Class of 2023: BA in Law, LP Grad Looks to Fill Gaps in Access to Legal Resources

April 27, 2023

“There needs to be more access to quality legal services, and resources need to be shared more so people aren’t struggling in their legal proceedings.”

Kaitlin Bridge

Name: Kaitlin Bridge 
Hometown: Prescott, Arizona 
Degree: BA in Law 
Awards, Student Groups, Clinics, Journals, etc.: Intern at Southern Arizona Legal Aid, The Marshall Foundation LP Scholarship, Darwin Anderson Memorial Scholarship, Collegiate License Plate fund and Prescott Alumni Scholarship, New Start Summer & Tuition Scholarships. 

What initially inspired you to major in law, and has that changed over the course of your studies? Originally, when attending the University of Arizona, I wanted to work in law to reform animal abuse and neglect laws. My goal was to strengthen laws to prohibit the abuse and neglect while prosecuting those who are convicted of being involved in dog fighting, animal abuse or neglect, and animal testing. While that still remains a goal of mine, my major focus shifted to wanting to assist families. When the Legal Paraprofessional program came about, I was informed of the large need of legal assistance in family law. I have seen the positive impact that comes with creating more access to free and low-cost legal services. Seeing this caused me to re-evaluate how I wanted to achieve my goals, leading me to the LP program! 

Why did you choose the University of Arizona? I originally chose the University of Arizona for their veterinary science program, but when I changed majors, I stayed for the B.A. in Law and LP programs. Out of all the universities I contemplated attending or applying to, the University of Arizona felt most like home. I spoke with the law advisor Kristen Kiepke when changing my major and I have been working with Kristy Clairmont for my Legal Paraprofessional certificate; both of them have been so supportive throughout this process.  Their support made me realize I made the right choice in attending the University of Arizona.  

How do you think you have changed from your freshman year to now? I think my career goals have become more realistic since freshman year. I have a clear vision of where I want to be, I want to work alongside like-minded people to bring quality legal services to those who cannot afford them. I am eager to start my career and I am more confident in my work than I was before.  

What will you miss most about your time at Arizona? If I had to pick one thing, I would say I would miss the atmosphere the most. Being surrounded by other individuals who are eager to make a positive change is unmatched. But I hope there won’t be much time to miss anything as I plan to pursue my Master of Legal Studies degree at the University of Arizona.  

What was your favorite law experience or extracurricular activity, and why? My favorite law experience has been my internship at Southern Arizona Legal Aid. I was able to see for myself how quality legal service can change the outlook people have on the legal system. Many people struggle knowing where to start with their case or they come to a point where they cannot do it on their own anymore. Assisting the attorneys that are providing legal advice gave me the chance to see the hope people gain when they begin to see the little light at the end of the tunnel.  At Southern Arizona Legal Aid interns were provided with countless opportunities to learn. I was able to learn about client communications, taking attorney notes, how to facilitate a meeting between an attorney and a client, scheduling clients, and the proper steps to take in each family law scenario and more.  

While at Southern Arizona Legal Aid, I had the opportunity to work on a few projects. I had the chance to put together a document of all the current case law for family law that is aimed at being provided to people new to the organization. In addition, I am working on a project that evaluates the Hague Convention when applied to the United States and the Italian Courts.  

What are you most proud of while at Arizona? Being that I am a first-generation college student, I am most proud of the fact that I am graduating with a 4 – year degree and that I am pursuing a career in a field that means a lot to me. It has not been easy, but I am proud of myself for sticking with it and pushing through to the end. 

Are there any particular issues or causes within the legal system that you are passionate about or want to address in your career? I want to address the lack of access to legal resources. The legal system can be so confusing, especially to those that are unfamiliar with it. Assuming that people can retain counsel or simply figure it out on their own isn’t fair. There needs to be more access to quality legal services, and resources need to be shared more so people aren’t struggling in their legal proceedings. If we don’t advertise these resources and how to gain access to them, people may never know we are here to help. I want to increase awareness of the Legal Paraprofessional Program as well. It is a great opportunity for those who do not have law school in the cards for them right now, but they still want to make positive changes. 

What are your future career plans? I plan to work for a Legal Aid Clinic as a paralegal while I study for and complete my licensing exams to become a Legal Paraprofessional. After that, I hope to implement programs for LLPs at legal aid clinics as well as provide future interns with insight into what work as an LLP looks like. I also plan to pursue a Master of Legal Studies to strengthen my foundation in family law while learning more to help future clients in any way that I can.  I hope to use my future license to assist future clients with their family law cases and hopefully provide them with a light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to.  

Looking back on your BA in Law experience, what would you have done differently or what advice would you give to your younger self? I would have told my younger self to not be afraid of changing majors from veterinary science to law, that it is okay to change your mind. I feel that there can be a stigma surrounding students being unsure of their future career you want to pursue or if you want to change your major, it is frowned upon. I wish I would’ve made the switch sooner because I am so happy with the path I am pursuing.  

Message for your fellow Class of 2023:  I hope that each and every one of you is proud of yourselves, we have all accomplished something amazing. Continue to work hard and dream big! I wish every one of you good luck in all of your future endeavors.