EMPLOYERS ARE BULLISH ON SINCLAIR PARALEGAL GRADUATES
Sinclair’s Office of Institutional Planning and Research regularly surveys local employers The goal is to determine the level of satisfaction with the knowledge, performance, and skills of Sinclair College graduates. The research office includes special questions for employers of paralegals, and prepares a special report about employer responses concerning graduates of the PAR program.
The 2005 report summary states: “In terms of technical education, comparative preparation, and skills and training, employers of PAR graduates gave high ratings to their Sinclair graduate employees. Feedback from these employers was overwhelmingly positive, and this reflects well on the performance of the PAR department. The most frequently reported areas that firms employed paralegals included litigation – personal injury, followed by estates and trusts / probate, family, juvenile, litigation – commercial, and real estate.”
The summary section notes the types of skills paralegal employers are seeking: “All employers who responded to the item regarding minimum qualifications indicated that an associate’s degree, work experience, or a combination of both were the preferred minimum qualifications for those paralegals that they hire. This would seem to indicate that Sinclair graduates would be well-positioned for employment after completing their degree, particularly if they have had some internship experience that they can count as work experience.”
Paralegal employers ranked PAR grads superior in job skills: “Ratings of PAR graduates by their employers were extremely high, with all employers giving rating of “good” or “very good” on each item. All employers gave the maximum high rating (5) to graduates for the item regarding “communication / interpersonal skills”. PAR mean ratings were higher than mean ratings for graduates from the college overall on each item. It would appear that these employers of Paralegal graduates were extremely satisfied with the performance of Sinclair PAR graduates in these areas.”
Of those employers that felt they had a basis for comparison, all of them rated the Sinclair PAR graduate as being either equally well prepared or better prepared than other employees who did not receive the same training.
The survey asked employers in which areas they utilize paralegals. Their responses were as follows, with the percent of employers who indicated that the graduate employees are employed in these areas.
When asked about what qualifications they look for in a paralegal job applicant, the most common response (37.5%) was “two year associates degree from a college”, followed by “work-related experience in addition to a degree or certificate” (25.0%). The employer respondents who mentioned work experience indicated that they preferred one or two years of work experience as part of the minimum qualifications. Most of the employers said they use newspaper advertisements, college placement offices, and contacts in college paralegal departments as resources in recruiting paralegals.
Employers were asked how many employers and how many paralegals their firms employed. On average, respondents reported that 4.0 lawyers and 2.2 paralegals were employed at their firms.
The 2005 employer survey outcome is consistent with 2004 results. The summary section in 2004 stated: “The employers of PAR graduates expressed very positive feelings about the graduates’ performance in terms of technical education, comparative preparation, and skills and training. Feedback from these employers was overwhelmingly positive, and this reflects well on the performance of the PAR department. A small number of suggestions were made for improvements, but on the whole the responses put PAR graduates in a very positive light.” About 90% of the 2004 responses ranked PAR graduates as “good” or “very good” in job skills. “It would appear,” the report says, “that these employers of Paralegal graduates were extremely satisfied with the performance of Sinclair PAR graduates in these areas.”
Among the suggestions employers made in the past two years surveys for improving paralegal education were: more internship/job experience, training on new bankruptcy laws, more concentration on on-line research and tools, more legal writing education, and preparation for a professional working attitude in the business environment.
The mean age of the Sinclair paralegal graduates who work for the employers who responded to the Sinclair surveys was 39.2 (32.3 in 2004). The mean GPA of these graduates was 3.42 (3.57 in 2004).