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Alumni Spotlight: Patrice Tisdale

Patrice Tisdale

On her way toward becoming a lawyer, Patrice Tisdale learned that an unexpected side trip to Essex County College would help propel her toward success.

“I started law school in Canada,” Patrice recently related. “When I moved to New Jersey to be with my husband, my plans were to continue law school here.” However, she was not in a position to resume law school fulltime, so she looked for some alternatives.

“I called schools with paralegal programs to learn more about the American legal system and Essex County College was the only one that invited me to visit and examine the textbooks and class syllabi. After speaking with Professor Linda Carter (program coordinator), I was hooked!” So Patrice enrolled at Essex and worked on practical assignments “with real substance, not paper pushing work.”

By the time Patrice left Essex County College in 2009, she was ready for law school. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati and for the past four and a half years has been an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board, working out of its Philadelphia office.

Patrice said the practical knowledge she learned at Essex has helped her succeed in her legal career. “This is so much of what Professor Carter taught me.”

“Patrice Tisdale is very smart, open to expanding her knowledge base and interested in a new life journey,” said Professor Carter. “Patrice possessed determination, drive, passion for the law, and common and street sense. But, more so, the intent to use the law to positively impact the surrounding community.”

While living in Ohio and attending law school, Patrice taught in a program that exposed underserved middle and high school students to the practice of law. She frequently utilized the methods and pedagogical instructional techniques she learned at Essex. “It was great to see their passion as they talked about their projects and how to proceed,” Patrice said.

When ECC was working on securing American Bar Association approval for the Paralegal Studies program, Patrice was one of the students assisting in that successful effort. “I learned a lot about the details that the ABA looked for in the program.” Because of this invaluable insight, Patrice currently advises anyone that asks her advice about pursuing paralegal studies to ensure they pursue it via an ABA accredited program.

Patrice was born in Jamaica and lived for years in Toronto, Canada before coming to New Jersey and Essex. “I certainly got a lot more than I initially expected when I started checking out colleges for Paralegal Studies.”

Here is how this proud alumna sums it up. “Law school taught me the law, the theory behind the law, and how to analyze factual situations to fit the law. But my training in how to prepare myself for interacting with clients, being ready to respond through thorough research and investigation started with Essex County College’s PLS program.”