SMU PRO Paralegal Certificate instructors include licensed, practicing attorneys and paralegals selected both for their legal expertise and teaching ability. Their real-world experience brings special insight into the practical aspects of the profession.
Bruce Akerly is a partner with Malone Akerly Martin, PLLC, in Dallas, Texas, where he heads the firm’s Creditors’ Rights and Bankruptcy Practice Group. His primary areas of practice include commercial litigation, bankruptcy and financial restructuring, and creditor rights. He has represented clients in negotiations, settlements, mediations, trial and appeal of various forms of commercial, bankruptcy and business entity disputes, commercial litigation and other contested matters before administrative, state and federal courts.
He earned his B.A. degree from Southwest Texas State University and his J.D. degree, cum laude, from Texas Tech University School of Law. He was a law clerk to The Hon. Mary Lou Robinson, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, and is admitted to practice before the United State Supreme Court, all U.S. District courts in the states of Texas and Wisconsin, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, the Eastern District of Michigan, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th and 6th Circuits and the 10th Circuit B.A.P.
Lamont Aldridge has worked as a private investigator for eight years. He became a process server and contract paralegal in 2008. He has been working and communicating with court clerks around the state since 2008. Mr. Aldridge has always been proactive in his business. An expert in e-filing, he brings his knowledge to the SMU PRO classroom.
Michele Boerder, CP, BCP-TBLS
Board Certified Paralegal – Civil Trial Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Michele Boerder is a senior paralegal in the Dallas office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP, and has 37 years of experience. She has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of North Texas and received an A.A. from the El Centro College Paralegal Program in 1979. She is a Board Certified Paralegal – Civil Trial, Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a Certified Paralegal (“CP” through NALA), as well as a past President of the Paralegal Division, State Bar of Texas, and a past President of the Dallas Area Paralegal Association.
Ms. Boerder served on the State Bar of Texas Paralegal Committee, the TBLS Paralegal Civil Trial Commission, NFPA's Certification Standards Committee, and Paralegal Today magazine’s editorial review board. She received the Dallas Area Paralegal Association’s Paralegal of the Year Award in 1995, NFPA's Paralegal of the Year Award in 2005 and the Dallas Area Paralegal Association's "Michele M. Boerder Lifetime Achievement" award in 2006.
Jennifer Dillon was a paralegal for seven years in family law, personal injury, and other civil litigation. She graduated from TWU School of Law, was licensed and opened a practice in January 2014, in her hometown, Arlington. Her firm is a general civil practice with focus on personal injury, family law, probate and guardianship. She enjoys teaching “Torts and Personal Injury Law” with SMU PRO and introducing her students to the inner workings of the courtroom, along with the other practical aspects of her practice and previous paralegal experience.
Arlene Ferrell is a Senior Technology Training Specialist who partners with attorneys and legal staff to enhance their computer skills in legal-specific technology. In addition to over 25 years of legal experience, she also holds a B.A. in Psychology from Saint Mary’s University. She is a Microsoft Certified Master Trainer, an active member of the International Legal Technology Association and of the American Society of Training and Development, and a former Board Member with Chief Learning Officer magazine, serving the Business Intelligence team.
With her computer teaching expertise, Ms. Ferrell has the innate ability to connect with individuals and make the computer learning process a less stressful experience. She is cognizant of the importance of communicating her understanding to participants in her classes on a level that they understand and can implement.
Lindsey Hardy is an associate at Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C. Before joining the firm, she gained significant experience in the areas of civil tort defense and products liability defense as a trial attorney for another Dallas-based firm. Her practice areas also include employment and commercial litigation.
Ms. Hardy holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law.
Kristine Horn specializes in complex commercial litigation and has enjoyed an active trial and appellate practice since her licensure in 1989. While in private practice, she worked with both large and boutique firms and tried numerous cases in state and federal court. Her broad range of experience includes litigation concerning securities fraud, antitrust and unfair competition, contract disputes, consumer law, fiduciary obligations, employment law, healthcare, ERISA, intellectual property and white-collar crime.
Ms. Horn has served as appellate counsel in Texas, Colorado, New York and Florida state courts, and in the 5th and 2nd Circuit Courts of Appeal. Her arguments before the 5th Circuit include criminal cases in which she was appointed by the court to serve as counsel for indigent defendants.
Ms. Horn has written several legal articles and teaches an in-house constitutional law seminar for law schools across the country to assist students preparing for the multi-state bar exam. She currently works as an attorney for the 5th Court of Appeals.
Joan E. Marshall
Joan E. Marshall is Regional Fraud Counsel for the United States Department of Defense, Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). Before joining DCMA, she was a partner in the Dallas office of GeyerGorey, LLP, and represented clients in antitrust and white-collar criminal defense matters, corporate compliance, internal investigations, and qui tam and whistleblower litigation. Ms. Marshall investigated and prosecuted domestic and international white-collar crimes for more than fifteen years as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division.
Ms. Marshall is a recipient of the United States Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General’s Award and certificates of appreciation from the United States Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, and the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit. Marshall was a staff attorney at the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas. She is a graduate of the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University and has a B.B.A. in Economics from the University of North Texas.
Rusty O’Kane is an attorney in the litigation section of Wick Phillips Gould & Martin, LLP, focusing on a wide variety of civil disputes.
Prior to joining Wick Phillips, Rusty was a litigation associate in the Chicago office of Mayer Brown, LLP, where he handled all aspects of discovery, including drafting and responding to discovery requests, taking and defending depositions, implementing e-discovery and managing teams of attorneys in the fact-development process. Before that, he was a trial attorney with Anderson, Rasor & Partners in Chicago, where he gained extensive litigation experience in federal and state court, including taking and defending depositions, briefing and arguing dispositive motions, and defending hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and other healthcare professionals in malpractice actions.
After moving to Dallas in 2014, Rusty joined the Board of Directors for the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the public service arm of the State Bar of Texas.
George Shires graduated from SMU’s Dedman School of Law with honors in 2010, and has worked over seven years for a law firm practicing in real estate, energy, probate and estates law. He has been a member of the State Bar of Texas Pro Bono College for the last four years, volunteering on several legal matters for Legal Aid’s Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, and Disability Rights Texas, and was named as DVAP’s Volunteer of the Month for September 2015. He is also licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and before several federal courts.
Danny Thankachan is Partner of Legal Transformation for ChainAdvisors, LLC. He received his J.D. from the Cardozo School of Law, New York, and his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an experienced IT/network administrator, trial technology consultant and electronic discovery consultant. He has testified before state and federal courts with both written and oral testimony on e-discovery topics. Danny provides attorneys with consulting services on Electronic Discovery collection, chain-of-custody, and preservation. He also designs custom project management and litigation workflow systems on the Relativity platform. In court, he provides technical and logistical services including presentation of testimony and documentary evidence.
Sara Wahl is a business attorney with thirteen years of experience in bankruptcy and bankruptcy related litigation. She graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2000 and relocated from Minnesota to Texas to begin her legal career at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, LLP. In 2011, she moved her practice to Curran Tomko Tarski, LLP, and most recently she was at Elmore Law, PLLC. After combining private law practice with teaching at the SMU PRO Paralegal Studies Certificate Program for a year, Ms. Wahl resigned from her law firm in early 2014 to focus on teaching as well as on raising her two young children. She enjoys writing and teaching legal research and writing. Over the years, she has written many articles for various publications and is a contributing author to the Mortgage and Asset Backed Securities Litigation Handbook. In 2017, Ms. Wahl joined the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI) as the Crime Victims Attorney. HRI provides free legal and social services to immigrants who have been victims of human rights abuses.
Toya J. Walker
Toya J. Walker is a multi-talented legal and compliance professional. She currently serves as an Appellate Paralegal at Waters & Kraus. Ms. Walker has been a paralegal since 2002, and has worked in the public and private sector including firms, corporations, government, and educational institutions.
She graduated cum laude in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Southern University. In 2002, she graduated from Southeastern Paralegal Institute in Dallas, Texas, where she obtained her paralegal certificate. During her tenure, Ms. Walker has served on the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Texas Advisory Committee, NALA Continuing Education Council, Director for the State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division, Ambassador of the J.L. Turner Legal Association-Paralegal Section, and Leadership Southlake Alumni.
Ms. Walker has received several awards and has been featured in the online publication Lawcrossing.com, NALA's Fact and Findings publication, the Texas Paralegal Journal, The Paralegal Press, The Dallas Weekly magazine, and is an honoree of Who’s Who in Black Dallas.