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  • PCLaw | Time Matters

Going Forward Together: How Online Courses Sparked New Career Paths, Opportunities

For Sharon Thiessen, P|T University helped her to thrive in a new career after losing her job due, in part, to COVID-19.

For legal administrator Sarah Koschman, P|T University empowered her to go into business for herself.

Hosted by PCLaw | Time Matters™ as a benefit for their AMP Membership Customers, P|T University offers instructor-led courses to teach the foundational and advanced use of PCLaw® and Time Matters® legal practice management software.

But for some students of P|T University, the courses are more than tutorials, they are also a way to chart a new course in life.

Adjusting To A New Industry

Sharon Thiessen never gives up.

Thiessen, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) from Calgary, Alberta in Canada, used to work in the oil and gas industry.

But when her industry hit a downturn on top of the emergence of COVID-19, Thiessen found herself unemployed.

Fortunately, while Thiessen lost her job, she did not lose her grit, nor the life lessons she learned growing up. She shifted gears into a new industry, taking a part-time contract job as an accountant for a law firm. The onboarding was brief, to say the least.

“I actually had three days of training with the prior bookkeeper,” Thiessen says.

A new job in a completely new industry meant Thiessen had to quickly learn new protocols, terminology, and software, including PCLaw®.

To better utilize the software, Thiessen discovered that PCLaw | Time Matters offered learning courses designed to help legal professionals use their practice management software for greater efficiency. Thiessen also discovered a new PCLaw Foundations Certificate Program. The program includes a series of courses designed to establish a fundamental knowledge of the software’s applications and workflow solutions.

The live, instructor-led classes are normally offered at a cost. However, Thiessen realized that one of the benefits included with her AMP Membership with PCLaw | Time Matters were promo codes that would allow her to take these online courses free of charge.

A career CPA with a pre-existing knowledge of accounting, Thiessen was unsure what she might learn in the PCLaw Foundations Certificate Program courses that she did not already know.

“By that time, I had actually taught myself a lot of things,” Thiessen says. “But in the training, there was always some small little nugget in there that I wouldn’t have come to learn on my own.”

Thiessen took all six courses in the program, covering topics that included data entry, managing clients and matters, accounts payable, and more. She completed her PCLaw Foundations Certificate in April 2021.

Thiessen adds that the courses she took as part of the program equipped her with new skills and a greater, more detailed understanding of the PCLaw software.

“With the training courses, I learned that there’s more to it that I would like to learn,” Thiessen says.

Starting A New Business

Sarah Koschman (left) and law firm partner Shonagh Pickens of S.K. Pickens Lawfirm.

Before Sarah Koschman discovered P|T University, she knew that she needed a change.

Working in the court office of the Provincial Police in Ontario Canada (what someone in the United States would call a paralegal assistant for a district attorney) Koschman was looking to start a new career. Fortunately, she was friends with a prosecuting attorney who felt the same way about her job.

“Both of us kind of just became burnt out on criminal law at the same time. We just had enough, and we were right in the thick of things,” Koschman says. “So, we decided to branch off into family law and drafting wills.”

Starting a family law office from scratch would be a challenge for anyone. This was especially true for Koschman, who took on the career first job titles of office manager and legal administrator for her firm.

Initially, the learning curve was steep.

“The first year was challenging just with getting our name out there,” Koschman says, adding that part of those challenges included learning new job skills as well as software she had never used before, including PCLaw.

In the beginning, Koschman supplemented what she didn’t know about PCLaw by watching video tutorials on YouTube. Then she discovered P|T University.

“It took me a couple of months before I realized how much help is out there on PCLaw | Time Matters’ website,” Koschman says. “And then once I found it, I just dove in and did everything I could do to understand what’s going on.”

Like Thiessen, Koschman completed her PCLaw Foundations Certificate program in summer of 2021.

“I’m very thankful for them because in two years, I’ve come a long way.” Koschman says.

Going Forward

Thanks to the training she received at P|T University, Thiessen is equipped with new skills and a greater, more detailed understanding of PCLaw software. She says this enhanced knowledge helps her process and compile accounting data in a shorter period of time.

She wants to continue her training, become a certified PCLaw PowerUser, and then use her knowledge to help her colleagues.

Koschman is already helping her colleagues with the knowledge she learned from P|T University. Her partner at her firm is legally blind, so Koschman utilizes her freshly honed skills to redesign her partner’s dashboard, making PCLaw more accessible.

“I learned how to put her frequently used buttons on her favorites, so she can quickly go on and find them when she needs them,” Koshman says. “Some of the P|T University courses taught me how to design the program and set it up for people, so that makes it really easy as well when I train her.”

Koschman added, laughing: “So I’m kind of like the PCLaw master in the office right now, which is kind of scary.”

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