• Jennifer Smith

    Paralegal certificate shows commitment to profession

    Jennifer Smith ‘12 received her post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate from Hamline University last spring. In this interview, she explains how the certificate helped her land her current job as a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coordinator at a government agency in Saint Paul. She also offers some valuable advice to those considering a paralegal certificate from Hamline.

    Tell us about your current job. What do you enjoy about it?

    My main responsibility is coordinating the application and administration of the FMLA as it relates to agency employees. I love my job because I learn something new every day, work with brilliant and talented people, and make a difference for my co-workers and the people I serve.

    How did your paralegal certificate from Hamline University help you prepare for or obtain this position?

    When I applied for my current position, one of the job qualifications was a paralegal certificate, so the fact that I was in school earning my certificate had a direct effect on my candidacy for the job.

    Would you recommend the paralegal certificate to others?

    I would definitely recommend the paralegal certificate to others because earning a certificate shows commitment to maintaining a professional legal standard. The certificate also enhances your professional standing regardless of whether you use it in a traditional or non-traditional legal field.

    As a post-baccalaureate student with previous work experience, the certificate served as the proof of training I needed in order to advance in my career. And, many of the people I met while in the program are now my professional colleagues, so being able to build professional relationships while in school has been very beneficial in my work today.

    I would recommend Hamline’s paralegal certificate in particular because of the quality of the legal faculty and the program’s emphasis on legal research. 

    What advice do you have for prospective students considering a paralegal certificate?

    • I would recommend reading issues of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations’ National Paralegal Reporter to determine whether or not they are interested in the types of legal and professional issues paralegals encounter in their daily work.
    • Prospective students will also want to attend an information session on Hamline’s Paralegal Certificate Program and contact Hamline University’s Legal Studies Department for any questions they might have about the program.
    • The Legal Studies Department can also connect students with paralegal alumni who can talk to them about the profession and their experience at Hamline.
    • Students interested in meeting and talking with current paralegal students and professionals can attend presentations hosted by the Hamline Paralegal Society or attend sectionals sponsored by the Minnesota Paralegal Association in an area of law they find interesting.
    • Regardless of whether they work in the legal profession or some other profession, if students want a career they love, it’s important that they pursue what interests and sustains them in both their work life and their life outside of work.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

    Work/life balance is a good thing. I fundamentally love to work because my purpose at work is to help people and solve problems, but outside of work I enjoy spending time with friends, hula hooping, and reading.

  • News


    At the 2017 Commencement ceremony on May 20, Hamline will honor two distinguished individuals who have devoted their careers to fighting for equality and the rights of others. The 2017 honorary degree recipients are former Ambassador James C. Hormel who will receive the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the undergraduate ceremony, and Sharon P. Robinson, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, who will receive the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the graduate ceremony.


    Hamline University and Hamline political science professor David Schultz, noted expert on elections, politics, and public policy, announced today the selection of Red Wing, Minnesota and Willmar, Minnesota as the first two Minnesota cities which will host a unique new effort called Citizen Assemblies.