For nearly three decades, even while graduating from college with a degree in finance, getting married, and raising her children, Cassandra Bain always dreamed of working in the legal field.
This fall, at age 50, she will receive her Paralegal Technology diploma from South Piedmont Community College.
“It’s a great feeling,” she said. “This is what I always wanted to do, and now I’m doing it.”
Bain earned her Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from Belmont University in 1997 and went on to work in the banking industry for several years before becoming a mother.
For 10 years, she stayed home to raise her family. When the time came to once again work outside the home, she approached the workforce with new perspective. She’d always wanted to work in law, and this time, she was going to make it happen.
She started working as a legal assistant while still living in Chicago, and when she relocated to North Carolina, started looking for paralegal programs. She considered a couple options, but it was South Piedmont’s that proved the right fit.
Specifically, Bain appreciated that South Piedmont offers a degree, diploma, and a certificate in Paralegal Technology. She chose the diploma, which is designed to be completed in about a year and a half. It’s shorter than a degree, which she already holds, but still prepares students to sit for the North Carolina Paralegal Certification exam.
Bain has attending part-time while working as a legal assistant at Cox Law Firm in Waxhaw. She completes the program this fall. She plans to study for the state exam for a few more months before pursuing state certification next summer.
At Cox Law, she is finding the kind of fulfillment she always wanted in her career.
“I get to do a little bit of everything for the firm. I am able to use my finance background by managing the firm’s billing, and I get to assist the attorneys with legal work,” she said.
South Piedmont has helped her gain a broad understanding of state and federal law. Every day, she’s able to put her education to use to assist the attorneys in drafting legal memoranda or completing legal research or interacting the clients. Her meticulousness, which was so valuable during her finance career, helps her keep the firm running smoothly.
Yet, unlike attorneys, she didn’t take on the cost of attending law school, and she didn’t have to pick just one area of the law in which to specialize.
“I know a little bit about multiple areas of the law. Being a paralegal satisfies my lifelong desire to work in the legal field, but at the end of the day, when I leave the office, I don’t have to take it home with me. That’s something a lot of attorneys don’t get to do; they’re working around the clock. I still have that work-life balance that’s so important,” she said.
“It took me a while to get into law, but I found a way to do it that is just right for me.”
Learn more about South Piedmont’s Paralegal Technology programs at spcc.edu/paralegal-technology.