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Upcoming programs

February 6-July 18, 2024
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-9 p.m.
Registration Fee: $4,995
Where: Live Online

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“I like that I have been able to still work while going to class and I haven’t felt overwhelmed. That was very important to me.”

- James Rollins, paralegal student

Trying to determine if the VCU Paralegal Certificate is right for you? Our informational video may help.

« Back to Certificate in Paralegal Studies homepage

Our programs are led by renowned and experienced instructors in the legal field. All instructors for the program courses are practicing members of the Virginia Bar Association. They also bring real-life experience to the online classroom to help you apply the new knowledge and skills you gain throughout the program. 

Below are biographies and headshots for several of our prestigious instructors. Contact us for more information or if you have any questions we can answer.

Marissa Boyce, J.D.

Headshot of paralegal instructor Marissa BoyceMarissa Boyce is a senior staff attorney with the Virginia Court of Appeals. In her current position, she leads a small team of attorneys working on petitions for writs of actual innocence based on non-biological evidence. Before her current position, Marissa worked as a public defender in the City of Richmond and in Chesterfield County, where she specialized in representing court-involved youth in criminal cases.

Marissa graduated cum laude from the University of Mary Washington, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in French. She went on to attend law school at the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. While in law school, Marissa served as an editor on the interdisciplinary Journal of Law, Philosophy & Culture, and graduated with pro-bono highest honors after performing over 300 hours of pro-bono work. Marissa is currently licensed to practice law in Virginia, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. She spends her time outside of work gardening and working on her historic home. 

Sherry Fox, J.D.

Headshot of Sherry Fox

For fifteen years, Sherry A. Fox focused her practice on civil litigation, primarily representing constitutional officers in state and federal courts. Her representation of constitutional officers — including sheriffs, deputies, and jail officers — included defense of claims arising under the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes and state law claims such as breach of contract and defamation. Over the course of those fifteen years, Sherry also practiced adoption law, at times litigating contested adoptions. Five years ago, Sherry broadened her family formation practice to include work in assisted reproductive technology (“ART”) law, representing individuals and couples expanding their families via surrogacy and genetic material donation. She now focuses her practice exclusively on ART law and adoption in her own firm, Fox Family Formation.

Sherry received her bachelor’s degree in government and international politics, cum laude, from George Mason University, and her law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law. She is a Board member of the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association and an active member of the Art Law Subcommittee of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association. Sherry has been recognized annually by both Super Lawyers and Virginia Business Legal Elite since 2012. Hailing from Queens, New York, Sherry has a passion for food, her children, and staying active. 

Rachel Greenleaf, J.D.

Headshot for paralegal instructor Rachel GreenleafRachel Greenleaf serves as a career law clerk for the Honorable Kevin R. Huennekens, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division. 

Ms. Greenleaf graduated magna cum laude from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with a degree in Philosophy.  She then attended The George Washington University Law School, where she graduated with honors and served as Editor-in-Chief of The Federal Circuit Bar Journal, the official publication of the Federal Circuit Bar Association.

After graduating law school, Ms. Greenleaf spent a year as a term law clerk for the Honorable Kevin R. Huennekens.  Upon completing her clerkship, Ms. Greenleaf practiced law at Hirschler, primarily focusing on restructuring and insolvency, before returning to the Court in 2018.

M. Christine Maggard, J.D.

Headshot of M. Christine MaggardM. Christine Maggard is a senior associate attorney in the Bankruptcy Division of Brock & Scott, PLLC.

In 1986, she received her undergraduate degree in English, and Rhetoric and Communications studies from the University of Virginia, and in 1991, she received her law degree from George Mason University School of Law. Christine is licensed to practice in all courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is admitted to practice before the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Her legal career started at the Office of the Virginia Attorney General in the Division of Debt Collection. With the exception of a stint working in the Office’s Correctional Litigation Section, Christine’s practice has focused on debtor/creditor relationships. She is a former officer and president of the Virginia Creditors Bar Association. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Tidewater Bankruptcy Bar Association and the Virginia Network of the International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation.

In addition to speaking about bankruptcy matters, Christine has lectured on landlord & tenant law, creditor’s rights, and practice before the Virginia General District Courts.

Ashley Passero, Esq.

Headshot of instructor Ashley PasseroAshley Passero is a senior associate attorney at LawrenceQueen, a law firm specializing in the practice of employment law. For the past nine years, Ashley has practiced almost exclusively in the area of employment law, representing both employees and employers in state and federal court and before administrative agencies on a variety of employment matters, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, and wage and hour.

Ashley also advises and litigates on behalf of clients with respect to both contractual and tort-based obligations in the workplace, from non-competition and non-solicitation provisions, to fiduciary duties, tortious interference, and defamation.

Before joining LawrenceQueen, Ashley was an employment attorney at a management-side employment law firm in Richmond, Virginia, where she focused on counseling employers and litigation. Previously, Ashley was an employment attorney at a law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ashley received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond and her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, graduating both with magna cum laude honors. Ashley has been consistently recognized as a Virginia Rising Star in Employment Law by Super Lawyers since 2018.

While not practicing law, Ashley enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants in the area, and spending time with her husband Mark and their three sons.

Joanna Suyes, J.D.

Joanna Suyes

An Owner at Suyes Law, PLLC, Joanna L. Suyes focuses her practice on Social Security Disability and Personal Injury claims. Joanna grew up in Chesterfield County, graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1989 and received her M. Div. from the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. After working as a paralegal for 15 years, she enrolled in law school and received her J.D. cum laude from the University of Richmond Law School.

Joanna is a member of the Bars of Virginia and the District of Columbia, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives and the Metro Richmond Women’s Bar Association. She is a frequent speaker on Social Security and poverty law issues and is a passionate advocate for access to justice. She is a past chair of the Virginia State Bar’s Access to Legal Services Committee, a member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the Virginia Poverty Law Center, and a pro bono volunteer for CancerLINC.

In her spare time, Joanna enjoys spending time with her family and dog, supporting the Washington football team, cooking, and traveling.

Christine Tommasino

Headshot of Christina TommasinoChristine Tommasino leads Prime Legal’s Staff Recruitment process. Christine has quickly grown her network of legal support staff over the last two years and is committed to finding talented, qualified staff for law firms in the Southeast. Christine has lived in Richmond since 2011 and is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. Her extensive background in retail management has provided Christine the ability to identify and connect talent based on candidate’s career goals and each firm’s needs.

“Your career is such a big part of your life and knowing a recruiter in your field provides a career connection for now and years to come! Being able to connect with professional Legal Staff every day means that I can learn about and help achieve long-term goals. I’m thankful for any opportunity to connect candidates and clients, and for the impact it has on each person’s success!” – Christine Tommasino

Breanna West, J.D.

Headshot of paralegal instructor Breanna WestBreanna “Bre” West is counsel at BrownGreer, a law firm that provides settlement administration and litigation management services for class action lawsuits. She has overseen fraud investigations for the NFL Concussion Settlement Program. Bre currently works on the administration of the Fire Victim Trust, a program that resolves claims arising from the 2015 Butte Fire, 2017 North Bay Fires, and 2018 Camp Fire. Prior to joining BrownGreer, Bre worked for several years as a civil litigation attorney where she handled wrongful death claims, auto accidents, trucking accidents, and excessive force claims.
Bre is an alumna of Howard University where she majored in political science with a minor in history. After graduating from Howard, she worked for two years as a paralegal at a personal injury law firm in Richmond. Bre attended Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA.
Bre is admitted to practice in Virginia and is active in various bar and community organizations. She is on the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference Board of Governors and Peter Paul Development Center’s Board of Associates. When she’s not working, Bre enjoys running, traveling with her friends and family, trying new restaurants, and tackling DIY projects around her house.

Dominique L. Young, J.D.

Dominique YoungAn associate attorney at LawrenceQueen, Dominique L. Young centers her practice as a Richmond employment lawyer giving personalized attention to the various concerns that exist in business today. She represents employers and employees in the various disputes or other matters that may arise in the employment law sector.

Dominique is an alumna of Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied business marketing with a pre-law concentration. After her time at VCU, Dominique attended Florida A&M University College of Law, where she participated in various legal clinics serving indigent persons.

Since returning to Virginia, Ms. Young has continued her passion for helping others by volunteering pro-bono hours of service to the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. She is admitted to practice in Florida and Virginia. Outside of the law, Dominique enjoys supporting VCU basketball, attending all of the festivals that come through Richmond, and traveling with her friends and family.

Want to find out more? Get in touch.