Power of Partnerships: Paralegal Project Spans 2 Quarters, Looks to Future

paralegal degree

(From left) Student Rachel Fitzgerald, student Matt Hansen, CASA program manager LaRae Oberloh, and student Brent Ammann

Paralegal degree students at Globe University-Sioux Falls partnered with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) on two separate projects, two quarters apart. First, students in the Ethics class prepared an ethics brochure for CASA for the students’ service/applied learning project.  CASA program manager, LaRae Oberloh, was so pleased with the brochure that she asked me to keep them in mind for a presentation in the future. Thus, a service learning project was added to the fall quarter 2012 Interviewing and Investigation course.

CASA’s trained volunteers advocate for abused and neglected children involved in court proceedings in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties of South Dakota. The Sioux Falls CASA Program currently has active volunteers and staff persons dedicated to making a powerful impact in the lives of these children.

I have worked with CASA and CASA volunteers in the past as an attorney representing parties in abuse and neglect cases in the Second Circuit of South Dakota.  Since I was aware of the dynamics of CASA and the fact that they are all volunteers, having our paralegal studies students create and give a presentation on basic interviewing and investigation skills for CASA volunteers was a perfect fit for the students’ applied learning project. 

On Jan. 20, 2013, the paralegal degree students presented to the CASA volunteers and staff at one of CASA’s training sessions.  Thirteen CASA volunteers listened to the students and asked follow-up questions. Students covered the basic skills an interviewer should possess, where to hold an interview, how to read body language, and the different types of people to interview.

The paralegal students–Jessica Johnson, Rachel Fitzgerald, Katelyn Hanson, Matt Hansen, and Brent Ammann–did a great job presenting this information. The volunteers listened, some took notes, and many asked questions.  I am very proud to state that during the question and answer phase, the students were able to answer the questions correctly and with ease.

paralegal degree

Student Matt Hansen discusses interviewing basics, like documenting everything and not to show your personal feelings on the subject.

CASA is a perfect organization for the Interviewing and Investigation class to present to. Our students gained hands-on experience and networking opportunities. Plus, the CASA volunteers must attend a minimum of 12 hours per year of training, and our students’ presentation helped fulfill a portion of this requirement. 

Student Matt Hansen discusses interviewing basics, like documenting everything and not to show your personal feelings on the subject.

After the presentation, LaRae Oberloh, CASA program manager, discussed continuing our partnership. 

Globe University is proud to help CASA create safe, permanent and loving homes for special children.

By Renae Kruse, Paralegal Program Chair, Globe University-Sioux Falls