Laura Day: Paralegal program should have been kept

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I am graduated (earlier this month) from Colorado Northwestern Community College, where I have attended classes at the Craig campus. I have earned my associates degree in paralegal studies taught by Cathy Carpenter, who was my instructor and advisor, and will remain my friend.

The paralegal program at CNCC is the only one in Northwest Colorado and has provided this community with many dedicated legal assistants who have gone on to work from Rangely to Steamboat Springs. You can find our alumni in court clerk's offices, in attorney's offices, working for the city attorney in Craig, title offices, the list goes on.

Recently, CNCC gained a new president, John Boyd. Dr. Boyd comes highly recommended. He was chosen in part by Ms. Carpenter, who was on the hiring committee. Unfortunately, he has made the decision to end the paralegal program. This decision to suspend the program, according to Dr. Boyd, was not an easy one, but it was well thought out as a necessity so that we can grow the college as a whole. It is my understanding that the paralegal program has not brought enough students to CNCC in the past two years to merit its retention. This is not surprising considering that it has not been advertised in favor of other, newer programs. Many people just don't know about it.

Unfortunately, Dr. Boyd does not yet recognize the long-term effects this will cause to our community. Because of recent federal legislation, Northwest Colorado will be seeing an increase in oil drilling to this area. With an increase in work there will be an increase in workers. In Craig, we have already been witnessing a housing shortage because of the influx of people. When populations grow, so do legal disputes, civil and criminal.

Attorneys rely on their staff's knowledge to assist them in drafting documents, legal research, investigation, many skills that a basic secretary just doesn't have. I predict that within the next five years, this region will not have enough skilled paralegals to meet the demand, and that the effectiveness of legal counsel will suffer. With a higher caseload, attorneys will need to spend longer hours over tedious details. This, coupled with time in court, travel time between counties, meetings with clients and trying to keep up with the everyday demands of families and active community participation, will tax even the hardiest members of the legal world. Attorneys are human beings. When exhausted, humans do not focus as effectively. As a whole, we will feel the ripples from Dr. Boyd's decision.

If this concerns you, I ask that you send Dr. Boyd an e-mail or write him a letter with old-fashioned pen and paper. He can be reached at John Boyd,Colorado Northwestern Community College, 500 Kennedy Drive, Rangely, CO 81648 or john.boyd@cncc.edu.

Laura Day

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