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Paula DeNardis: 1L at Ventura College of Law

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<<"I have a lot of family talks to explain why I am not home at night or why I may have to spend Saturdays in the law library," DeNardis said.

At 33 years old, DeNardis has already finished one semester at her local law school; in the fall, she is going back to school to devote whatever free time she has left to becoming a lawyer. There are many moms like DeNardis who are going to school and raising families, but she is one of the few determined to make it all the way to graduation. After taking a long hiatus to raise her children, she could not bear to throw her childhood dream away.


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"I have wanted to be an attorney since I was in fourth grade! When other kids played 'house,' I played 'court,'" DeNardis recalled.

DeNardis is now married for the second time and is even assisting her husband in his custody battles. However, she said she has no regrets about the past and is even taking a new approach to the custody issue.

"I want to work in family law and specifically would love the chance to fight for fathers' rights," DeNardis said. "Most of my fellow students have been shocked to hear that, but I feel that there are a lot of courts that still favor the mother instead of objectively looking at all the facts."

DeNardis did not score very high on the LSAT, but a nearby law school accepted her, and she was excited to take on the new venture.

"Even though I've had delays to fulfilling a lifelong dream, it will be well worth it," she said.

DeNardis is the first in her family to get not only a high school diploma but also a college degree, and now she is taking on law school. This mother of three is hoping to graduate in a few years, and at the age of 36, she is going to take the California bar exam. She is also a student member of the Ventura County Bar Association and the Los Angeles County Bar Association, as well as a member of California Women Lawyers.

Although she started law school later in life, DeNardis said she is prepared to work hard, mostly to provide for her children and set a good example.

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"Knowing that I am possibly changing their futures in some way by attending college and then law school keeps me going," she said.


 
Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I spend as much time as I can with my husband and my boys. I also love volunteering. One of my favorite memories of my many years of volunteer work was when I was a volunteer referee for AYSO soccer during the year both of my oldest boys were playing soccer.
Q. What CD is in your CD player right now?
A. Kelly Clarkson, My December (her newest album).
Q. What is the last magazine you read?
A. It is summer, so I finally have time to read non-school items. I just finished reading In Style. Just because I am a mom and a student doesn't mean I don't want to be fashionable.
Q. What is your favorite TV show?
A. I must admit that I watch tons of legal dramas (fiction or real) with my husband every night before bed. That is our downtime together.
Q. Who is your role model?
A. I don't think I can pick just one here. So many people have inspired me to be the person I am today, whether it be past teachers/employers or friends and family.
Q. What is something most people don't know about you?
A. That I write poetry and absolutely love to sing karaoke!

Her experience has proven to be very useful in terms of preparing her for what she will have to endure. She has worked as a legal receptionist, paralegal, and legal secretary over the past few years, so she's familiarized herself with the field. DeNardis seems to be optimistic about the future and her path despite the challenges ahead.

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"Do I wish I would have done it right after high school? Yes. But then I wouldn't have had my three wonderful children," she said.

The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law

    


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