MANCHESTER, Conn. (April 10, 2017) — Manchester Community College alumnus Perry Charnas ’16 had tried a number of higher education avenues before deciding to enroll at the University of Connecticut to major in political science.
But despite a solid GPA at UConn, upon graduation in 2015 he realized he needed further credentialing to increase his employability. He turned to MCC and its 23-credit paralegal certification program. Charnas not only thrived in the program, but he also became actively involved in student life, joining the MCC Paralegal Association and the MCC Political Union.
A paralegal or legal assistant is a person qualified through education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity. The paralegal performs specifically delegated, substantive legal work, for which a lawyer is responsible. MCC’s paralegal certificate program is designed for students who have or will concurrently receive an educational (not vocational) associate or baccalaureate degree in a major other than paralegal or legal studies from an accredited institution. It is primarily an evening program of study, offering legal courses during the academic year. Many students work full-time while attending classes at night.
Part of the program is a cooperative education/work experience course, in which students gain practical experience in a legal setting while earning academic credit. Through the MCC Cooperative Education office, Charnas landed an internship experience with Brown Paindiris & Scott (BP&S), a law firm with several offices in Connecticut. His involvement in the student clubs as well as the reputation of the American Bar Association-recognized MCC paralegal program, made Charnas an attractive candidate to the firm.
During his internship, he worked alongside other paralegal staff members to complete interrogatories, trial notebooks, medical summaries, disclosure of expert witness letters and complete administrative tasks. “BP&S gave me practical experience that enabled me to land a job,” he said. “It made a real difference on my resume to have been involved in actual cases.”
The job he landed, in fact, was with BP&S. Upon completing his required 120 hours as an intern, the firm extended an offer to Charnas to work full-time starting June 1, 2016.
Charnas knows that the experience he gained through the MCC program, especially the internship, gave him just what he needed to stand out in the job market. “I worked very hard the days that I had my internship hours at the firm and I consider myself to be very fortunate that I was offered a full-time job afterwards,” he said.
During the internship he was helping with cases that involved both plaintiff and defendant sides in personal injury litigations, automobile accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, as well as malpractice, and he is currently completing those cases as part of his full-time job.
“Perry has done outstanding work; he is earnest, professional, a good writer and he has shown real promise,” according to Sean Peoples, the BP&S attorney who supervised Charnas’ internship.
For this own part, Charnas is pleased with the way his career options are much wider following his paralegal certification. The future looks bright as he continues to build on his success at BP&S.
MCC also offers a 60-credit paralegal associate degree, and is currently enrolling students in its’ Fall 2017 paralegal courses. To find our more, go to www.manchester.edu/paralegal.