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Learn about the exciting career of paralegals this Saturday, Feb. 1 at Cascade

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The Paralegal Program at Portland Community College is holding its annual Career Day at the Cascade Campus in North Portland on Saturday, Feb. 1. The event provides an opportunity for students in the program to network with established paralegals in the area, explore prospective employment opportunities, and hear from guest speakers and program alumni about life in the legal world. It’s also a chance for would-be students to learn more about a possible gainful career.

Paralegal Career Day is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Terrell Hall.

As any fan of criminal procedural TV dramas knows, the legal profession is a complicated one. It takes years of schooling and a mastery of arcane Latin terms to make one’s way as a lawyer. Naturally, someone has to keep everything together, right? Enter the paralegal.

paralegal students.
Paralegal Program
  • PCC offers a two-year associate degree and a one-year paralegal certificate.
  • The program has the advantage of being recognized and approved by the American Bar Association, a distinction that most other programs don’t enjoy. It also boasts its own law library, an even rarer distinction.

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“As nurses are to doctors, paralegals are to attorneys,” said Elizabeth Tindell, who was once one of those would-be students attending Paralegal Career Day. Now, she’s a student in the program and president of the Paralegal Club at the Cascade Campus.

“The connections we can make with alumni at Career Day really make it a helpful and special thing,” Tindell said. “It helps current students to navigate the process and get a look at what the job is really like.”

Paralegals are part of the legal team.

“We ‘translate’ what an attorney says into language a client can understand,” Tindell continued. “We also help reduce the cost to the client – it’s much less expensive for a paralegal to do certain tasks than an attorney.”

In addition to making the legal system more accessible and understandable, paralegals perform a number of functions which are essential to a case. They interview potential clients as part of the initial screening process, which helps a lawyer determine whether or not to take a case. Litigation paralegals assist with e-discovery, the electronic aspect of the larger “discovery” process by which each party in a legal proceeding receives information from the other; as well as with trial preparation and, during the trial itself, they may take notes or attend to various other details while the attorneys try the case.

The precise nature of the relationship between paralegal and attorney can differ significantly based on which area of the law a particular lawyer specializes in, said Diana Blake, admissions specialist for the program. A paralegal’s specific duties will vary for the same reason, she said, adding that it’s a good idea to have a broad base of knowledge going into the workplace.