The sudden loss of San Francisco State’s Paralegal Studies’ (PLS) beloved Program Director Pat Medina was felt by the paralegal and legal community around the world.
Palmira “Pat” Medina began her career as a high school English teacher but loved the law and took night classes while raising her two young children. After working as a litigation paralegal for over 20 years, Pat joined the PLS faculty in 1981 at a time when only attorneys were hired to teach paralegal classes. In 1989, she published Paralegal Discovery Procedures and Forms, a discovery manual for all working litigation paralegals.
Pat became Director of PLS in 2001 and is widely considered the “mother” of this popular and respected ABA-approved program. Over 1,700 graduates from all walks of life experienced Pat’s leadership and devotion as she guided them through their coursework, internships, first jobs, and further career moves. The PLS website contains dozens of graduates’ success stories.
Some highlights of the program include:
- Students who participate in Pat’s Special Placement Internship Program receive class credit while learning leadership and technical skills. These opportunities prepare students for the real world and frequently lead to immediate job offers.
- Academic and career counseling
- Assistance with revising their resumés to highlight transferable skills
- Graduates can return and audit classes at a discount
Because of Pat’s stellar reputation and impressive roster of professors, students are willing to travel hundreds of miles to attend classes. Employers hire graduates of the PLS program without hesitation, trusting they are well prepared for any task at hand.
Many former students became instructors, lawyers, and now hire interns and graduates, ensuring Pat’s legacy continues. Pat had a talent for matching her students with precisely the right job and students and graduates of the PLS program are now working at nonprofits, law libraries, public sector government agencies, top-tier law firms, public defender and district attorney offices, and multinational corporations – including Google and Twitter.
Pat was dedicated to serving the paralegal community and working with professional organizations, corporations, and law firms in collaboration with the PLS program to introduce new paralegals to the legal field. The foundations of Pat’s success were her love of people, of teaching and her deep understanding of the complex tasks, skills, and responsibilities required of paralegals (writing and research, case management, time recording, etc.) as well as the needs of employers. She created a thriving network of students, graduates, and employers.
Upon learning of Pat’s demise, one graduate wrote: “You are still today and will forever be my guiding light and inspiration.”
Gone, but never forgotten, Pat’s legacy will live on within the hearts of all who knew her.
About the author:
Ana Fatima Costa, Marketing Coordinator of BASF’s Paralegal Section, has been an advisory board member at SF State’s Paralegal Studies Program since 2005.