The department partnered with the paralegals of Best Best & Krieger LLP (BB&K) to hold an inaugural Job Shadow Day March 2. The event was hosted by BB&K in Riverside. The firm has 200 attorneys specializing in environmental, business, school, municipal and telecommunications law at eight offices statewide, including Ontario, and a ninth office in Washington, D.C.
“This was a great idea, and a great success,” said Abel Chen, a professor at Chaffey College and a founder of the paralegal studies program. “Students were able to observe firsthand the work environment and job requirements of paralegals in a large law firm.”
Chen said the goal of the program is to show students how the theories and processes they learn in class are applied on the job. The department plans to expand the job shadowing program and continue it on an annual basis.
Dianna Valdez, who works as a paralegal for BB&K and serves on the college’s paralegal studies advisory committee, came up with the idea to have students shadow professional paralegals. She worked for a year to develop the fledgling program.
Graduating seniors were invited to attend the event. Valdez hopes they picked up useful information that will help them with their job search. Given the economic downturn, Valdez said it’s critical for students to understand the importance of networking. She also recommends volunteering with legal aid organizations as a way to gain relevant work experience.
“I know it’s tough out there,” she said. “I hope they can go out there and be creative in their thinking and be a little entrepreneurial.”
Student Leslie Rivas, 47, of Ontario, is pursuing a second career as a paralegal after she lost her job as an account manager with a major business services company that downsized. She described the job shadow program as incredibly beneficial.
“First and foremost, I had never been in a law office of that magnitude,” Rivas said. “Going in, everybody was so warm and inviting and open.”
With her graduation set for May, Rivas is in the process of securing an externship in the superior court system. The Job Shadow Day brought to light some different facets of law which she wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to.
“It really put into perspective a day in the life,” she said. “And it solidified my choice in this industry.”
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About the Desert Regional Consortium of Community Colleges: The Desert Regional Consortium consists of 13 community colleges and two community college districts in Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern counties. The consortium assists colleges in providing professional development opportunities and designing programs to improve workforce training and technical education. The consortium was formed to address the economic development needs of industry, government and the community.
More info about the Consortium: www.desertcolleges.org
Consortium members: Barstow Community College, Cerro Coso Community College, Chaffey College, College of the Desert, Copper Mountain College, Crafton Hills College, Mt. San Jacinto College, Moreno Valley College, Norco College, Palo Verde College, Riverside City College, Riverside Community College District, San Bernardino Community College District, San Bernardino Valley College, Victor Valley College.