Iowa Valley Grinnell’s Paralegal program prepares students to enter a field with excellent career opportunities
Christie Jack of Grinnell had a full-time job, a husband, two athletic children, and a household to care for when she enrolled full-time in Iowa Valley Community College Grinnell in January 2011. She already had an Associates Degree in education but the Paralegal program sparked an interest in continuing her education. The Iowa Valley class schedule offered Christie the ability to continue to work and care for her family while going to college.
“I chose the Paralegal program because I really didn’t know much about law and was very interested in learning more. It was a whole new avenue for me,” explains Christie. “I liked the challenge of hitting a subject I knew little about. Also, it seems that between television, radio, newspapers and life, law is an area more people need to know and understand. I really wasn’t sure if I was making the right choice until I got into my Employment Law class and was fascinated by what I didn’t know and how much I didn’t realize was unlawful, things I had actually seen or heard happen to myself or people around me.”
Edward Jorgensen, JD has been an instructor at Iowa Valley Grinnell since 2006, becoming full-time paralegal faculty in 2010. He has been a licensed attorney in Iowa since 1991 and has taught Family Law, Estate Planning and Probate Law, Business Law, Introduction to Legal Research, and Employment Law. The program also includes courses in Real Estate Law, Torts and Litigation I, Advanced Legal Research, and Legal Practicum and Ethics.
The Iowa Valley Grinnell Paralegal program prepares students to work as legal assistants to lawyers or in legal departments, insurance companies, banks, human resource departments, or state or federal government. They develop skills in researching and writing, two important qualities used in a paralegal career. Paralegal positions are growing in Iowa. The Iowa Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 23% increase in employment openings through 2016. The average salary for Iowa paralegals is approximately $43,600 annually.
“I think getting basic knowledge of different areas of the law was a huge benefit of the program. I had great instructors who worked hard to educate us in every area of the law,” adds Christie Jack. “They gave us hands-on experience in creating documents, researching cases, interviewing clients and job interview practice. Part of the curriculum also had us research how to seek and apply for jobs in our field. The instructors really did a great job preparing us for graduation and a job in the field. I always had access to my instructors either in person, by phone or by email; this kind of assistance was key to my success.”
Christie Jack graduated in May 2012 and was hired as a Legal Assistant by the Grinnell law firm, Chametski, Olson and Lacina, LLP in June. She works daily with attorneys, other legal assistants, and one-on-one with clients. Her responsibilities include drafting Wills and Petitions for Dissolutions of Marriage, preparing documents to create corporations, and Christie assists with personal injury cases and many other needs as requested by the attorneys.
“I would recommend this career path for anyone who has an interest in law,” says Christie. “A paralegal career offers variety with the many areas it covers. The field also offers knowledge with your personal life in terms of knowing your rights in the areas you choose to study.”
The Paralegal program allows students to earn a 2-year Associate’s Degree in a field with excellent professional career opportunities. For more information on the Iowa Valley Grinnell Paralegal Program contact instructor Ed Jorgensen, JD, at Edward.Jorgensen@iavalley.edu ; or call Iowa Valley Grinnell at 641-236-0513.
PHOTO CAPTION: Christie Jack, Legal Assistant, on the job at Charnetski, Olson & Lacina, LLP in Grinnell. Christie completed the Paralegal Program at Iowa Valley Community College Grinnell.