winding roads in life that are usually the most interesting. The same can be said when it comes to an individual’s professional journey and career path. Nicole Silverman demonstrates this truth as well as anyone.

Ms. Silverman’s educational and professional journey has stretched from high school, college, and law school in the Sacramento area to the museums of Vienna, Austria, and back. It has taken unexpected turns, strengthened her beliefs, and broadened her perspectives.

In addition, it has shaped her outlook on teaching when she began her role as professor in the Paralegal program at MTI College.

“We learn so much from the things we experience. A big part of where I am today is the result of an experience I chose to pursue in my final year of law school that completely changed my perspective and led me down a new path within the field of law. So that’s something I always emphasize to my students, to never close themselves off to new opportunities, to go after the kind of experiences that can impact their outlook and career goals.”

Ms. Silverman grew up in Sacramento and always stayed local, completing what she describes as the area’s “trifecta” in terms of her education—high school, junior college at Sacramento City College, and undergraduate study at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis).

At UC Davis, she chose to follow one of her passions, history.  Specifically, she majored in Early Modern American and European History, and as part of her undergraduate experience traveled abroad to explore some of the history of World War II in Vienna.

Ms. Silverman’s initial plan was to put her degree in history to use by teaching—either at the K-12 level or pursuing advanced study in the field and teaching at the university level. However, while she felt that teaching was something of a natural calling, the more she thought about it, the harder it became to deny the powerful interest she had in another academic discipline—Law.

“I’ve always been interested in law; I like the idea of service and helping people who are going through something very tough and need a voice.  So, I decided that a career in law was right for me, but coming out of UC Davis, I wasn’t totally sure what my best next step would be. I thought about applying directly to law school, but then decided that going the route of a paralegal first would give me a really solid foundation.”

Having grown up in Sacramento, Ms. Silverman was aware of MTI College, and knew that the school was held in high regard. She looked around at other respected paralegal programs in the area, but in the end, none of the others could match a key distinction of the Paralegal program at MTI College—the fact that it is approved by the America Bar Association (ABA).

“In the legal world, that’s huge. None of the other programs I looked at, which were definitely good programs, had that ABA approval. MTI did.”

Since she had already earned her bachelor’s degree at UC Davis, Silverman was able to complete the Paralegal program in just one year. From there, she was accepted at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. During her time in law school, Silverman balanced a heavy workload as a full-time paralegal/law clerk during the day and a law student at night.

It was in her final year of law school when Silverman made a choice that would change the trajectory of her legal career. She decided to take part in McGeorge’s Prisoner Civil Rights Mediation Clinic (Prisoner Mediation Clinic), where she assisted federal judges in the Eastern District of California with co-mediating Section 1983 prisoner grievances. In the Prisoner Mediation Clinic, she conducted interviews with prisoners in the prison or via telephone, drafted confidential pre-mediation bench memorandums for the judges, and assisted in mediating settlement conferences between prisoners, the California Office of the Attorney General, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“It was pretty eye-opening to see just how huge the power imbalance was when it came to prisoners’ legal needs being met. Their cases would take much, much longer to work their way through the system.”

It was an impactful experience, and one that led Silverman to pursue work in the public defender’s office so that she could do her part to ensure that everyone, no matter their circumstance in life, would have a legal advocate.

Through it all, Ms. Silverman never lost touch with her interest in teaching. After earning her Juris Doctorate (J.D.), she decided to reach out to her old acquaintance, Linda Gardenhire, the department chair of Paralegal Studies at MTI College.

Ms. Silverman started to engage with students at MTI by taking part in panel discussions and speaking opportunities at the school. She is now in her second year teaching online torts, and substitute teaches on campus in a variety of legal courses.

The positive experience Ms. Silverman had as a student at MTI, has carried over to her role as professor in the Paralegal program.

“Unless you are from the Sacramento area, it is hard to know just how respected the Paralegal program is. I have worked with a lot of law firms, and the majority of paralegals you see there are from MTI. The overall quality of the program is something that I’m really proud to be a part of.”

Nevertheless, teaching at MTI holds a special place for Ms. Silverman, because every day is an opportunity to empower students to achieve their goals.

“It’s really fulfilling to see just how passionate the students are. They are motivated to learn the law, they are inquisitive, they ask a lot of questions, and they want to further themselves. You have to respect that. And it’s great being able to share my story with them as a source of motivation.”

“These subjects can be pretty difficult. So when I see them succeed in class and that they genuinely understand the material in a way that’s going to contribute to their success down the road, it’s just a really good feeling.”

When she is not teaching, clerking, or working as a independent contractor for multiple law firms, Ms. Silverman devotes her time to her son, and can usually be found at a local park cheering him on during his soccer games. She is looking into piano lessons and Spanish classes as other ways for them to spend quality time together.

Ever the lifelong learner, Ms. Silverman is also considering pursuing a master’s degree in social work as a way to help survivors of sexual exploitation, an issue she has learned about through her work in the public defender’s office.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegal jobs are growing steadily—but that does not mean there is no competition. The MTI College Paralegal Studies program prepares you with the education you need to gain an entry-level paralegal job. That, plus your perseverance, dedication … and a top-notch resume … help you plead your case for that important first job.

So, what do you put on your resume if you have just completed your MTI College Paralegal Degree and have little work experience?

  1. Start with a summary.

Highlight your work ethic; dedication and general traits that apply to the way you work. This is a place to pat yourself on the back.

  1. Highlight your education.

State your school, degree and graduation year. Show any additional classes, workshops or certification programs that you attended.

  1. Emphasize your skills.

Detail any skills that are relevant to your paralegal career.

  1. Showcase relevant experience.

If it is your first paralegal job, list internships  even if they were unpaid and highlight accomplishments. Include volunteer work in your community.

  1. Indicate relevant certifications and memberships.

Are you a Certified Paralegal Assistant (CP) through NALA? Member of SVPA, NFPA?

Regardless of what is included on your resume, always be positive, clear and concise, and use action verbs. Use conservative language and standard fonts (Arial, Times New Roman). Proofread and read through for any errors -and ask a detail-minded friend to review for any errors.

Sources:

https://www.reference.com/business-finance/should-paralegal-resume-e7c7fb48558b2336?aq=examples+of+paralegal+resumes&qo=cdpArticles

https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/writing-a-resume/the-best-resume-format-for-paralegals

https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/paralegal-voice/2011/09/paralegal-resume-101-how-to-stand-out-from-the-competition/

https://www.livecareer.com/resume-examples/law/paralegal

If you have made the choice to enroll in the MTI paralegal studies program, you know that in just two years or less you can be out looking for a job in the fascinating legal world. With paralegal MTI training, you will have gained the essential background you need for that important first opportunity.

As a graduate of the MTI paralegal studies program, you could find yourself working in the legal department of a corporation, for a government agency or in a law firm assisting attorneys and performing many of the same duties. Depending on where that first job lands you, you could find yourself supporting multiple lawyers simultaneously.

Do you have what it takes? Let us find out.

You must be an organizational wizard.

Since every piece of data is important in a legal case, knowing where to find it at a moment’s notice is crucial. To be a successful paralegal working for multiple attorneys, organizational skills should be second nature to you. In addition to having your own files and documents organized, you are going to need to keep your attorneys organized as well. They often are extremely busy and expect you to step up and oversee the details. You need to be able to keep them focused and at ease so they can do what they need to do. This means being able to manage your workflow and theirs in a sufficient and timely manner. Being well organized is also key to reducing job stress.

You must be a multi-tasker extraordinaire.

The legal world is fast-paced, and working as a paralegal requires being very detail-minded. When you are a paralegal, your duties can include:

  • Searching research databases to find case law and legal precedents
  • Drafting legal documents using litigation software
  • Interviewing and communicating with clients
  • Assisting with trial preparation and depositions

Keep in mind that if you are working for multiple attorneys, each one is looking for you to complete those duties. That is a lot of time-sensitive work that requires being able to multi-task. You may have to schedule an appointment for one, prepare trial notes for another or just jump in and help with whatever needs to be done.

If you embrace technology, your firm has likely adopted task management software or apps to help you manage your deadlines. Some email programs, such as Gmail and Outlook, already have task management built into the software. Sticky notes, manual calendars and notes are also useful aids but remember all data must be entered into the software for the other legal professionals within your firm to view the information.  You never rely solely on sticky notes or a manual calendar to manage each project.

You must be a diplomat with a strong backbone.

Let us say you work for three attorneys. Each is going to have a different personality and probably a different work style. The common denominator is that all three think their cases or tasks for you, the paralegal, are the most important. You know you can organize and multi-task, but at some point, you are going to have to be assertive and let them know that maybe Lawyer B’s task is more urgent than Lawyer C’s. Ask each attorney what task is most pressing and when it must be completed. Do not be afraid to tell them if something else is taking precedence. With your good organizational skills and ability to multi-task, you will be able to handle it all.

Keep in mind that your day-to-day activities may also include interacting with clients, witnesses, court personnel, attorneys from other firms and work colleagues. Staying professional and diplomatic is essential — even when personalities clash or you are under pressure.

You must be an excellent communicator.

When working for multiple attorneys, you will have projects with competing deadlines. One attorney might give you very clear instructions, whereas another might just scribble a note. You will need to use your best listening skills and ask questions to get a clear picture of what is expected of you. As you get to know each attorney’s style and preferences, you will figure out the best way to communicate with them to deliver what they have requested. Never be afraid to ask questions for clarification and always remember to write down the answer to your question.  Attorneys welcome questions as long as you do not keep asking the same question!

The MTI College Paralegal Studies program prepares you with the education you need to gain an entry-level paralegal job. That, plus your perseverance, dedication and personality traits, can prepare you to work for multiple attorneys.

Caitlin Scott graduated from MTI College’s Paralegal Studies program in September 2014. Initially, right after high school, Caitlin completed her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, with a goal of pursuing a career in law enforcement. When Caitlin graduated and began focusing on a criminal justice career, reality set in that this was not the right fit for her. “What would be called for me to do, didn’t quite fit with me. It just wasn’t a career field that I could see myself in.” This came as a surprise because in her undergraduate courses, she loved learning about law enforcement. She is analytical in nature and enjoyed examining the law in various classes. Because of this, Caitlin realized law school may be a better fit. But, upon more research, Caitlin discovered that law schools were turning out graduates with no available jobs. “I read that law schools were only accepting 40 percent of their applicants. I studied for the LSAT, got a decent score, but didn’t get in.” This was yet another detour. It was time for deeper self-reflection. What was she supposed to do now?

Caitlin had to decide on what she could afford. It was then Caitlin found the ABA-approved paralegal program at MTI College. She applied right away. “I looked at other colleges, and one thing I really liked about MTI’s program was their level of attention to students when they graduate, helping them with the job search.” She reflected on her time after her undergraduate degree and described a sense of fear. She talked about how you complete your schooling in a few years, and then you step right into the real world on your own, which is very daunting. But MTI was different. “Having the extra guidance with resumes and how to prepare for an interview was very, very helpful. Also, reading all the reviews about teachers. I did a tour of the campus, and everyone was really accommodating and really willing and able to answer my questions.”

After graduating from MTI, Caitlin obtained a position as a paralegal at a real estate law firm, where she stayed for about two years. It was a small firm, with two attorneys, which concentrated on title issues, landlord/tenant issues, and foreclosures. She was hired to help both attorneys but focused more of her work on property occupancy issues. This was a learning opportunity for Caitlin. She began to understand what that area of law entails and how the state handles regulations. “It was very interesting, very fast paced. It gave me a true taste of what law firms are like. The ebb and flow of how the court system works, having to call court clerks to find information and get hearing dates.” Although Caitlin enjoyed this experience, not only does she dream big; she makes it happen. She applied to Middlesex University in London for its Master’s in Criminology program, and on May 8 she found out she was accepted. She is currently applying for a visa and working on getting housing and everything else together. “It has been an emotional whirlwind. Excitement and nervousness. Moving to another country is daunting. I reassured myself it is a good thing. This is amazing.”

The reason Caitlin chose to take this route is because she has found a big difference between criminal justice and criminology. “I like criminology because it deals with more of the human side of crimes, why people do what they do. Criminal justice deals with the structure within the system – probation, court, all of those nuances of how they all work together.” She chose to apply to Middlesex specifically because it has a program that deals with global criminology. “I wanted to focus on the global aspect of why crime occurs, how to implement new policies, better solutions to existing policies and global crime – terrorism, gang crimes.”

Long term, after Caitlin’s graduate program is complete, she would love to stay in Europe and explore. “I can explore different countries and their criminal justice structures and learn about their policies and regulations.” She is hoping to use her MTI paralegal education, combined with her Master’s in criminology, to find a job overseas that deals with the global aspect of crime. One option she is considering is the Criminologists Without Borders program. Regardless of where she ends up, she has found her passion and niche. This is the career she was meant to pursue. “Before MTI, I was still figuring out really where it is I was trying to go in terms of career. After MTI, it definitely gave me courage to know that I can succeed in any field I choose. And to know that I can find a niche.” MTI was exactly the step in the right direction that Caitlin needed. “That was the great thing, I finally felt like I found something that I can do that I can feel proud of. For me, I want to do more. MTI was a great way to help me see that I can gain confidence and get there. That was the best thing about MTI – giving me the confidence to know I can achieve whatever goal I set my mind to.”

Caitlin cannot recommend MTI College highly enough. “Support was great. I had a really great counselor I met when I was considering going to the school. She was really understanding in terms of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go in terms of my career after.” Caitlin continued on to tell a story about how one of her classmates had set up study sessions and made it open to all of their classmates. The same counselor found out about their study sessions and “crashed the party” to check in on them. She was so pleased to see everyone was getting along and helping each other. Caitlin was blown away by this individualized attention and support. When it comes to MTI College, Caitlin stated, “I recommend it to everyone I talk to.” She truly believes that the professors and curriculum are leaders in the field. They teach their students hands-on, valuable skills. “They are not teaching you something just to teach you. They want you to be so confident that you know what you know. You are leaving there comfortable and confident that you can work in the job you want.”

Aside from Caitlin’s passion for criminology and law, she is also an avid runner. She has been running for 13 years. She also likes hiking and exploring outdoors, something she will be able to do quite a bit of when she makes her move to Europe this fall. Caitlin has come a long way from her first day of undergrad to now packing up all of her things and moving overseas. As she reflected on this amazing journey and what she has learned, she provided some final pieces of advice. “They [students] are laying the foundation for their futures, and they picked a really great school to do that. Have the drive to see your program through; give it your all; don’t slack. Put every effort you can into completing your program and to gain all the knowledge they have to offer. There are a lot of knowledgeable people there.” But most importantly, “if you really put in your all, it will pay out in more ways than you can think of.”

Our next faculty spotlight is on Allen Delgado, instructor for MTI College’s Paralegal Studies program. Allen has been an instructor in the paralegal program for two years. Interestingly enough, however, this is not his first experience with MTI. He is a graduate from the very program he is now teaching.  Prior to his enrollment as a student at MTI, Allen worked in the medical field for eight years as a licensed EMT. He realized that he did not want to become a nurse or a doctor. Allen realized that he wanted a change in career. At this point in his career, he felt he had become stagnant and felt trapped. He had a strong feeling that he needed to make a change. Allen started off like so many other students, seeing commercials and hearing ads on the radio concerning job training programs. He started researching and making a list of careers. Allen became interested in the paralegal field because he enjoys critical thinking, reading, and writing. Also, there is always someone who needs help, and he found it very interesting to be able to work with attorneys, other paralegals and even judges. It seemed to be a natural fit for him. He enrolled in MTI College’s Paralegal studies program. He graduated on the Dean’s List and Honor Roll.  Prior to graduation, he went to work as a paralegal in a very successful law firm.

In addition to teaching at MTI, Allen works full-time in the legal field. He is a legal analyst for the state of California. As a legal analyst, one of his main duties is to review motions that are filed by other parties. Upon reviewing the motion, he can make a recommended ruling to the judge on how they should rule according to the regulations and laws surrounding that motion. After the judge makes the formal ruling, Allen’s job is to process the orders and serve them on the party. He is also responsible from the time the case is open until the judge renders the formal decision. “It is all my responsibility,” Allen states, “the good and the bad.” Painting this realistic picture for his students, the good and the bad, is something that is very important to Allen. “I really try to give hands-on practical skills of what it is really like,” he explains. “Sometimes there is a distinction between what is in the books and what is in the real world. I try to merge that gap.” Allen makes an incredible effort to make sure students know the concepts as a foundation for real world practice. When asked to describe some of the challenges that students face, he explains that if you state on your resume, “Attention to detail,” you must practice that theory.  When it comes to legal writing and studying documents for a judge or attorney, that attention to detail must be truly impeccable. Students can get caught off guard with how attentive to detail they have to be, especially on a formal court document. Also, some students may be challenged by the amount of comprehension they need for laws, regulations, and how they apply to a client’s case. Researching regulations, analyzing, and applying them can be very overwhelming.

As an MTI paralegal graduate, Allen’s advice to students is “do not begin doubting yourself.” The moment students begin doubting themselves is when they ruin their chances of success. “I remember as a student, it was challenging for me,” Allen reflected. He needed much support from his family and friends to get through the paralegal program. It was difficult working full-time, taking care of his family and going to school simultaneously. It felt overwhelming. “But if you have support and you’re passionate about it, then the sky is the limit. Success is based off of the amount of effort you put in.” Allen knew nothing about being a paralegal before MTI. He did a complete turnaround from the medical field. However, with the support of his wife and now five-year-old daughter, combined with his hard work and dedication, he graduated with honors and has built a phenomenal career.

Allen currently teaches paralegal courses such as Introduction to the Legal Environment, Introduction to Paralegalism, Client Interviewing and Ethics, Legal Technology. One of his favorite courses, and a current “hot topic” in the field, is Ethics. Allen very wisely explained that everyone’s ethics are different because they are based upon their particular environment and personal history. Therefore, within the Ethics course, when Allen brings real-world situations into play, such as the current political climate or professional “What if?” situations, it makes for a fun discussion. Being a teacher is always something Allen has been passionate about. “As a student sitting in class I would always think to myself, ‘I could do that’ and how I would do it.” He would think about how he could teach material in different ways so students would comprehend it even better. He thought about how he could tailor the curriculum so the information would be retained better by the students. After graduation, he kept in contact with a number of his instructors.

Being an MTI instructor is definitely one of the accomplishments that he is most proud of in his career. “Being a former student, saying that one day I can see myself teaching, and then actually accomplishing it, is an honor.” Allen is also incredibly proud of the legal career he has built.  “I really take pride in my work. I am proud to say that I am a legal analyst for the state personnel board. I love my job. I love what I do and it is only because of my paralegal education at MTI College.”

Sherri Dutra-Brinson is a graduate of MTI College’s Paralegal Studies program. She attended the two year program, graduating in October, 2016. Sherri is a California native, having lived in the Bay Area most of her life. She migrated a little northeast to the Sacramento area in the ’80s to raise her family. Once her children became older, Sherri started to pursue a lifelong goal – her education. “One thing I have always wanted for myself is to have something to call a career,” she passionately explained. For her entire life, she has been working in the service industry in some capacity. She has worked in retail, grocery stores and restaurants. She has worked incredibly hard to take care of her family. However, there finally came a point in her life when she was able to focus on what she wanted, and what she wanted was a Monday-through-Friday career. She has worked nights, weekends and holidays her whole life. It was time for a change.

Sherri had passed MTI College for years. She knew there were various medical programs but did not realize they also offered business-related programs as well, until one random day when she saw it on the marquee. It immediately sparked her interest. “I just walked in. I was a walk-in off the street.” That day, Sherri was able to do an intake meeting with one of the administrators there. In that meeting, she was asked some very specific questions to help her figure out what she wanted for herself. Sherri could not contain her excitement as she told the story of that day. “I went to MTI thinking I would sign up for a business or accounting program, only to discover through a Q&A intake, would I consider paralegal? The feeling I got when she offered that information was exciting. I went home and thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I want to be a paralegal’ and signed up the next day.”

Sherri would soon find out that her excitement for the paralegal program was only going to grow. “What I can tell you is that if you are willing to put in the effort, they are right there with you. Anything you don’t understand, they go above and beyond to help you be successful. All the instructors are really committed to your learning process.” One thing Sherri was very impressed by was that every class was designed to elevate you to the next level of academics. When she started the program and saw requirements such as algebra and statistics, she became overwhelmed with the thought of having been out of school for a very long time. She questioned how she was going to be able to pass these classes. Nevertheless, when it was time to take those classes, Sherri had already taken four math courses to prepare her. The statistics course actually ended up being rewarding. Although still not easy, she successfully passed the course. It was the same situation with Microsoft Word and Excel. Sherri explained that for her younger counterparts a course like that may have been redundant. Yet, for her, being able to first learn more about Microsoft Word and Excel is what set her up for success. She was also able to take advantage of the labs that were offered for extra help for every class. She had to put in extra effort, but it paid off. As Sherri explained, “Time and time again, I found that even though I may not understand in this moment, with determination and perseverance I was going to get there. And I continuously did throughout the whole process.”

As Sherri continued to reflect on her experience at MTI College, she started to get emotional. She told the story of her first day. It was simple introductions and the overview of the course syllabus and Sherri was excited. She thought to herself, “I’m in college now; this is going to be fun.” Well, the next day was her first real day of the computer concepts course. It was a basic introduction course, but as Sherri explained, she came from an era of not being exposed to computers. “My understanding and comprehension of it was incredibly limited. The words coming out of the instructor’s mouth were truly foreign to me. My response in that moment was sitting in my chair and crying in class.” She kept thinking to herself how she was going to pass the course and wondered if she should just go to the bathroom and hide out. She did not want to miss out, though, so she just sat there and cried. The instructor kept looking at her, wondering if she was okay. As tears of gratitude continued to roll down, Sherri gratefully expressed, “I told her, ‘I don’t see how this is going to work.’ She said, ‘I assure you, if you attend every lab and stay committed, you are going to conquer and you are going to prevail.’ I got an ‘A’ in the class.” Sherri was such a shining star throughout the program; she was chosen to be the speaker at graduation and earned the Outstanding Graduate award.

Sherri’s hard work and dedication have paid off, as she currently works at a law firm. Her department handles Social Security disability claims for clients. “I absolutely love, love my job. I am blessed and honored to be working for an attorney who has been practicing for 37 years, who has dedicated his life to this area of law.” In Sherri’s role, she is responsible for client intakes and signing clients up for services. She is able to share with people the value of navigating the problem for them while they do what they need to in order to sustain themselves.  For Sherri, it is a win-win situation. She loves being able to help people and work for passionate, dedicated people. And now, not only does she get holidays off, she actually gets paid on holidays. Her dream has officially come true.

When asked about her future plans, Sherri explained that there are so many different levels for advancement at her firm. “It starts at intake, but then there’s applications, then reconsideration, repeals case manager, claim representatives.” A claims representative must be certified to appear in court on a client’s behalf. Paralegals may represent a client in an Administrative law hearing, if they are properly certified.  My goal is to appear in court representing clients.” She has it figured out, and there is no doubt she will continue to grow and make a positive impact. Sherri is an incredibly motivated and inspirational individual. When asked what advice she had for MTI College students, Sherri did not hesitate. “What I would say is just when you think you can’t, do it anyway. Perseverance pays off 100% of the time. If you give up, you don’t have a chance anymore. Show up; you will figure it out. But you have to show up.”

 

 

If you’re fascinated by the legal world but don’t have the time to become an attorney, consider registering for the MTI paralegal program. It gives you the education you need to work in a law firm, government agency or corporate legal department, assisting lawyers and performing many of the same duties.

The MTI paralegal program provides you with the minimum requirements for paralegal in California. In just two years or less with a prior qualifying degree, you can earn your associate degree in paralegal studies and prepare to begin a career that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says is growing. In addition to the need for paralegals in law firms, California is expecting jobs to grow in the private sector in major cities as corporations expand and diversify their legal departments.

Read on to learn more about what it takes to be a paralegal in California and how the MTI paralegal program can prepare you for your career.

What are the California state requirements for becoming a paralegal?

California imposes stronger regulations on paralegals than in other states. Although the state doesn’t require licensing, Business and Professions Code section 6450, et seq. establishes qualifications for becoming a paralegal. If you graduate from the MTI College Paralegal Studies program, you will have met the necessary requirement: receiving a degree from an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved program. The ABA requires paralegals to have completed a minimum of 24 semester (or equivalent) units of legal courses.

What are the necessary traits a paralegal should possess?

Besides having an interest in working in the legal field, possessing the following traits would help you in the paralegal field:

  • Good organizational ability
  • Keyboarding and basic computer knowledge
  • Attention to detail
  • Attentive listening skills
  • Sound reasoning
  • Strong reading comprehension
  • Research skills
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Strong backbone
  • Sense of humor
  • Persistence

How the MTI paralegal program prepares you for a paralegal career in California

In just two years, or less, you can earn your associate degree. Your second-year instructors are a faculty of paralegals, attorneys and other legal professionals who instruct you in a small-group setting. They will teach you how to apply analytical and critical thinking to legal principles in coursework that includes:

  • Legal Research
  • Introduction to legal terminology and procedures
  • Legal software and e-Discovery
  • Legal writing and analysis
  • Civil litigation principles
  • Areas of substantive and procedural law

You can complete your studies on campus with a traditional program, or participate via the OnlinePlus training course. The latter offers Internet-based instruction and is ideal for those who must balance family obligations with education or with work. You may only need to be on campus one night per week while completing other courses online.

Once you have successfully completed your first year of study, MTI encourages you to seek a legal internship or a part-time job as a file clerk, legal secretary or any type of legal administration work concurrent with the OnlinePlus or traditional second-year program. This will provide you with additional experience and a better chance of finding a paralegal position when you graduate.

What MTI students say about the paralegal program?

The best way to learn what to expect at MTI is to hear what other students and instructors are saying about the paralegal program:

It exceeded all my expectations.” – Curtis Missal, MTI Paralegal Student

MTI tries to use the same technology and software that are being used in many of today’s law firms, so you really teach a hands-on approach, and as technology changes, we try to implement those advances … into how we teach the students. A lot of students have different learning styles, so it’s really trying to connect with everybody while also teaching effectively to all the students.” – Allen Delgado, Law and Technology Instructor

Already being in the field and coming back to school was difficult, but it was a challenge that I was up for. MTI will help me get there because they’ve prepared me for it.” – Simone Robertson, MTI Paralegal Student

There were some neighboring colleges—some really reputable colleges and universities—that offered a paralegal program, but it was not ABA approved. It’s just the education you need for the career you want, and you’re getting some good education and training.” – Deborah Stoeckle, MTI Paralegal Student

What you will do as a paralegal

As a paralegal working under a supervising attorney, you will play a vital role in your company. You will be able to perform many duties the attorney does except practice law, negotiate payments and accept clients. Some of them include:

  • Searching research databases to find case law and legal precedents
  • Drafting legal documents using litigation software
  • Interviewing and communicating with clients
  • Assisting with trial preparation and depositions

Other things you can do to complement your MTI degree and enhance your career

Completing the MTI paralegal program is the first step. Then, once you’re out in the workforce, you may decide to study for national certification that enhances your legal knowledge and improves your value in the legal world. The Commission for Advanced California Paralegal Specialization, Inc. recommends that you take an exam for optional certification to become a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Registered Paralegal.

The reward is that attorneys recognize your additional level of knowledge and investment in your career. The certification enables you to specialize in one of five law fields—business and organizations, real estate, family law, civil litigation, and estates and trusts—that could help you advance your career.

In addition to certification, or in lieu of it, you could join a local California paralegal association. Many are members of a national association, such as NALA (National Association of Paralegal Assistants) and NFPA (National Federation of Paralegal Associations). This is a great way to network with others and stay abreast of the latest news in your chosen career.

If you have the interest and the necessary personal traits to become a paralegal, enroll now in the MTI College Paralegal Studies program for the education you need to get that important first job.

 

 

 

 

 

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