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A new degree program offered at Atsugi Naval Air Facility will help community members in the Kanto Plain start a career in legal affairs.

Central Texas College will launch a new two-year paralegal program for the first time in several years.

The Associate Degree in Applied Science, Legal Assistant program will prepare students for jobs as legal researchers, paralegals and legal assistants.

“This is very applicable to almost every kind of business,” said Willie Pomeroy, the college’s director for mainland Japan. “Everyone needs some kind of legal research person. Maybe not a lawyer but a person to do their research.”

Graduates can work in private law offices, government agencies or real estate firms. They are also qualified to conduct research and help write legal briefs.

“It’s very exciting; you’re not just filing things,” she said.

The paralegal field is one of the top 20 fastest growing in the States. Starting salaries are generally about $32,000, Pomeroy said.

The program requires 72 credit hours, which require roughly two years’ full-time attendance. Students who transfer duty locations to Europe and the States can continue the program at Central Texas College offices in those places, Pomeroy said.

Servicemembers, Japanese contract employees and Department of Defense civilians are eligible, as are dependents in their senior year of high school or higher, she added.

Central Texas College held an open house to answer questions about the program last week. Pomeroy said attendees included sailors, dependents and a Japanese national.

Some said they hoped to use the course as a steppingstone for law school; others had an eye toward government service or real estate jobs.

“Someone who’s a legalman, if they get this under their belt, can move into a (government service) position if that’s what they like,” Pomeroy said.

Registration for the first class, “Introduction to law and the legal profession,” begins May 17. The class, scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday nights, starts in early June.

Claudia Brathwaite — who has worked as both a military and civilian lawyer, Pomeroy said — will teach the class.

Call Sachiko Keele at Atsugi at 264-3530, or the college’s main office in Japan, at Camp Zama, at 263-4538, for more information.

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