Career Talk: “Justice Served, A Prosecutor’s View of the Law”

11-13-14 GRAPHIC, RICHARD SACHS

A monthly series of conversations with UC San Diego Extension instructors

  • Topic: “Justice Served: A Prosecutor’s View of the Law”
  • Host: John Freeman, Director of Communications, UC San Diego Extension
  • Guest: Richard Sachs, Instructor, Criminal Law & Procedure and Evidence Law

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

An Extension instructor in Paralegal, Richard Sachs teaches two courses, Criminal Law & Procedure and Evidence Law. He’s also a long-time prosecutor and deputy district attorney with the City of San Diego.

It’s his job to make sure convicted criminals serve sufficient prison time before parole, a process known as “lifer hearings.” Throughout his career, he has regarded law as “endlessly fascinating.”

Quotable:

  • “The majority of our cases are for murder, first- or second-degree murder. A small minority are for kidnapping, rape or robbery. … Most of the time, we’re opposed to parole. If I was to put a number on it, it would probably be about 95 percent.”

This Career Talk Radio podcast is part of Career Channel. You can subscribe to Career Talk Radio via iTunes.

 

A Caseload of Seeking Justice: “It’s My Job to Represent the Best Interests of the State”

As a long-time prosecutor and deputy district attorney, Richard J. Sachs has always been focused on a singular task: to seek justice. “That’s the main reason I do what I do,” he says, reflecting on his nearly 30-year career with the San Diego District Attorney’s office, headed by Bonnie Dumanis.

Richard Sachs: "For me, teaching turns the clock back a hundred years."

Richard Sachs: “For me, teaching turns the clock back a hundred years.”

An English Literature graduate of Chicago’s Loyola University and John Marshall Law School, he has been an instructor in UC San Diego Extension’s paralegal program for 10 years. Currently, he’s teaching Criminal Law & Procedure and Evidence Law.

Q: In your career with the district attorney’s office, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about yourself and the law?

A: Probably that you never stop learning. You’re always learning new variations of things you thought you already knew. You always have to continue practicing the practice of law.

Q: What’s your specialty with the DA’s office?

A: I focus on parole hearings for those offenders who are coming up for parole after serving long periods in prison.

Q: So it’s your job to make sure they’ve served enough time before being released?

A: It’s my job to represent the best interests of the state. Most of the time, yes, we don’t want them to be released. We want to make reasonably sure they’ve served enough time for the crime or crimes they have committed.

Q: What is your level of empathy?

A: It’s only for the victims. Every crime leaves behind a victim. Sometimes, you can understand why they committed their crimes, because of a bad childhood or something like that. But in this office, we always have more sympathy for the victims.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching at UC San Diego Extension?

A: What you teach is twice learned. I’ve always believed that. It’s a chance to stay on top of your field and interact with students who are taking paralegal courses for the first time. It invigorates you, forces you to stay on top of your game.

Q: What lessons do you hope they learn?

A: The basic fundamentals of law, how to be resourceful, how to get to the bottom of things. As paralegal students, they need far less in-depth legal knowledge than a lawyer would need. Most of all, they need the basic principles, so they can speak the language. I teach the basic fundamentals and problem-solving skills.

Q: What are the psychological benefits for you of being an instructor?

A: Teaching slows down my life. Everyday life is so hurried and fast. Our lives are taken up with computers, iPads, smart phones – every conceivable means to avoid slow, deliberate human interaction and face-to-face conversation with real people. For me, teaching turns the clock back a hundred years. It’s just you and the students, talking about fundamental concepts in an ancient discipline – the law.

 

A Sense of Peace: “We have to learn how to be more peaceful”

Cynthia Poem Nguyen, who recently earned her UC San Diego Extension Professional Certificate in the Accelerated Paralegal program, has a noble goal: “I want to keep learning about how to create a more peaceful society.”

HER GOAL: "We can and should work together to make society better."

STUDENT PROFILE: Cynthia Nguyen, Professional Certificate in Accelerated Paralegal

She’s currently working with the ACLU’s San Diego branch, along with several UC San Diego students, on community-based research projects.

One such effort involves surveying residents of multi-ethnic neighborhoods about racial profiling along with rating respondents’ views on their dealings with police officers.

“The legal knowledge I gained from the paralegal program really helped me develop the confidence and the tools I’ve needed for this project,” said Nguyen, a 2006 UC Berkeley graduate in political science and rhetoric.

Likewise, her college studies in peace education has opened her eyes – and her mind.

“For me, the first step was learning how to communicate in a more non-judgmental and open-minded way,” she said. “I stopped seeing my classmates and others as being antagonistic towards me. I developed more of a sense of peace, a calmness of mind.”

Now attending San Diego City College, Nguyen hopes to earn her law degree and become a civil rights and international human rights lawyer.

“There are so many intelligent people in this world; we can and should work together to make society better,” she said. “We have to learn how to be more peaceful.”

Peace is one thing. Piece is another, as in piece of cake. Because cake decorating happens to be Nguyen’s other passion.

“Every time I pass by a cake or cookies, I want to decorate them,” she said with a laugh. “I’d like to make a living by decorating cakes, but that might be too much of a challenge.”

Learning the Truth About Cancer: An Ethicist’s Own Story

Truth-telling about cancer can be a precarious path, not only for patients who are told the awful truth, but also for physicians who must convey that truth.

Rebecca Dresser: "Truth-telling is complicated."

Rebecca Dresser: “Truth-telling is complicated.”

For Rebecca Dresser, a trained medical and legal ethicist, learning she had oral cancer some six years ago proved to be a life-changing experience, in ways she hadn’t anticipated.

“Truth-telling is complicated,” she said, reflecting on what she termed her own personal “diagnostic odyssey” that turned out to be both professional and personal.

“As a 12-year-old, I learned how frightening it can be when people don’t tell you the truth,” she said. “Then as a patient, I learned how frightening it is when they do tell you the truth.”

Dresser was the final speaker in a series of lectures themed on cancer, based on “The Emperor of All Maladies,” the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by cancer researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee.

A longtime professor at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Dresser told her personal story to a group gathered at Balboa Park’s Reuben H. Fleet Space Center on Wednesday, June 4.

Her presentation was based on her 2012 book, “Malignant: Medical Ethicists Confront Cancer.”

Dresser, who describes herself as a member of what she calls the “remission society,” recalled how her father had died from cancer at age 39, when she was 12.

“Nobody ever told me or my younger brothers that he was dying or what was wrong, even though we sensed it was something bad,” she said. “Whenever we got up the courage to ask our mother, we would get these vague responses that were meant to assure us – but did not.”

She continued: “So this is the way I learned that people should tell the truth about serious illness. This is the way I learned that shielding children from bad news does them no good.”

That childhood experience ultimately inspired Dresser, who holds a law degree from Harvard, to pursue her career as a medical and legal ethicist.

“Knowing about a life-threatening diagnosis may be better than not knowing, but it’s terrible knowledge,” she said. “With it comes impossible treatment choices” – both for patients and physicians who treat them.

As for her own cancer experience, she underwent extensive chemotherapy, suffered severe weight loss and was forced to use a feeding tube for several months, which resulted in slightly slurred speech.

Amid countless stories of doctors who “display shocking insensitivity” and use “terse statements and evasive language,” Dresser said, the best response she’s heard from a physician obligated to convey bad news to a patient was simple and compassionate:

“Yes, it could be cancer. But if it is, we’ll be right there with you.”

Dresser’s appearance was co-presented by UC San Diego Extension and the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology.

After her talk, Dresser was interviewed by Ethics Center director Michael Kalichman, who revealed that he is a cancer patient himself. Last year, he underwent extensive chemotherapy and surgery.

“Welcome to the remission society!” said Dresser, as the two exchanged a high-five.

– John B.B. Freeman

How to Network with Purpose

By Jenna Durney, UC San Diego Graduate Student

In a job market where 70% of all jobs are found through networking, one phone call, one introduction, or one meeting can change everything, according to Camille Primm, award-winning author and Career Coach at UC San Diego Extenion’s Life/Work Center.

As a networking maven, Primm challenges professionals to change their negative perceptions about networking and consider it, instead, as a positive experience towards creating and nurturing relationships. “Networking requires uncovering a common interest, building a sense of community, and engaging in authentic conversations,” said Primm. She emphasizes that it is better to develop strong relationships with 20 people than superficial ones with 200.

Primm breaks down the networking process into a few simple steps: Relationship-building begins with conversation. To engage in and hold a conversation, she encourages people to open up with “small talk” topics (such as weather, sports, nice hand bag, etc.) and study up on current events. While small talk can help kindle a fire, she emphasizes that networking is more about listening to what people say than saying the right things. In conjunction with conversing, she recommends using active listening skills such as:

  • Making eye contact
  • Nodding
  • Smiling
  • Affirming
  • Asking questions

On March 26th, Primm facilitated an interactive networking workshop for attendees of UC San Diego Extension’s Career Week. She reviewed essential networking skills, and then put those new skills into practice by simulating a networking environment. She reminded attendees to use these keys to effective networking:

  1. Define who you are and why you are here (i.e. your brand)
  2. Give before you get
  3. Connect with people with whom you share interests and values
  4. Don’t ever keep score
Camille Primm, UCSD Extension Career Week 2014

Camille Primm explains, “networking requires uncovering a common interest, building a sense of community, and engaging in authentic conversations.”

Primm challenged attendees to take action by following up with the contacts they made that night. Other methods of taking action to broaden one’s network include volunteering, attending professional association meetings, or taking a class.

By applying these same skills to your own networking practice, you can move your connections from one-time meetings to long-lasting relationships. Primm recommends starting small and working to deepen relationships by taking small steps such as emailing someone an article that they might find interesting or a making a short 5-minute phone call.

Camille Primm is a UC San Diego Extension career coach, who also facilitates quarterly career clinics. Designed for professionals based on career stage, the clinics are free, quarterly offerings open to the public.

Sign up for a free Career Clinic, April 21-24, 2014:

Career Kick-Start

As paralegal to a criminal defense attorney, Sunny Elmore finds each day brings its own set of welcome challenges.

SUNNY ELMORE

Student Profile
Sunny Elmore,
Certificate in Paralegal

“It’s my job to try to remain flexible and more importantly, to be extremely positive in whatever I need to do,” she said. “I bounce between discovery requests, calendaring, handling expenses, assisting in witness statements, drafting motions…everything.”

After graduating from UC San Diego in 2005 with a history degree, she sought to enter the legal field, though not as a lawyer. Five years later, she had earned a UC San Diego Extension Certificate in Paralegal, which “kick-started” her criminal law career.

“Besides what I learned, the biggest take-away was networking with the instructors and fellow students,” she said. “Through all the people I met there, that’s what got me to where I am now.”

Her first role was an internship in the offices of San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, which began a series of upward career moves. After a year, Elmore was hired as a case assistant by the prestigious firm of Higgs Fletcher & Mack.

Seven months later, she became a paralegal for Gary S. Barthel, largely dealing with complex issues in military law. Two years after that, in 2013, Barthel launched his own Vista-based firm, with Elmore as his first and only employee.

“I’m right where I want to be,” she said. “At this stage of my career, I feel very confident and proficient about my paralegal skills.”

After the rigors of running a busy law firm, Elmore enjoys relaxing with her 7-year-old daughter, Harmony. “I’ll ask her how her day went and then she’ll ask me,” she said. “As much as possible, I want her to know what I do and the importance of knowing the law.”

Explore Your Future: Career Development Week, March 25-27

Are you interested in the latest industry trends?

Do you want insights into the hottest career opportunities?

Do you need a better understanding of the skills and knowledge needed for professional success?

3-3-14 CAREER DEVELOPMENT WEEK

Find out at UC San Diego Extension’s annual “Career Development Week,” March 25-27, 5 pm to 8 pm, where you will hear about the developments and opportunities in Life Sciences, Healthcare, Business, Law, and Technology.

Open to the public, industry experts and instructors will lead the week’s 20+ workshops.  The workshops will provide the most up-to-date information on today’s most promising professions.  Plus, there will be ample time to network, ask questions, and enroll in a course and/or certificate program.

“Career Development Week” will be held at UC San Diego Extension’s University City Center, 6256 Greenwich Drive, San Diego, CA 92122. Driving directions: Off Int. 805, take Governor Drive exit to Greenwich Drive.

The workshop schedule:

  • Tuesday, March 25: Life Sciences & Healthcare Night, 5 pm to 8 pm
  • Wednesday, March 26: Business & Law Night, 5 pm to 8 pm
  • Thursday, March 27: Technology Night, 5 pm to 8 pm

For a full listing of programs, course and events, visit extension.ucsd.edu/careerweek

From Diamonds to Chips

Not long ago, Nicole Loutsenhizer was a certified diamond grader, peering into the world’s most valuable gems.

NICOLE LOUTSENHIZER1

Student Profile:
Nicole Loutsenhizer,
Certificate in Paralegal

Then, the bottom dropped out of the precious stones market and she was out of a job, one she was uniquely qualified for.

“It was a really good job until nobody bought diamonds,” she recalled. “I was six years out of college with zero experience doing anything else, so I was sure nobody would hire me.”

Now, three years later, she’s a computer analyst for Qualcomm and grateful for her UC San Diego Extension certificate that helped her move from diamonds to chips.

During the economic slump, she noticed that paralegals had weathered the storm. She promptly enrolled in the “highest-rated program I could find” – UC San Diego Extension’s Professional Paralegal Certificate program.

Said Loutsenhizer, a San Diego native who grew up in San Marcos: “I did my research, so I knew it was the right decision.”

Certificate in hand and determined to enter the paralegal field, she applied to more than 100 companies. Based on that project, she was hired by Qualcomm as a legal contract analyst. Soon, she was promoted to her current role as a computer analyst.

“It wasn’t a walk in the park,” she said, “but getting my paralegal certificate really prepared me for what I’m doing now.”

Clean Technology Explained

By Bob Gilleskie

According to Clean Edge, a leading clean technology marketing and research firm, clean technology, or clean tech, is any product, service or process that harnesses renewable materials and energy sources, reduces the use of non-renewable natural resources, and cuts or eliminates emissions and wastes.  Clean Edge also breaks down clean tech into the following major categories:  1) Clean Energy; 2) Clean Transportation; 3) Clean Water; and 4) Advanced Materials.  Each of these, in turn, includes more specific – and more familiar – areas of interest.  For example, under Advanced Materials, there are Green Building Materials, Recycling, and Waste Management.

Why clean technology?  The growing interest in clean tech stems largely from a renewed concern for environmental issues, chief of which is the essentially undisputed evidence of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.  Similarly, thanks to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and other books on what using these fuels has done to the air we breathe and water we drink, there is greater interest in renewable energy and other clean fuels.

The other reason for the interest in clean tech is that it just makes good economic sense.  Whether it be the reduced operating costs of green buildings, savings from recycling glass and aluminum, or reduced costs of reclaimed water, clean energy technologies almost invariably show a positive return on investment.  And this is reflected in both job creation and growth of the ‘green economy’.  The figure below shows this by comparing three market indices for 2013: one showing the growth of electrical grid infrastructure (QGRD), another showing the growth of the S&P 500, and another showing the growth of green energy companies (CELS).  Clearly, green energy has shown more significant growth than conventional energy infrastructure or the market as a whole.

Market growth of green energy companies (CELS), energy grid infrastructure (QGRD), and the S&P 500

Market growth of green energy companies (CELS), energy grid infrastructure (QGRD), and the S&P 500

In response to this growing interest in, and promising economic future of, clean tech, UC San Diego Extension is offering a course on Clean Energy – Clean Technology, beginning this winter quarter.  The course consists of three parts covering an overview of the major clean tech topics: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean technology. Each segment of the course is facilitated by a different instructor, each having considerable experience in the specific subject area.

ScholarshipAnyone who is interested in deepening their knowledge on sustainability or exploring a possible career path in the green economy is welcome to enroll. Students interested in pursuing the full Sustainable Business Practices Certificate may apply for a $3,000 scholarship provided by SDG&E, which covers the majority of the program costs. Applications for the winter scholarship are due Tuesday, December 10th.

California Board of Accountancy Explains New CPA Requirements

Aspiring accountants in California can expect increased academic rigor and credit requirements. New CPA licensing requirements instituted by the California Board of Accountancy go into effect in 2014, but students must prepare now or face potential delays in submitting their application for licensure in order to meet new coursework requirements.

As outlined in a previous blog article, the increase includes additional educational units in accounting, business-related subjects and ethics study. This increase, however, brings California up to the standard required in the majority of other states and makes it easier for California-licensed accountants to work in other states.

This fall, CPA candidates can get all their questions answered in person by the California Board of Accountancy. On September 19, 2013, from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m., a representative from the California Board of Accountancy will speak at a workshop hosted by UC San Diego Extension to explain these new CPA requirements, clarify details of the applicant review process and present the many resources available on the CA Board of Accountancy website. Attendees will also get updates on Senate Bill 823, which may extend the deadline to apply for licensure.

For workshop details or to register to attend, visit the course webpage. If you can’t make it to the session, or have additional questions, contact the Accounting Program Manager at jmshort@ucsd.edu or (858) 534-8189.

Continuing Education & Career ShowcaseThis workshop is a part of UC San Diego Extension’s Continuing Education & Career Showcase – a free event, open to the public. Take part in additional workshops that evening by visiting extension.ucsd.edu/showcase to register.

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