A lot of people are taking advantage of being unemployed or underemployed by starting their own business or going back to school. One such group of individuals attended an informational session on Wednesday about paralegal studies and legal writing courses offered by Extended Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Two women who stay home with their children, Emilie Cates and Andrea Reed, said although they both have degrees from UNR, they are interested in the paralegal courses in order to expand their career choices.
Cates, who has a degree in psychology, said she already signed up to take the eight-week paralegal studies certificate course.
“I signed up because I want a flexible career choice,” Cates said.
“I think it is a solid choice given the unstable trends in the economy,” said Reed, who has a degree in biology.
One woman said she is interested in the paralegal course because she currently works at a company that is unstable. She disclosed that she works in construction, but did not wish to be named or share the name of the company.
Class instructor Linda Bowman said since the economy took a downturn, she hasn’t really noticed an increase in the number of people interested in the course but has seen a change in the dynamic of students.
“We’re seeing more who have never worked in a law office,” Bowman said, along with more students who are using financial aid to pay for classes.
“We’re seeing a lot of university graduates who are looking to blend their degree with a career,” she added.
Bowman, who has been an attorney for more than 30 years, teaches the first half of the course and Sparks Municipal Court Judge James Spoo teaches the second half.
“The fact that none of you are coming from a law background is neither surprising nor fatal,” Spoo said as he addressed the group of potential students Wednesday. “A number of you are here because the job market isn’t that great.”
Spoo said he believes the job market will improve and now is the time to prepare for that day.
“This may be the time to prepare for a better job market,” he said, adding the UNR Extended Studies paralegal course is designed for people who don’t have a lot of time to attend school.
“(The course) is specifically prepared for working people,” he said. “It is an intensive eight weeks, but you will be able to handle such a job (as a paralegal).”
The skills taught during the course are not only beneficial for those who want to become paralegals, Spoo said, but can prepare those who take the class to increase their worth at jobs they already have.
“It can prepare you to be a better employee,” Spoo said. “You can combine that experience and enhance yourself where you already are.”
The next paralegal studies certificate program begins Jan. 29. For more information, visit www.extendedstudies.unr.edu or call 784-4062.