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Master of Legal Studies Program Helps Aaron Yancey Ramp up for Law School


NKU MLS student Aaron Yancey

Aaron Yancey didn't have to wrestle with choosing a career. Instead, the profession chose him.

"I have always noticed when people get the short end of the stick," he said. "I am a loudmouth, as my mom, Kristen, would call me, so when I see something, I have to stand up and say so. 'You can argue for days. You need to be an attorney,' was instilled into my brain."

Yancey is on track to graduate from the online Master of Legal Studies program at Northern Kentucky University in December 2021.

"The program is perfect," he said. "I was looking for something where I wouldn't have to go to a physical building and could do it on my time. I also didn't want to be overwhelmed with a large amount of legal vernacular and procedures.

"NKU did a good job explaining that the program is for individuals who are coming from different sectors and looking to either advance their understanding of technology or introduce the concept of civil and criminal procedure, law and research analysis — that's what drew me in. I could get baseline knowledge so when I go to law school, I don't look like a farce."

The flexibility of the online format was essential for Yancey. In addition to serving full time as a document specialist for Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Cincinnati, he works at Hamilton County Education Services Center.

"It's definitely manageable," he said. "The professors are great. I stay at work for pre-and post-trial conferences when we have trials. Not having that live, mandatory requirement, it's easy to make your own schedule and work on school around it."

Thinking Out Loud

Yancey, who is from the Cincinnati area, knew that he wanted to further his education after high school. Although law school was in the back of his mind, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in advertising and digital media from Xavier University in 2019.

"Once I got older and got into politics, legal procedure and how these things that seem so complex have a large grasp on my life, it drew me in more," he said. "Most people from my hometown only go to high school. I wanted to go back for a master's degree."

The COVID-19 pandemic hit not long after Yancey completed his undergraduate degree, which left him in limbo.

"It was crazy," he said. "Everybody was either going back to school, finding a remote job or collecting unemployment. My mom is a school counselor, so I sat down and asked her what she thought I wanted to do. She also has a master's degree.

"I toyed around with starting law school or maybe doing a certified paralegal program. Then we found the Master of Legal Studies program at NKU. The timing was great."

So far, LAW 927: Law for Digital Entrepreneurs is Yancey's favorite course in the online Master of Legal Studies program curriculum.

"We explored different nonprofits and smaller, independent companies and combining all of these brand-new technologies into whatever practice they're doing," he said. "We also looked at a Cincinnati nonprofit that empowers young women by helping them create a business and develop a product.

"It's been interesting to see how complex the legalities are even for something that seems so simple and necessary. I learn things at work; then I'll go into class and see traces of what I am doing. I know it's on par and current with the industry."

Talking the Talk

Yancey looks forward to celebrating his big accomplishment by walking in the commencement ceremony at NKU, but he is seeing the master's degree pay dividends even before he dons the cap and gown.

"I already have the whole family scheduled to attend graduation," he said. "If I wasn't already pursuing the degree, the opportunity at the law firm would not have come to fruition. Having a master's degree will open up more opportunities for me."

With most of his courses completed, Yancey has some advice for potential students in the online Master of Legal Studies program.

"Keep an open mind," he said. "There are things that don't involve your industry. But, once you see the content of the courses, you're going to relate."

Although Yancey is focusing on a legal career, he still enjoys passing on knowledge to elementary school children. And he'll soon be a "loudmouth" with a graduate degree.

"I definitely got good value out of the Master of Legal Studies program at NKU," he said. "Now, I feel prepared for law school."

Learn more about NKU's online Master of Legal Studies program.


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