In the face of escalating program costs and a challenging local job market, Kellogg Community College will discontinue its Paralegal Program after the Summer 2014 semester.
Over the past seven years, program costs have risen to more than $225,000 per year, largely because of accreditation requirements. In order to retain accreditation by the American Bar Association, KCC maintained a law library and online resources and satisfied a host of other requirements. Costs are expected to increase in coming years.
Also, a 2012 survey by KCC of the area’s legal community showed that 50 percent of local lawyers don’t require more than a high school diploma for their paralegal positions while only a third required an associate degree. Further, the job prospects for paralegals in the Battle Creek area are decreasing. Nationally, the outlook for the paralegal profession is 18 percent growth in jobs between 2010 and 2020, but most of those jobs are concentrated in larger markets with an abundance of law firms, corporate legal departments and government agencies.
“It’s rare and difficult for us to close a program at KCC, but we do so when it’s necessary,” said Dr. Dennis Bona, president of KCC. “As a community college, we regularly assess the local economy and the needs of local employers as we tailor our programs and course offerings. In the case of Paralegal, which graduates an average of 13 students per year, we determined that, despite having a top-notch program with an excellent record, we could no longer justify the expense.”
Following an administrative recommendation, the KCC Board of Trustees voted July 17 to discontinue the Paralegal Program after a wind-down period. In early August, KCC mailed letters to Paralegal students informing them of the change and explaining the process for completing their degrees over the next year.
Susan McCabe, coordinator of the Paralegal Program, and KCC staff will work closely with the remaining students to help them finish their degrees or transfer smoothly into other programs or other colleges. After the program ends, McCabe is expected to stay employed as a KCC faculty member in the Business Management Program.
“Closing the Paralegal Program is a difficult and complex decision, but it’s the right thing to do,” McCabe said.
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