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Veteran charts new career path at ASU Law

Portarit of ASU grad Lucas Woyton.

Veteran Lucas Woyton is charting a new path as a legal paraprofessional after earning his Master of Legal Studies from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Courtesy photo

December 08, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.

Going to law school wasn’t always the career path for Master of Legal Studies graduate Lucas Woyton. Hailing from Cherry Creek, New York, Woyton spent over 10 years in the U.S. Marines doing nearly everything except shooting an Abrams tank. Flying F/A-18s and the RQ-7B unmanned aircraft was a “dream job” for Woyton. Upon leaving the Corps as a Major, he went to work as a government contractor.

“I've always had a lot of fun doing things I can't talk about,” Woyton joked. “But the time was right for a change.”

That change came around the summer of 2022 when a friend informed Woyton of Arizona’s new legal paraprofessional (LP) career field.

“When I found out I could complete the LP licensure requirements in about a year, I knew it was something I owed to the community.”

Seven years prior, Woyton realized through firsthand experience that one’s ability to pay a lawyer’s fees largely determined whether the truth would be found.

“As I counted my pennies and gathered my life savings to pay a lawyer’s retainer, I was terrified not only that I could lose it all, but that I would lose my family too,” Woyton said. “Unfortunately, there are other Arizonans who are placed in this position every day. They need someone they can not only trust but afford. As an LP, I can charge less than an attorney and lean on my life experiences to deliver the same quality or better representation.”

Thus began his change in career and path to ASU Law.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: It’s no secret to Arizonans that ASU is the best law school in town. Having an ASU diploma on your wall instantly establishes credibility. Because I plan to practice in Yuma, when I found out ASU could also accommodate my schedule of working part time and being a full-time parent, it was kind of a no-brainer.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: You’re probably only worrying about your diploma, but consider that it’s never too early to think about what retirement looks like. Over the years, I’ve been to quite a few retirement ceremonies, and the universal retirement speech seems to be, "I wish I spent more time with my friends and family." So now, while you’re still in school, go out and meet people. Not just to build professional networks, but also to find those lifelong friends. Then, when you get that diploma, always make sure to balance your work and family lives accordingly.

Q: What about advice for those considering ASU Law?

A: Well, now that they've trained me almost to practice law (I still need to pass the bar exam), I'm pretty much obligated to say to trust your instincts, and only you can make the decision based upon your own objectives, the risks you're willing to take and facts as you know them. Personally, I'm glad I chose ASU Law and would do so again. Generally, if you’re in Arizona and want to go to the best law school there is, ASU is for you.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: We’re expecting our third child two days before graduation, so for the short term, I plan on suffering from narcolepsy. After that, I plan to resume working at a local family law firm and carry the torch when the current owner retires in the next few years.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would literally tackle anyone who prevents the Buffalo Bills from winning their first Super Bowl this year!

In all seriousness, though, I've always thought sufficient education was a problem on this planet, from preventing someone from making informed decisions to reducing their own sense of self-worth. If young adults were provided alternative means to develop their critical thinking skills and be enabled to make their own choices more comfortably, we’d all be better off in the long run.

Q: What does graduating mean to you and your loved ones?

A: Since I’m a parent myself, graduating means that my children have a role model and someone to look up to. It also reassures my parents that they must have done something right.

Q: Who, if anyone, helped you get here?

A: I'd like to thank my mentor, Amanda Taylor, for everything that she's done. I'd also like to thank Keith Berkshire, Erica Leavitt, Alex, Kristi and Jeanette for their exemplary professionalism, dedication and inspiration.

Q: Did you participate in any clinics, programs or externships that have helped you reach this point?

A: I've been working part time as a paralegal at a local law firm to gain the required experiential learning credits and help pay the bills. If it weren't for the hands-on experience, I know I wouldn't have done so well.

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