Ally Taylor Bain comes from a family of lawyers. So when she graduated from the University of Arizona with a psychology degree a few years ago, her next stop was clearly law school. Or was it?
“My initial plan was to go to law school straight after undergrad,” Ally said. “But I wasn't sure if I was ready for three more years of school — I also wasn't sure if I was ready to put myself in that much debt.”
Working as a paralegal might be a good way to test the waters, she decided. To help her make the jump from psychology to law, she turned to the
Certificate in Paralegal Studies.
Getting a Quality UW Education
Initially, Ally didn’t realize she could take a high-quality certificate program in person at a school like the UW.
“I assumed there would be some kind of online certification thing through random educational websites,” she explained. “Once I discovered that there were paralegal programs at other universities and community colleges, I started comparing them. The UW is ranked as one of the highest, if not the highest, so I figured it would be a great place to go.”
In Her Own Words
Paralegal Studies certificate grad Ally Taylor Bain talks about how the program helped her chart a course in this growing field.
Play Learning Real-World Skills
Ally appreciated that her certificate courses did more than just cover legal theory and concepts. They also dug into what paralegals do in their day-to-day work.
“We'd actually have to write memos, write briefs, write complaints and answers — and then get criticism on it, get it back and have a chance to redraft it,” she noted. “So, we actually got a feel for how it's done because that's what paralegals are doing.”
She found that learning from working attorneys was a particularly valuable part of the certificate experience.
“I really liked having professors who were still practicing as attorneys, who could share their everyday stories,” she said. “You’re actually seeing an example of the subject you're studying when the professor is explaining it, about certain clients they've had in the past, certain cases they've had to deal with.”
Setting Her Up for Success
The program’s dedicated instructors made a big difference for Ally.
“I actually wanted to come to class when I was in the paralegal program because the instructors were just so engaged in it,” she said. “They really wanted to see us all succeed, and they helped us a lot along the way.”
I really liked having professors who were still practicing as attorneys, who could share their everyday stories.
Landing the Job
One of Ally’s instructors served as a professional reference when she applied for her current job as a paralegal at Seattle’s Strata Law Group. The firm focuses on family law, an area she studied during the program.
“When I found out that one of my classes was going to be devoted to family law, I was really excited,” she remembered. “I really enjoyed learning about that, and I think that helped me get my job here and has also helped my everyday working knowledge.”
Though she’s still weighing her long-term options professionally, completing the certificate program helped Ally find a career she’s happy with today in a
rapidly growing field.
“I think it’s the best approach if you're interested in working in the legal field,” she noted. “I'm still not entirely sure if I want to go to law school, but I absolutely love being a paralegal.”