Date: October 12, 2010
In a big step toward enhancing the career paths of Southwest Tennessee Community College Paralegal Program graduates, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) has approved the college's testing centers to offer the NALA Computerized Certified Paralegal examination, according to Professor Gwynne Hutton, J.D., program coordinator for Paralegal Studies. An official announcement of the new testing centers will be made at the fall Greater Memphis Paralegal Alliance (GMPA) Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Seminar, to be held in the Bert Bornblum Library of the Southwest Macon Cove Campus on October 15.
Nationwide, some employers require the Certified Paralegal credential for employment, Hutton noted, "and others have utilized it as a growth path for their paralegals. By serving as a local testing center for the exam, Southwest is providing a great service to its students as well as paralegals in the Memphis area." According to Clara Murray, local paralegal, president of GMPA and liaison for NALA, "This certification should be a part of the career management tools of all joining the paralegal profession and making it the focus of their career." In private law offices nationally, she added, those with the credential generally have higher billing rates, which are accepted by courts when awarding attorney fee award petitions. And in corporations, the certified paralegal program is used to provide professional growth for paralegal staff members.
The Paralegal Studies Program at Southwest is approved by the American Bar Association. Through an articulation agreement with the University of Memphis, students completing the two-year degree program at Southwest may transfer to the University of Memphis to complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree in Paralegal Studies. They may then take the law school entrance exam and apply to law school. "Several Southwest graduates have taken this path and are now giving back to the Paralegal Studies Program at Southwest by teaching in the program at Southwest," commented Hutton.
Since Southwest now offers the Computerized Certified Paralegal Exam, graduates of the program will be able to take the exam locally and more quickly than in the past. The college's two full-time testing centers at the Union Avenue and Macon Cove campuses, both members of the NCTA-National College Testing Association, offer more than 20 exams for college admissions, departmental and graduation requirements, and for community services. Southwest, NALA and GMPA are helping support career development for students and paralegals in the Mid-South. They look forward to providing paralegals with excellent educational opportunities and the opportunity to become certified, obtained by successfully completing the NALA certification exam.
For more information contact: Pat O'Brien, (901) 333-4021, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134