UTSA celebrated graduates from two classes of the Paralegal Certificate Program in a special ceremony on Saturday, December 18, at the Buena Vista Theater at the UTSA Downtown Campus.
The Paralegal Certificate Program, which began in 1989, delivers a broad-based education focusing on civil litigation, wills and probates, contracts, criminal law, and family law. The program fills a vital need in the state, as Texas has the third-highest employment rate of paralegals in the nation.
"Through our experienced faculty, a contemporary legal curriculum, and partnerships with local law firms and professional organizations such as the San Antonio Paralegal Association, UTSA is dedicated to graduating students that are prepared to be top performers in the legal field," said Melissa Mahan, associate vice provost for UTSA's division of Academic Innovation. In her role, Mahan also manages UTSA's Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE) programming.
"The mission of PaCE is to create a strong workforce that meets the need of employers in San Antonio and the state," Mahan said. "The educational journey does not stop now. Lifelong learning must be a top priority as the world transforms."
In Texas, paralegal positions are expected to grow at a rate of 26%, between 2018 and 2028, almost seven times faster than the average growth rate for all occupations nationwide. PaCE’s Paralegal Certificate Program can be completed in under a year and is designed and taught by local, practicing attorneys to prepare students to be knowledgeable, ethical and effective.
"You cannot have a successful legal practice without having a strong team. That includes paralegals," said graduation guest speaker Joe Gonzales, Bexar County criminal district attorney. "Paralegals are the backbone of the legal community. Paralegals are a client's first contact. It is your professionalism that will attract clients to your office."
Due to pandemic restrictions, the 120 participants who had graduated during 2020 and spring/summer 2021 were not able to attend ceremonies. To celebrate their achievements, all graduates were invited to a special ceremony at the UTSA Downtown Campus.
"When I applied for the Paralegal Program, I was still an undergraduate at UTSA majoring in politics and law," said Isabella Chavez, a paralegal program graduate. "Politics is seasonal, so when I move on from politics, I can start working as a paralegal, in hopes of working in the district attorney's office as a victim advocate."
As a continuing education incubator, Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE) delivers skills-focused, innovative programming that satisfies the fluid learning demands of life-long learners. The values of Innovation, Accessibility and Excellence are realized through a dedicated team of specialists with a combined 30 years of continuing education experience.