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Prior work and life experiences are assets for Marion Maillard, Scott Stevens, and Lisa Giandomenico

March 10, 2017 - Tamara Williams

For Marion Maillard, Scott Stevens and Lisa Giandomenico, the path to law school came after another career. These non-traditional students bring perspectives and insights from their careers to the classroom.

Giandomenico says non-traditional students differ from law students who enrolled immediately after college because they have seen how useful knowledge of the law is throughout life. “I think we realize how our children will benefit from what we are learning that we can teach them,” she explains. “I also think we have a better understanding of all the different things that a law degree can enable you to do.”

This is the final article in the series “Non-traditional students bring real-world experiences to the classroom.”

Marion Maillard has used her real work experience to overcome the challenges of going back to school.

Marion Maillard
Marion Maillard (Class of 2018) uses her experience as a realtor to her benefit.

What was your previous occupation?

After moving to Albuquerque from France in 2010, I worked as a Realtor for about four years.

Why did you decide to pursue law school? What do you plan to do with your law degree?

What I enjoyed the most about working as a Realtor was representing clients and negotiating contracts.  Someone suggested I apply to Law School for those reasons, and I did... And here I am!

Do you feel your background adds value to your experience as a law student?

Having real work experience gave me a little perspective that I value every day. When I find an assignment stressful, I take a step back, realizing that the only outcome is a grade. Of course, grades are important, but no third party is at risk if I mess up an assignment. Having prior work experience helps me deal with school stress better than if I had enrolled right out of school.

Any advice for other non-traditional students?

My advice for fellow non-traditional students would be to value your prior experience, and know that you can do it.  The school admissions team picked you because it is confident that you have what it takes to succeed at the UNM School of Law.  We all bring something to the table here.

Scott Stevens is able to balance school and life because of his wife’s “awesomeness.”

Scott Stevens
Scott Stevens (Class of 2018) finds his prior experience invaluable in job interviews.

What was your previous occupation?

I was a landman in the oil and gas industry.

Why did you decide to pursue law school? What do you plan to do with your law degree?

I liked what I was doing.  I just wanted to be able to do more of it with better job security.  Now that I'm at the law school, I've become a lot more concerned about the environment.  I'm glad there are so many environmental and natural resources classes offered so I can make sure I want to do what I've set out to do.

Was going back to school difficult?

The choice? No, it made sense. Doing it? Yes, absolutely. I have 3 young kids and I wouldn't be able to do it if it weren't for my wife's awesomeness.

Do you feel your background adds value to your experience as a law student?

Absolutely, I can see the practicality of what we talk about in class more because of my background. My experience and real-world knowledge have helped me get interviews which I otherwise may have not gotten solely based on my GPA.

Any advice for other non-traditional students?
Most of the students here are non-traditional, so you don’t have to worry about sticking out. The best thing about this law school is that you can get your post-school job lined up before you graduate. So quit your job and get some loans so you can concentrate on school as much as possible. Go back to being just a student.

Lisa Giandomenico sees the value in both prior professional and personal experiences.

Lisa Giandomenico
Lisa Giandomenico (Class of 2017) advises any prospective law student to "go for it."

What was your previous occupation?

I worked as a Realtor since 1999, and as a paralegal for the two years prior to entering law school.

Why did you decide to pursue law school?

I ultimately decided to apply for law school because I needed something more intellectually challenging to do beyond real estate and I confirmed my interest by working as a paralegal first. 

More importantly, I want to help people.  In real estate, I always loved helping first-time homebuyers. Teaching them how to buy their first house was really fulfilling for me.

Was going back to school difficult? 

Going back to school has been challenging, especially because I am a parent now.  I put a lot of thought into how to create balance between school, work and family.  In the beginning, I just kept telling myself, “you got this!” and now I am incredibly happy that I decided to undertake law school. 

Any advice for other non-traditional students?

Go for it and to take it one baby step at a time. I remember thinking, “I’m just going to take the LSAT for now and see what happens.” I did not look too far into the future and I think that made me sort of brave!