Professor Mark Baum marks the beginning of a new chapter in the SPSCC Paralegal Program. He plans to make changes that will enhance the skills and qualifications of students seeking an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Paralegal.
Baum moved to Washington from Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1977 to attend the Gonzaga University School of Law. He was the son of an immigrant and the first in his family to attend college. In 1981 he began a career as a litigator working in a firm with two partners. He focused on criminal, family and business law.
Baum began teaching when his son and daughter were old enough to go to law school and college, respectively. He began working at Clark College from 2009-2012. Then, from 2012-2014, he taught paralegal studies and developed a Student Legal Service Clinic at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky. When he and his wife returned to the Pacific Northwest, he decided to apply for the position here at SPSCC. “It offered academic opportunities that fit with my personality, teaching style, and desire to grow the program,” said Baum.
SPSCC President Timothy Stokes, Ph.D., selected him to replace Paralegal Professor George Darkenwald. When asked how the decision came to be, Baum said “we chose each other.”
Baum aims to certify the program through the American Bar Association (ABA) and as well as add courses valued by attorneys, like evidence development. This will eventually lead to graduates being able to prepare for certification as Limited Licensed Legal Technicians (LLLT) This is a groundbreaking effort by Washington as they will be the first state to have LLLTs. Post-graduates would also be able to add these courses to their resumé, enhancing their value as a paralegal and enabling them to seek certification as an LLLT.
“We want our degree to be designed in order to help students with certification,” Baum emphasized. He said LLLTs would be able to provide limited legal advice, mostly in the area of family law, which has been viewed to be a significant portion of legal practice.
Having LLLTs would make legal advice affordable to those with limited incomes, said Baum. This is an area of emphasis supporting Baum’s passion for working on pro bono cases. He said he feels that pro bono work is not only a part of professional development, but also an obligation of attorneys and paralegals to their communities.
“I look forward to the great opportunities our program will bring to students and our community,” said Baum.