Criminal Division Dallas County Clerk
“I was pleased that El Centro gave me the fundamental education I needed, plus the opportunity to network in the legal and paralegal communities. While I was in there, I was a member of the Paralegal Student Association (PSA) and the Dallas Area Paralegal Association (DAPA) and in fact, was their first student liaison. I was asked to be a DAPA director at large, which I happily did, and then was offered my current position with the Criminal Division of the Dallas County Court System.
“I didn’t know how good I had it with my education from El Centro, but they by far set the bar for other paralegal programs in the area. Instructors like Carole Olson, Dudley Knox and Dan McDonald are icons in the legal and paralegal community. As students, we were just so lucky to benefit from their hands-on approach — they are absolutely the best program instructors. El Centro’s program turns out students who are so professional and prepared compared to other programs that you can really see the importance of getting that associate degree.
“The best thing about the program was the networking opportunities I had, plus the baseline of knowledge that I needed to succeed in this profession. Whether you’re going to become a paralegal or go into management, you’re going to get the foundation you need.
“Legal research is legal research, wherever you are. In fact, my first day on the job with Dallas County, my boss asked me to look up a question of Texas criminal procedure. I went home and researched the question and basically wrote a brief on it. My boss was really impressed — but it just went back to one of Carole Olson’s classes; I knew how to be prepared. I’m quickly becoming the go-to guy here and I attribute that to the base of knowledge El Centro armed me with.
“It’s important to mention the flexibility that the Paralegal program offers — there are evening, weekend and online courses you can fit into any schedule. I was not only working 40 hours a week at a law firm, but was a husband and father of two while I was going through the program. I hate to hear anyone say they can’t go to school because they don’t have the time. There are always many ways to accomplish what you want to do.
“If you want to become a paralegal professional, any advantage you can use against your competition in the workplace is fair game. Having Dallas College behind you and that degree on the wall is a wonderful way to start your career.
“El Centro is a great place to start your education and career. I can’t even think of all the opportunities that have been presented to me because of El Centro. Being involved in the student association and in networking opened doors that led me to where I am now and I’m very thankful. A paralegal education will take you as far as you want to go.”
Sedrick King attended El Centro’s Paralegal program from 2001 to 2003. He spent more than eight years in the U.S. Navy, with several years’ experience in the JAG (Judge Advocate General) corps, the legal branch of the military that deals with infractions.
While a paralegal student at El Centro, he was offered a paralegal position in a law firm. Since 2007, he has served as assistant manager of the Criminal Division of the Dallas County Court system, where he manages a staff of 86 and is responsible for all 13 of the county’s misdemeanor courts, handling cases from DWIs to domestic violence. “Basically, all misdemeanor cases in Dallas come across my desk,” he says.