Zachary Berkstresser serves as a Member of the Standing Committee on Paralegals for a term beginning August 2021. Zac also serves as a Member of the TIPS CLE Board, Vice-Chair of TIPS Property Insurance Law Committee, and Vice-Chair of TIPS Self-Insurance and Risk Managers Committee. Previously Zac has been a Member of the ABA House of Delegates, TIPS Now! Fellow, and three-term Governor in the Law Student Division.
Professionally Zac is a Risk Manager for Tyson Foods, Inc. where he specializes in captive insurance, insurance placement, and claims. Zac holds a BSBA from Rockhurst University, a JD/MBA from the University of Missouri - Kansas City, an MS in Risk Management and Insurance from Florida State University, and is pursuing an LLM in Insurance Law from the University of Connecticut. Zac is a Member of the Missouri Bar and is a frequent volunteer with Missouri Disaster Legal Services in the Insurance area.
Zac has been interested in education since his time working with the Kansas City, Missouri School District. He is passionate about effective, inclusive education at all levels and looks forward to supporting and bettering paralegal education for those students in the field.
The US is at a crossroads in education: student costs continue to grow, and outcomes are far from guaranteed, leaving many students wondering if the ‘juice’ is worth the ‘squeeze’. I believe the ABA plays a critical role in the approval of paralegal programs. While any school can host a paralegal program, ABA Approval provides a reassurance to students that the school is offering a meaningful education to set them up for success. I believe my role as a Member of the Standing Committee on Paralegals is to ensure the continued value of this credential and to advocate for attorneys’ professional, effective, and ethical utilization of paralegals.
As a first-generation college student, the ABA helped welcome me to the profession and provided me with resources I didn’t even know I was missing from subject area expertise to networking. I believe the ABA can manifest this resource twofold for paralegals. First, by providing them the resources they need to thrive, and second by helping attorneys recognize the value and efficiency working with a skilled paralegal can bring them.
The attorney-paralegal relationship is one of symbiosis. Generally, a paralegal may not practice without attorney supervision; conversely many attorneys should not practice without paralegal supervision. The Committee should seek to understand and strengthen that symbiosis for the betterment of both paralegals and attorneys.
I hope to further the acceptance and support of paralegals within the ABA while ensuring high standards are met for program approval during these times of rapid change. We can and must be a voice for students so as to always make the ‘juice’ worth the ‘squeeze’.