When students think about a career in law, their first images are usually lawyers
and judges dramatically fighting for justice, objecting loudly in court and delivering
verdicts that put the guilty behind bars. But the legal profession is not limited
to attorneys and judges. Paralegals are a vital and significant group, and at Midland
College (MC) there are different options to get a legal technician certification and/or
paralegal associate degree. Students can choose from an all online track or evening
Meagan Cox graduated from MC’s paralegal program in 2018. She immediately started
working in the field at Davis, Gerald & Cremer. She explains some of her duties as
a working paralegal.
“Whenever the law firm gets documents, I read through them,” Cox said. “I summarize
them so the attorney can see the important information at a glance and decide if it
is something they specifically need.”
Jennifer Garcia will receive her paralegal certificate this spring and her associate
degree from MC next year. She adds the following to a paralegal’s duties.
“Paralegals are the face of the law office,” Garcia said. “We are an important extension
of the attorney for whom we are working. Our job is to make the attorneys’ lives easier.
Paralegals have to be organized. We have to know where everything is, and we have
to know what the attorneys need before they even tell us.”
“Being organized is definitely the number one trait that makes a good paralegal,”
Cox said. “It is also important to be inquisitive. I like to know how and why things
may have happened. So when I go through documents, I read for those important details.
Finally, you have to like working in a fast-paced environment and taking on challenges.
Situations change; cases are always different, and assignments vary on a daily basis.
All those responsibilities make for very interesting and fulfilling work.”
Both Cox and Garcia agree that the paralegal career is growing. The firm where Cox
was interning hired her after MC graduation. She said that another paralegal was also
recently hired in her office. Garcia explained that a lot of attorneys who visit MC
classes say they have jobs waiting for graduates. The strong employment outlook especially
applies to the Permian Basin area. A lot of booming oil and gas companies employ paralegals
to help with the legal processes of land owning and title documents.
"The valuable skills developed through the paralegal program at MC translate well
to positions with oil and gas companies operating in the Permian Basin," Kathryn Chandler,
a professional in the field said. "Paralegal graduates have the communication and
organization expertise that make them a great team member to work with landmen, operations
teams, and land and mineral owners. MC's program is an asset to the community, and
I look forward to seeing it grow."
The salary, benefits and work life balance for a paralegal are very competitive and
enticing for graduates. Cox says she has a great work-life balance, working 8:00 a.m.
to 5:00 p.m., and she earns more than her other friends with associate degrees.
The fact that paralegals have many options for their education is also a benefit.
Garcia has enjoyed attending MC for many reasons.
“MC costs a lot less compared to other universities, and I can live at home,” Garcia
said. “I can take care of my family, keep everything under control and balance it
all. I will be the first in my family to get a degree, and MC has supported me every
step along the way. At MC I am not just another student; the professors give me personal
attention and everyone--classmates and staff—are really helpful and friendly. It is
definitely the place you want to start your educational journey.”
Garcia’s professors speak highly of her abilities.
“Jennifer is motivated and excels in the paralegal coursework,” Charity Rohlfs, paralegal
instructor said. “One way she uses her paralegal training and passion for helping
others is volunteering at Legal Aid of North West Texas. She will be an amazing addition
to any team she joins.”
“The MC paralegal program helped me a lot with writing,” Cox said. “Even though the
law firm I worked for was looking for an entry level, trainable employee, being able
to say I had a degree in paralegal studies from MC helped me get my foot in the door.
MC set me up for success; without it I would have struggled and not been given the
opportunities I have had so far in my young career.”
Photo Left to Right: Meagan Cox and Jennifer Garcia