Mishel Horta Hamline’s legal studies and paralegal certificate program helps busy professional achieve career goalsAfter relocating to the Twin Cities from Boston, where she had been taking paralegal classes, Mishel Horta ’12 didn’t know if she would be able to complete her degree and realize her goal of becoming a paralegal. Because Horta was working full-time at a law firm, she needed to attend a university that would both accommodate her busy schedule and provide a top-notch education. “I wanted to find an undergraduate legal studies program that would accept and transfer all of my credits, had a good variety of evening classes, and would ultimately provide me with both a bachelor’s degree and a paralegal certificate,” she said.“Hamline University’s legal studies and paralegal certificate program had everything I was looking for.” A ‘fabulous’ programStudents in Hamline’s legal studies program have the option to earn a paralegal certificate upon completing their bachelor’s degree. Paralegals assist lawyers by conducting research, drafting legal documents, working with clients, and managing cases. Because of Hamline’s flexibility, Horta was able to take one or two evening classes a semester until she completed her degree in May 2012. She said she couldn’t be happier with the quality of instruction and personalized attention she received at Hamline. “It’s a fabulous program,” she said. “It does a great job of providing undergraduate students with not only an introduction to the legal world, it also provides a variety of opportunities for the students to expand their knowledge of specific legal practices, such as immigration, family, and criminal [law], to name a few.” “That’s the difference between a lot of other universities and colleges versus Hamline,” she added. Community connectionsHorta said Hamline’s legal studies/paralegal program provides valuable opportunities for students to build a professional network before they even graduate. All classes are taught by professors or adjunct instructors who have practiced law or are current practicing attorneys. Guest speakers also lend their expertise to the classroom. And internships at local law firms expand students’ networks even further. One professor introduced Horta’s class to Southside Family Charter School, which left a lasting impact on Horta. Students from the Minneapolis elementary school gave a presentation to the class about their social justice work in the community. Horta was impressed by the students’ passion. “It’s definitely a great way of introducing paralegal students to the community and the community being introduced to Hamline University as well,” Horta said. “From that introduction, I was able to make a professional connection with Southside and since have enjoyed working alongside the school on a handful of projects and events.” Horta is the diversity and pro bono coordinator at Minneapolis-based law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. She encourages any student who might be interested in Hamline’s legal studies and/or paralegal certificate program to contact Legal Studies Chair Jeanne Kosieradzki at 651-523-2745 or firstname.lastname@example.org. “Jeanne is a great resource and willing mentor to any and all students interested in exploring the legal world,” Horta said.