I decided to start my journey with Lakeland Community College when I was working as a receptionist at the public defender’s office. I really enjoyed skimming police reports and hearing the attorneys and paralegals discuss clients’ stories leading up to why an individual was in our office, but my participation ended there. I knew that I wanted more involvement with clients and cases, so I decided to look into different colleges and paralegal programs.
Not only is Lakeland’s Paralegal Studies Program approved by the American Bar Association, its reputation in the area outshined all others. Lakeland was the perfect fit for me because of the ability to take day, night or online classes. I was a single mom who worked full time during the day and took night or online classes for a few years to earn my degree. I wasn’t sure if I’d love this field, or better yet if I’d be any good at it. Immediately after interacting with other students and staff, I knew I was meant to pursue this, and I have never looked back.
There are many types of law to choose from: criminal, civil, probate, family law and the list goes on. I really enjoyed having an array of options when it came to courses. I was particularly fond of criminal law. For each class, the teachers were all experienced and knowledgeable individuals who work in the field themselves. Being able to hear real life stories and examples of situations they experienced themselves kept my interest high all the way to the end of every class.
Currently, I still work for the public defender’s office, now as a full-time paralegal. I love that I have the opportunity and privilege to work with lawyers, judges and court staff on a daily basis. I love that each case is unique, each client is different and each circumstance is unlike the next. My son is almost 12 now, and I am married and have a baby girl due any day. I have the best of both worlds; a job that I love and time for my growing family. I am thankful every day that I chose this field of work, and I truly love what I do.
-Submitted by Laura C. Barnard, Program Director, Executive Vice President and Provost, Lakeland Community College