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The Life and Career of Tracie Goodwin: Paralegal to Attorney

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For Tracie Goodwin, being a paralegal wasn't quite enough.

''After being a paralegal for about five years, I began looking for more of a challenge,'' she says. ''I decided to become an attorney mainly because I wanted more control over the work I did, and I wanted more of a challenge.''

Goodwin was born in Houston, Texas, but moved to Fresno, California, when she was 18. She had been working as a legal secretary for eight years when she decided to enter the paralegal arena.

"My boss had been giving me progressively more challenging projects, which I found more interesting than legal secretary work. The autonomy and the responsibility that came with being a paralegal appealed to me," she explains. "Once I decided to get a paralegal certificate, I had to find a paralegal program that worked with my schedule."

Working about 50 hours per week and married with children, Goodwin needed to find a flexible program. A two-year paralegal program at the city college and a one-year program at the local law school were being offered. After considering both, she found that neither worked well with her hectic schedule. A bit later, she found a 12-week, two-day-per-weekend course offered at California State University, Fresno, that worked for her. She received her bachelor's degree in liberal arts with a credential emphasis after a "grueling 12 weeks."

Although Goodwin's initial hopes of being a teacher didn't pan out, she continued her career in the legal field and has not looked back. After working as a paralegal for five years, she received the opportunity to progress further professionally.

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