November 17, 2021
Samantha Mahan

Samantha Mahan ‘21 double majored in English and Legal Studies at UMass. She is now working at a law firm in Boston as a paralegal assistant, and plans to attend law school in the future. 

What was your primary major at UMass? Did you have any additional majors, minors, or specializations?

I majored in English and Legal Studies. I added Legal Studies as my secondary major my sophomore year. Through the English Department I received certificates in Study and Practice of Writing (SPoW) and Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC).

When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in law? 

It was one of those things that I always had it in the back of my mind. I took Intro to Legal Studies as a Gen Ed course, and I ended up really liking it. That’s when I decided to add the second major, and I found that the two departments complement each other really well.

What area of law are you interested in? Why?

I’m not 100% certain about this yet. I’m currently working with a private wealth services group, the work we do consists of wealth planning, and it’s really interesting work so far. 

My capstone project was about analyzing legal repercussions of violence that ensue due to social media, and I find that intersection between technology and social media and the legal field really interesting. I think it’s something that will we will see develop in our lifetimes in a way that it is not developed right now.” 

Do you plan to go to law school?

I think I would like to go to law school; the position I’m currently in was pitched to me as a stepping stone to law school. The person who had the same title before me is in law school now, and I can see myself following a similar trajectory.

Did you have a favorite English class at UMass?

I took a class on Literacy and Race with Haivan Hoang that I loved, English 368. It was about how literacy is often influenced and limited by discourse and social structure. 

I also really enjoyed my PWTC classes, I actually planned to pursue a career in technical writing after I graduated. Those classes were super helpful in preparing job applications and cover letters and other professional pieces. I took a 491 Career Advising class with Janis Greve and that was super helpful too, I got to do a lot of things I wouldn’t have made time to do otherwise.

Did you participate in any extracurriculars while you were at UMass? Jobs? Internships?

I worked at the Writing Center for two years. That was great, I loved it. I also worked as Research Assistant to a Legal Studies professor, and that was a good experience. 

I interned at the Attorney General’s Office in their Municipal Law Unit. That was in Worcester, and it was a really good opportunity, I’m glad I did it.

What is your day to day like as a Paralegal Assistant? 

A lot of the work I do at the moment is administrative based; I’m still learning the ins and outs of the groups. A good part of the morning I’ll scan and file new documents. Some other things that I wasn’t really expecting to get to do are working with the trust operations and administration side of things. Some attorneys will act as trustees, where we handle certain financial things, and I keep track of a lot of that. I’ve found all the financial side of things to be really interesting, which was surprising. 

I also draft a lot of documents, which is more relevant to English majors. Doing that has been the best way for me to understand the work that the group is doing. It’s a great hands-on teaching tool.

What have you learned about yourself or about the professional world since you’ve left UMass? 

I’m definitely still learning about myself and about the professional world. I was pretty intimidated to enter a big law firm, but it turns out that everyone is really nice and open to teaching. No one is going to shoot you down if you have a silly question to ask. 

What I learned about myself is that I’m okay with doing anything. I’m just really enjoying learning. 

If you could talk to your senior year self, what would you say?

Be flexible. I thought I would end up in a totally different job. Even if you have to totally switch gears for whatever reason, it will all turn out okay. Also, get used to Zoom, it’s not going away.

Interview by Sarah Mulcahy, Digital Communications Intern for the English department