“If you are really interested in being a paralegal and being effective, you should go through the [paralegal] program at Pima,” said Adrianne Gutierrez, who graduated from the program with an Associate of Applied Science in 2016 and now is a senior paralegal with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office in the Southern Arizona White Collar Crime and Enterprises Section.
Gutierrez first attended Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona in 1999 right out of high school but, by her own telling, wasn’t very focused. She would work for legal firms in various capacities over the next decade, first in Arizona, then California, where she moved with her husband in 2003, and discovered both a love and a strong aptitude for the law field. She also took college classes off-and-on.
Gutierrez and her family returned to Tucson in late 2012 and she re-enrolled at Pima in early 2013.
“I’ve always been comfortable at Pima, so I started there. And I was 100% more focused as an adult student. Just knowing what I wanted to do as a career, it had more purpose,” Gutierrez said. “To get in (to a government job as she desired), you had to have your paralegal degree.”
Gutierrez then took 48 credits in just one year at Pima and Northern Arizona University, completing her bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies with an emphasis in Public Administration from NAU in 2017 (and “accidentally finished’’ her liberal arts degree at Pima). She earned her master’s degree in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Justice Studies from NAU in 2019. In addition to working as a paralegal, she hopes to use her education and experience to train future paralegals, possibly at Pima.
Gutierrez said she’s worked with paralegals who have gone through Pima’s program and they come in well-equipped to handle the demands of the job: “They know how to research, look up and analyze information.”
“Pima’s paralegal program is just incredible. A lot of the instructors are active paralegals or attorneys who recognize the value of paralegals,” she said. “They provide hands-on training and real-world information. You get a very solid foundation as a paralegal.”
-Submitted by Gwen Gorbette, Program Director, Paralegal Program, Pima Community College