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    UC Student of the Month Archive - Catherine DeRose

    Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies gives adult learner foundation she needs to pursue career in Real Estate law
    Dominican alumna Catherine DeRose is on a mission. Her goal is to earn a Doctor of Jurisprudence so that she can practice law as an attorney. DeRose, who first earned an associate degree at Triton College in River Grove two years ago, took that first step toward meeting her goal by applying for and then earning a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies from Dominican. She graduates in January 2015, and has been taking classes while also working as an administrative assistant at Inland Real Estate Corp. in Oak Brook.

    Catherine DeRose - Dominican  

    What drew DeRose to Dominican’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies and kept her motivated to complete the BLS program? “It was that they had on-campus classes and were flexible with my schedule,” said DeRose, who works full-time but was still able to attend several evening classes a week held on Triton’s campus – even completing four to five courses in one semester. “And these are smaller classes – there were usually less than five of us in a classroom, so were learning a lot and had a lot of time for discussion with the professor.”

    She also had a friend enrolled in Dominican’s BLS program who was studying to take the LSAT to enter law school. “I thought [the BLS program] would help prepare me for taking the LSAT, too,” she said.

    Each of Dominican’s undergraduate courses in the BLS program is held at Triton College, and sessions run for eight weeks at a time. Each class session is three hours in the evening, she said, “So you have a chance to learn a lot from the other people in the class, too, because of the amount of time allotted to discussion.” DeRose has taken all but two of her classes in the face-to-face format; the other two were online-only classes she took from Dominican during the summer

    She said she took a particular interest in BLS coursework that included the study of Real Estate law, legal contracts, criminal law, administrative law, freedom of speech and the American legal system. In class, she said she gained an in-depth understanding of how a professional closes on a property being sold, and her exposure to the ins and outs of legal contracts, including the terms commonly used, will be a great help to her as she continues to learn about Real Estate law, even in the job she holds now and beyond.

    DeRose’s current role at Inland Real Estate Corp. enables her to gain more insight outside of class into the field in which she is most interested in pursuing work. It’s a great learning experience and working experience for me to work with property managers,” DeRose said. As an executive legal assistant – DeRose’s next step – she would be proofing all of the legal documents that a law firm sends out. “You are doing administrative work, too, but you are essentially the attorney’s and counsel’s legal assistant,” she said.

    Her favorite class focused on criminal law. “I learned about the policies and procedures involved in criminal law proceedings,” DeRose said. “My professor is passionate about it because he is teaching but has also been a police officer for so long.” She also appreciated the instruction she received in a class that focuses on issues related to freedom of speech. “We were able to discuss all of the current events going on,” DeRose said. “My professor is an attorney; she has her own practice, so she was able to talk about what was going on in the news and how [those topics] relate to freedom of speech.”

    DeRose’s administrative law class gave her insight on the functions of government agencies, she said, and a class on the American legal system “focused on the ins and outs of the legal justice system and got me familiar with the courts and defending in court.” What impressed her the most, she said, was the caliber of teaching she received – her professors all are or have been professionals in the field.

    What DeRose learned in class about handling legal contracts and oral legal professionalism she learned from attorneys. “All of the teachers are great resources because all of them have such a great background,” she said. “They have a lot of experience. And my class on the American legal system – that was one of the first courses that I took, and [my professor] has his own practice. He would talk about the cases he has handled.”

    One professor had students coming up with questions they would ask a witness in court or questions pertaining to how they would address a client who showed up in an office in which they worked. “We would role play as if we already worked in a law office, as if we were interviewing a witness for their case, or if a client came in wanting to present a case, getting them prepared for their court date,” DeRose said. “We learned about the interview process of speaking with clients and witnesses before they ever appear in court.” The mock cases students used for role-playing exercises in class mirrored real cases, she said. “We would read through the case, and then [the professor] would assign one person as a witness, one as a defendant, one as a plaintiff,” DeRose said. “We were the attorneys and also those who were answering.”

    Students also learned how to handle interaction with different types of clients – “those who are nervous or panicky, who don’t know what to expect; [we learned] how to make them feel comfortable and how to adjust to the environment within a law firm.”

    On a mission? Yes, and Catherine has made great progress in achieving that mission by earning her first degree at Triton and her second degree at Dominican University.

    Catherine DeRose/ Dominican University Legal Studies program at Triton/Bachelor's Degree 2015

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