Faculty Feature: Attorney Turns to Teaching
I meet with faculty and students quite a bit, and I like to share their stories. This is an occasional series.
Gerald is an attorney, a paralegal, and a teacher. Since the time he was attending Smiley Middle School in Denver, he wanted to teach in the legal field.
Early start fed passion
“I’ve always liked to read cases,” Gerald says. “The Constitution always got my attention. I like the process of passing laws, and the interpreting of laws.
A teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School fed Gerald’s desire. “My American Government class really got me going,” Gerald says. “My teacher would have us look up legislation in the library.”
Then, at the University of Northern Colorado, Gerald received advice from his counselor, who also was an attorney, and a judge, who was his Business Law instructor. Come to my courtroom and see what happens, the judge-instructor told him.
So Gerald went. He was fascinated.
Paralegal and Intern
Law school was on the horizon, but Gerald attended the Denver Paralegal Institute first. An internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver exposed him to criminal and civil procedures as well as drug enforcement operations. He also set up a procedural manual for the operations of the office.
Before graduating from the University of Denver Law School, Gerald was working for an attorney in private practice. The attorney specialized in criminal defense.
After he himself became an attorney in private practice, Gerald had friends who were teaching law-related college classes.
When Gerald was invited in 1994 to teach the Legal Environment of Business (BUS 216) at FRCC, he had reached his goal – to teach in the legal field.
In 1997, he opened the Paralegal Studies program, a pioneering effort in the online world. “Online is more work for the teacher and the students,” Gerald says. “But it’s also more inclusive. Students who can’t attend a scheduled class can find time for online classes. Some classes, however, require face-to-face contact. We make that as convenient as possible, meeting one night a week.”
“Teaching keeps me up to date on everything,” he says. “I have to be well informed on all the new laws. I’m always reading law reviews for changes in the law.”
Although some television dramas may “follow the headlines” in their plot lines and broadcast news gives the headlines, “I tell students not to rely on TV,” Gerald says. “I tell them to read the decisions themselves. See the process. See the things they don’t tell you on television.”