By Bailey Anne Dermanci, PMP
Baker found both a challenging curriculum and a strong community in the Paralegal Certificate Program.
“I wanted a career where I can help make a difference either directly in my work life or through volunteering with these skills.“
Lindsey Baker, Paralegal Certificate Program Student
Before the pandemic, Lindsey Baker’s professional experience included 15 years in the corporate world doing marketing and advertising and 10 years as a self-employed photographer. She decided to take advantage of the lull (in everything) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to start down a new career path and complete the Paralegal Certificate Program.
“After going through a divorce in 2017, I felt frustrated as a client with [my] lack of knowledge about processes,” Baker shared, so she used that frustration to fuel her decision to pursue a legal career. “Furthermore, I wanted a career where I can help make a difference either directly in my work life or through volunteering with these skills.”
Read on to learn about Baker’s experience in our program.
Why did you choose the program at UT Austin’s Center for Professional Education?
I chose UT’s program after exploring other options because I felt like the quality of professors available would be high [and I liked] the length of the program. I also preferred to have The University of Texas at Austin on my resume. I believe it holds weight against other programs, especially locally. I found that this program also would be a good fit for someone who already has a Bachelor’s degree in terms of the level of work expected.
How was the program?
I found the class challenging but not so overwhelming that I felt defeated and unable to meet the expectations of what was required. With no legal background professionally, I was nervous about not understanding or keeping up. While the first module was the most challenging, it provided extremely valuable content and skills that can be immediately used. I loved my classmates – despite having to do all of our courses virtually, we bonded in our own separate chat group. It was diverse and extremely helpful to have that as a group. I feel incredibly prepared for my internship and have a better idea of what kind of legal career I’d like to pursue.
Were you surprised by anything you covered?
I was surprised how much I loved our Contract Law module. The professor was part of the enjoyment of the unit, but because I’ve spent many years in business, I believe it all made sense the most immediately. I will say the different styles of the professors from one module to the next was always a little nerve-wracking in anticipation of work-load but that’s no different than real life and required adaptability and sometimes studying differently for each module.
Did you find it challenging?
The program was challenging. It wasn’t difficult in terms of what we were learning all the time but required dedication to attending class, studying the material and being able to integrate multiple concepts in order to be successful. Having not been in school since 1997, it took me some time to get a system for my own success. I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t been in school or doesn’t have a legal background not to be intimidated as no one wants you to fail, and I felt supported. While some modules were more enjoyable and easier to get through than others, I never felt like any of the coursework wasn’t doable.
Did you enjoy the instructors?
Overall, I enjoyed the instructors and found them very knowledgeable. Each of them had many years of experience in their field, and they were genuinely interested in teaching and engaging with the class, particularly because we were remote. The fact that we couldn’t be in a live class situation presented some challenges [but I found] the program to be very high quality.
Do you have any specific plans or goals for your career now that you’ve earned this certificate?
I am starting my new career with an internship at the Lone Star Justice Alliance as a Paralegal Intern on the Mitigation Investigation team. The organization is something I was really passionate about. The mission of this organization is to improve the lives of juveniles and emerging adults in the justice system. We work to promote developmentally-appropriate responses to behavior and treat youth and emerging adults with equity and dignity to promote resilience, conserve costs and increase public safety.
“We are so proud of Lindsey and the other graduates of our program,” say Tiffany Haas, Esq., who developed both the self-paced online and instructor-led Paralegal Certificate Programs offered by UT Austin’s Center for Professional Education. “Lindsey worked hard to complete the program and secure an internship, and we look forward to following her success in her new legal career!”
Bailey Anne Dermanci, PMP is a senior marketing coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. She is certified by the Project Management Institute as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®.
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