Blinn alumna earns degree, lands dream career as a legal assistant at her alma mater

Ravin McFarlane provides legal assistance to Blinn’s Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and General Counsel

August 16, 2018

Ravin McFarlaneIn 2013, Ravin McFarlane was waiting for class at the Blinn College-Bryan Campus when a small brochure pinned to the wall caught her eye.

The flyer provided information on the Blinn College District’s Legal Assistant Program, a two-year program that prepares students to serve as legal assistants, or paralegals, in a variety of careers. The Valley Mills native had a year of college under her belt with no definite career plan in place, so she decided to give the program a try.

“My mom was a legal assistant for an intellectual property law firm, and I knew she did some very interesting tasks while on the job,” McFarlane said. “Since I already had accumulated the majority of the pre-requisite courses needed to proceed with the program, it would not take me very long to finish. Everything just clicked when I started taking the courses.”

Within a year and a half, McFarlane earned her Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree and Legal Office Certificate. The newly trained legal assistant gained experience at several local criminal defense and family law firms, and in 2017 she returned to her alma mater to provide legal assistance to Blinn’s Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and General Counsel.

“When most people think of legal assistants in a law firm, they envision family, divorce, or criminal defense law that involves a lot of human interaction,” McFarlane said. “They do not realize that it is not the only route. I was looking for something away from those typical careers.”

Legal assistants serve as attorneys’ top assistants in the delivery of legal services, performing duties that include attending trials, assisting in testimony preparation, locating and interviewing witnesses, conducting client interviews, reviewing contracts, and conducting investigations and research. Their role is expanding as companies look to hire employees with a broad understanding of legal matters. Job opportunities abound in private law firms, courts, government, insurance companies, administrative agencies, and corporations.

“The law is involved in virtually everything in society,” Program Coordinator Robert Stanberry said. “While law firms are the most popular destination for our program graduates, many other employers also can benefit from the legal background of our students.”

With traditional classroom and online tracks available, Blinn’s Legal Assistant Program equips students for a variety of law careers with an AAS degree or a Legal Office Certificate. Courses are taught by a faculty comprised entirely of lawyers and judges whose classes are structured to promote quality student-faculty interaction.

Students who successfully complete the AAS degree are eligible to sit for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) certification exam.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for certified legal assistants is expected to increase 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, creating more than 41,800 new jobs in the field. Legal assistants earn a median pay of $50,410 per year, or $24.24 per hour.

Working closely with Blinn’s legal counsel, McFarlane evaluates contracts, conducts legal research, and reviews the College District’s policies and regulations to ensure information is accurate and up-to-date.

“I really enjoy what I do,” McFarlane said. “The instructors and internship opportunities offered by Blinn’s Legal Assistant Program gave me the experience I needed to excel as a paralegal. I did not expect to find my dream career so quickly.”

For more information about the program, visit www.blinn.edu/paralegal.

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