By Rachel Lee, Cohen & Malad LLP
On February 18, 2014, a group of volunteers from the IndyBar Paralegal Committee had an opportunity to go back to college. Thankfully it was not in a textbook and homework kind of way, but instead to participate in a paralegal "speed dating" event. Now, before the spouses of our volunteers start to panic, let me clarify. This was not a live matchmaking program in the typical sense. The purpose of the event was to match IUPUI paralegal students up with professional paralegals who are already working in the legal industry. It was a fresh new take on the typical 'panel' of speakers. It was less formal and encouraged the students who would not typically ask questions during a presentation to interact with their own individual speaker.
The paralegal "speed dating" event was organized by IndyBar Paralegal Committee Chair, Julia Kleinschmidt, in tandem with Erin Engels J.D., Director of Paralegal Studies and Paralegal and Pre-Law Academic Advisor at IUPUI. It took place during Ms. Engels' Advanced Legal Writing class. The students were separated into groups of three or four. Each paralegal spent 10 minutes with a group, and then a buzzer would sound indicating that the paralegal should move to the next group.
As a graduate of the IUPUI certification program, you can imagine my excitement to go back and speak to the students. However, I have only been a paralegal for about a year and, needless to say, I was a little nervous. What if I didn't have enough to say? What if I couldn't answer their questions? I had no idea what to expect! But I quickly realized that being so new to the profession meant that I had a lot of useful information to share. The students were seemingly anxious and excited to ask questions relating to salary, interviewing, workload, and so much more. I truly believe that the intimate setting encouraged the students to ask questions they would not have asked in a typical panel setting.
As a result of the success of the first event, a second paralegal "speed dating" event took place on April 17, 2014. This time, the event was open to all IUPUI students working towards their paralegal certification. The event proved to be a rewarding experience for the students. There was an overwhelming number of professional paralegals who participated, so the students were able to "speed date" with two paralegals at a time. Some of the students were interested in hearing the paralegals talk about themselves. My co-presenter and I happen to excel at "talking," so this was a great experience for us. Other students wanted some perspective on entering into the legal industry and took advantage of the advice we could give. The students are a fresh and eager audience.
Sharing our passion for the paralegal profession to those who we may one day be mentoring is rewarding. If you are interested in taking part in future events such as this one, please contact Julia Kleinschmidt.