Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno addressed more than 100 students, faculty and area legal professionals on Feb. 27 during Brookdale’s annual Central Jersey Paralegal Convention in the Student Life Center.
Guadagno, a former college instructor, paralegal, Monmouth County sheriff and assistant U.S. attorney and assistant attorney general for the state of New Jersey, shared some of her decades of legal experience with the audience during the convention’s keynote address.
“As good as you are, is as good as your team will be,” said Guadagno, addressing the dozens of paralegals and paralegal students in attendance. “Your skill, your ability to be meticulous, your ability to tell a story…is invaluable. The lawyers rely on you for everything.”
Guadagno, serving as the acting governor of New Jersey with Gov. Chris Christie out of state, reminisced on her own experiences as a young paralegal, recounting the long hours spent working one-on-one with clients and doing research and prep work for the lawyers in her practice.
On one occasion, she said, she was pouring through an overlooked box of files when came upon a single phone record that ultimately turned the tide for the prosecution and put an organized crime affiliate in prison for a decade.
She encouraged Brookdale students to pursue that kind of passion while in the college’s paralegal program, which she called “one of the finest in the nation.”
“I can’t overvalue what you have decided to do,” she said. “And you are in the right place. Brookdale has a state of the art certificate program, and they are the example of what paralegal programs should be. You will get the very best education in terms of how to be a paralegal, right here, right now, with the teachers that you have in this room.”
Brookdale learning assistant and conference coordinator John Costigan said the annual event is an added benefit to students in the paralegal program, which was voted one of the top three programs in the state last year.
“This is the only convention of its kind that is open to lawyers as well as paralegals and students,” he said. “Attendees are exposed to a wide range of legal professionals and organizations, allowing them to make new connections and grow in their careers.”
Attendees were able to choose from a wide range of seminars offered throughout the day, on topics such as cyber security, immigration law and “a day in the life of a paralegal.” Representatives from Rutgers and Pace universities, legal services companies and other industry vendors were also on hand to answer questions and provide information.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students like us,” said Sara Konvitz, president of the student Paralegal Club at Brookdale. “I’ll be graduating in the fall, so this is a great chance to get some resume tips, network and gain some valuable professional insight before I start applying.”
For more information on Brookdale’s paralegal program, click here.
Check out more photos of the conference here.