For Jacqueline Flores, working as a paralegal comes with some great perks.
As she finishes up her undergraduate studies in order to apply to law school, Flores is able to keep her head in a legal mindset by performing paralegal duties at Dana Michael Ritter immigration law firm. And with paralegals in high demand, she can rely on employment security as she completes her undergraduate degree and prepares for law school.
In addition, as a recent graduate of the Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies, Flores will be able to take all of her recently acquired paralegal education to make her law school application be more competitive.
In fact, a recent news article shows that working as a paralegal can lead to successful law school entry. "Working as a paralegal enhances your research, writing and analytical skills, in addition to giving you an understanding of legal processes," the article states. "Working closely with lawyers can give you hands-on experience in high-level and complex legal duties and responsibilities."
And that is exactly how Flores is parlaying her paralegal education into a fulfilling career as an immigration lawyer.
The courses gave me the knowledge and experience to pursue law school.
"I was drawn to the paralegal program because it seemed like a great opportunity," Flores adds. "The courses gave me the knowledge and experience to pursue law school. I knew that I needed to gain the theoretical knowledge so that I could get a job as a paralegal and get started in the field."
Transitioning into the legal field can be a daunting experience, but Flores found encouragement with her instructors, particularly Tod Zuckerman, himself a legal practitioner since 1980. During his lectures, Zuckerman would elaborate on several key legal foundational skills, explaining not only the theoretical background, but also how to employ the theories into real-world situations. One such situation, Flores recalls, was interviewing for her now current position, in which she was able to successfully describe different legal issues and how to best solve those through a paralegal lens.
The hiring manager was quite interested that I was attending this paralegal program.
"I knew the basics to apply them to immigration law," Flores adds. "When I was being interviewed, the hiring manager was quite interested that I was attending this paralegal program."
Earning her certificate in 2016, Flores is looking to transition her newfound legal skills and experience at the immigration law firm into a full-fledged legal career. "The law firm handles immigration employment: H1Bs, work permits. I enjoy it because these are professionals who seek a better living. As an immigrant myself, I can really relate to these families who want to get residency and employment. That's what I want to go to law school for.
"Completing the paralegal certificate is going to be an asset because Berkeley is prestigious. My experience as an immigrant and pursuing my dream of being an attorney shows my commitment to this career."