Mr. Wendt joined CDEL in 2007 and is currently CDEL’s Legal Director. He started his legal career as a paralegal intern at CDEL more than 20 years ago. Mr. Wendt is active with the Chicago Bar Association, American Bar Association and is a member of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). Before joining the staff, he worked as a private attorney in the areas of commercial, investment and residential real estate, estate planning and business law and was a staff attorney with Chicago Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service.
Mr. Wendt is a contributing author to Wolter Kluwer’s Elder Law Portfolio series. Mr. Wendt also teaches Paralegal Studies at the City Colleges of Chicago, lecturing in the areas of Legal Ethics, Elder Law, Real Estate Law, and Estates & Wills. Mr. Wendt’s first paralegal text book “Illinois Real Estate Law for Paralegals” was published in 2017 by Carolina Academic Press.
Mr. Wendt earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Loyola University Chicago. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. While in law school, he studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and King’s College, London. He also earned a Master’s Degree in 2016.
My involvement with the Standing Committee came out of my years of teaching paralegal studies and a desire to become more integrated in the process of ensuring quality education for paralegals. I was a paralegal prior to attending law school. In 1996-97, while an undergrad at Loyola, I attended Paralegal school at the City Colleges of Chicago. I also was a volunteer paralegal intern at the Center for Disability & Elder Law. In 2007, I was hired as an attorney for the Center for Disability & Elder Law and in Fall, 2007 I started teaching Paralegal Studies at the same program at the City Colleges of Chicago that I attended a decade earlier. I hire, train and supervise paralegals and paralegal interns, providing experiential learning opportunities to assist paralegals to develop the skills they will need to work as paralegals.
I believe Paralegals are an under-utilized and under-valued component in the delivery of efficient, effective (and cost-effective) legal services, allowing attorneys to better leverage the services they provide to clients. Paralegals, under proper supervision, can assist attorneys in providing those services. However, with the expansion of the use of the paralegals comes the need for education, for both attorneys and paralegals, on the proper and ethical utilization of paralegal services.
I strongly believe that the ABA has a necessary role in paralegal education and in promoting the paralegal profession. However, when I was appointed to the Standing Committee, I did not know the breadth of the ABA’s involvement in paralegal education. It has become evident to me that the ABA plays a vital role in shaping paralegal education and profession as a whole.
As the primary national association for lawyers, it only makes sense that the ABA has a role in shaping paralegal education. In addition, I believe allowing paralegals to participate in ABA membership and activities helps to elevate the role of paralegals. Finally, I think the ABA fostering its role in paralegal education and helps to ensure that 1) the high standards of paralegal education are met and 2) the lines between being an attorney and a paralegal are maintained.