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Distinguished graduates

Sally Cadirci

Cadirci

Here's what her colleagues say: Sally Cadirci works tirelessly as a Board member for the USD Paralegal Program Alumni Association. She assists with everything from organizing Continuing Legal Education classes to obtaining door prizes for Membership Appreciation Night. She is organized and a "take charge, get things done" kind of person.

Current position and employer: Paralegal IV, QUALCOMM, Inc., San Diego, CA

Job duties: I monitor customer bankruptcies, file proofs of claim when appropriate and coordinate efforts to have our executory contract assumed by the Debtor. When it becomes necessary to retain local counsel, I work with them to get the required motions filed to seek relief from stay. In some instances we negotiate a stipulated order agreeing to the terms of the assumption and cure of the default.

I prepare Independent Contractor Agreements, Service Center Agreements, Tower Leases, Non-Disclosure Agreements, and miscellaneous other agreements and amendments thereto.

I get involved in special projects as needed such as driver distraction issues and the input of all of our division's contracts into a new software program for tracking and management.

Education and training:

University of San Diego Paralegal Program, Paralegal Certificate, 2001

Marquette University, Legal Secretary Certificate, 1974

University of Wisconsin, Madison, General Education courses

Why did you enroll in the paralegal program? For many years I had been performing the same type of work as a paralegal, but without the formal title and pay. I decided it was time to make it official and get the certificate I needed to obtain the title of Paralegal. I had heard from others at work that USD's program was the best in the area.

Which class helped you the most? The Legal Research class was probably the most helpful because it touched on so many skills: writing, communication, ethics, research, problem solving, etc. I had never really had to do any true legal research in any of my jobs so this class really taught me a lot and tested my abilities. Richard Valdez was definitely my favorite instructor in the program. He provided a lot of valuable feedback on our writing efforts and was always accessible for questions and assistance when we needed him. (See our Distinguished Faculty sections for more on Richard Valdez).

Proudest professional accomplishment: From a personal point of view, my proudest moment was completing the USD Paralegal Program with Honors while working full time, raising two children on my own and working part time jobs at the same time. On a work related level, I would have to say that I am very proud that I have been able to save my employer in excess of $1,000,000 by defending preference claims in the past several years.

Advice for those entering the field: Be prepared for hard work. Enter the Paralegal Program only if you are really serious about completing it and giving it 100 percent.


Jennifer Duncan

Here's what her colleagues say: Jennifer successfully supports senior citizens in representation and advocacy before such agencies as Social Security, Medi-Cal and Welfare agencies. Gaining advocacy skills and interest Jennifer sculpted the Inyo Mono Senior Legal Program to one that received the "Legal Services Advocacy" award from California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform in May 2002.

Duncan

Current position and employer: Paralegal/Senior Program Administrator, California Indian Legal Services

Job duties: I currently administer Inyo Mono Senior Legal Program Services for seniors through interviews and legal evaluation on issues. Working with attorneys, I handle new clients, document and assess issues and recommend solutions and referrals. Additionally, I develop community education and community materials for self-education and self-help materials on a wide range of poverty law and elder law issues.

Education and training:

University of San Diego Paralegal Program, Paralegal Certificate with Honors, 1982

Mesa College, General Education, 1974

Why did you enroll in the paralegal program? After working in the District Attorney's office I decided I wanted to advance my interest in working with the legal system. I was particularly interested in promoting equal access to justice and decided helping attorneys was an appropriate start.

Which class helped you the most? Frank Fox, the litigation teacher, made class fun and interesting. He was light-hearted but he instilled in the class the importance of taking your time and picking apart each case. He had us focus in on what the court was saying "in between the lines." That's something only a good teacher can provide for the class.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Delivering legal services to elders and those less fortunate for the past 20 years. If I were to "toot my own horn," it would be for having the opportunity and privilege to help traumatized seniors regain what they are entitled to, be it legal rights, entitlements to public benefits or protections that had somehow faded or were not explained to them.

Advice for those entering the field: You can make a difference. Never overstep your boundaries for paralegal practice and be proud to be a part of the process that advances human rights for equality and justice. Work hard, be honest, and never hesitate to ask questions of the supervising attorney. If you can't find an answer call on those who have more experience-most often they are happy to share.


Virginia Milke

Here's what her colleagues say: Virginia inspired me to make a career change and attend the paralegal program. She takes the ethics of the profession very seriously. She has worked her way up to increasingly responsible positions in the paralegal field.

Virginia Milke

Current position and employer: Corporate secretary (elected corporate officer position) at Premier Inc., a group purchasing organization for the health care industry.

Job duties: Responsible for developing, overseeing, implementing and driving corporate processes for Premier. I am also responsible for monitoring the corporate governance activities including drafting and maintaining committee, board and shareholder meeting minutes, and the preparation of the supportive material for such meetings. In addition, I am responsible for corporate compliance issues such as annual meetings, solicitation of proxies, preparation of proxy ballots, tracking and preparing annual reports and other necessary filings in multiple state jurisdictions.

Education and training:

University of San Diego Paralegal Program, Paralegal Certificate, 1988

University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), BS Education (with honors); 1986

Why did you enroll in the paralegal program? I was interested in pursuing law as a profession, but did not have any experience in the field. I thought obtaining a Paralegal Certificate would give me a good introduction and help me decide whether or not I wanted to commit the time and money to go to law school. I've had such an interesting and rewarding career as a paralegal that I stayed. I think obtaining my certificate was the smartest career move I ever made.

Which class helped you the most? I got the most out of the Introduction to Litigation class. The teacher did a great job using her real-life experiences to make the topic come alive. I also greatly benefited from a tour of the courthouse. That knowledge really paid off when shortly after I landed my first paralegal job, my boss sent me to pull information from a case, and I knew exactly where I was going and how to do it.

Proudest professional accomplishment: I found a clause in a Special Events Contract that saved an employer a $150,000 cancellation fee. I had gone to Cape Canaveral for a rocket launch where my company had planned and paid for a huge celebratory party at a famous entertainment park. Shortly before the launch, lightning struck the launch tower causing a delay. The park was non-negotiable on the cancellation fee until I spotted a Force Majure clause buried in the fine print. After much discussion and faxes flying, the park honored the clause, waived the fee, and rescheduled the event. Thereafter the park changed their boilerplate contract and eliminated the clause. I am also proud of having gone to the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Russia's Cape Canaveral) for three rocket launches to monitor my employer's adherence to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Advice for those entering the field: Never burn any bridges. Network and learn as much as you can from people that have been around awhile. Don't forget San Diego has a small legal community, and after awhile it seems like everybody knows somebody or has a connection somehow.


Jon Montgomery Here's what his colleagues say: Jon is one of the leading real estate paralegals in Orange County. He has been President of both the Orange County Paralegal Association and the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations. He was also named Paralegal of the Year by Five Star Legal and Compliance Systems. His dedication to the advancement of paralegals makes him one of USD's most outstanding graduates.

Current position and employer: Senior Paralegal - Real Estate Specialist; Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP (Orange County Office)

Job duties: Assist Orange County Real Estate Practice Group with various aspects related to real estate acquisitions, dispositions, financing and leasing.

Education and training:

University of San Diego Paralegal Program, Paralegal Certificate, 1982

University of California Irvine, BA , Political Science, 1979

Why did you enroll in the paralegal program? Prior to my enrollment at USD, I was attending a small paralegal program in Orange County that closed before I could complete all of the classes needed to get a paralegal certificate from their program. Since I was already doing some freelance paralegal work, I felt that I needed a certificate from an ABA approved paralegal program to be credible with large firms. USD had a well-respected paralegal program, so I decided to move to San Diego and enroll.

Which class helped you the most? Martin Weiss taught corporate law as if he were teaching first year law students. He had very high expectations and that was very helpful in preparing for a real law firm environment. He not only taught skills and knowledge related to corporate practice, but he also gave some very sage advice that has at times been even more helpful than the legal knowledge and skills he taught.

Proudest professional accomplishment: I am most pleased with my work with the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations in connection with crafting the paralegal definition statute, Business and Professions Code Section 6450 et seq.

Advice for those entering the field: Never rest on prior education, experience and achievements. Always strive to be a better person and to do more for others and for your community.

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