Del Mar’s paralegal program recognized

The Paralegal Studies Program has regained approval by the American Bar Association after a 37-year hiatus.

Del Mar is one of 12 colleges and universities in Texas to be approved by the American Bar Association. The program originally had approval from 1976-82. Following those years, the program was let go.

Gail Dorn, associate professor/program director of the paralegal program, began working for the program in August 2012 and pushed for the re-approval.

“At the time, it was my only goal to get this program approved,’’ Dorn said. “It took long to get there, but it happened.”

Dorn knew how vital the ABA approval would be to the program and students.

“If you are in an approved program, it is a message to everybody that the program has very high standards,” Dorn said. “It means there is a very high quality of not only the program content, but a high quality of the professors in it.

Bold modifications were made to the program to achieve the approval, Dorn said. 

The program changed from 67 hours to 60 hours in 2012.

The practicum was changed to be more paralegal oriented. Major changes were made to the courses offered by replacing technical classes with law classes suited for the program.

The approval doesn’t give students the full paralegal certification, but it can help improve pay and job opportunities. The ABA approval will give paralegal graduates advancement toward their own career. 

“Some organizations won’t allow students to achieve certain certificates, unless their program is ABA approved,” Dorn said. “It is good for the students” 

The program made a big change in the law, office and technology. A program was adopted from The National Society of Legal Technology, which benefited the students who completed the 12 programs with certifications for them.

Dorn worked for the approval for years and continues to work for more. 

“My next goal is that we can actually develop a class where they can become certified paralegals when they graduate,” Dorn said. “I’m working on that next”

For more information about the paralegal program, visit Room 149 in the Venters Business Building or call 361-698-1372.

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