A Family Effort
UI law graduate found support she needed to earn Juris Doctor while supporting her family.
The first time Alexandra Babilis decided to go into law, the choice was an easy one.
“My dad was an attorney. When I was 13 he gave me an option: I could either do yard work in their five-acre yard or go to his law office and work there. So obviously, I chose the law office with air conditioning,” she said.
While working in her father’s family law office in Ogden, Utah, she witnessed the impact that he had on others. “We would see them at their worst, and then see how he could help them. He represented a lot of dads. He thought that was important – it was in the ’90s, so father’s rights were a little lacking,” she said.
Two degrees, a divorce and three children later, Babilis again made the choice to enter the law field. She completed her first year of law school at the University of Idaho’s College of Law in Moscow before transferring to the College of Law’s Boise location to finish her degree closer to family. Babilis will graduate with her Juris Doctor in December.
After graduating, Babilis hopes to go back and practice family law and criminal defense in Ogden. The oldest of seven, Babilis has two siblings who also are lawyers.
“When my youngest (child) started kindergarten full time, I thought it was now or never. So I decided to go to law school,” she said.
This time, the choice wasn’t as easy of a decision.
“I’ve always been the sole provider for my kids,” she said. “I think the most terrifying thing for me was to quit a job where I could support my kids to having no job and not knowing if law was for me.”
Thankfully, attending UI’s College of Law wasn’t a decision she has regretted.
“I’ve had a really enjoyable experience. I can’t think of any time where I questioned myself on why I went to law school,” she said.
Her parents, siblings and children united to make her goals possible.
“A large part of my finishing law school was to teach my children the importance of obtaining their educational goals to attain a better position in life regardless of the detours they may encounter along the way,” she said. “My kids, parents and I had to learn to work together as a team.”
Advice from a former classmate also has helped Babilis balance being a single mother and earning her law degree.
“I received good advice from a 2L at the time. She told me that she woke up at 3 a.m. to get her studying done so she didn’t have to do it after school,” she said. “So I get up anywhere between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., depending on how much school work I have. I’ve made it to most of my kids’ sports and school events. It has worked out well.”
It wasn’t just the early morning studying that helped her balance law school and family.
“All my professors have been really warm and helpful. It was nice knowing that if I had any questions that I could meet with them,” she said. Faculty and staff in both Moscow and Boise were always willing to help, “as long as you are willing to reach out there will be answers.”
In addition to her studies, Babilis completed two summer externships with the Odgen City Prosecutor’s Office in Ogden, Utah. She said in addition to gaining real experience in a courtroom, she picked up a sense of self.
“That was the one focus of mine when I entered the courtroom, just be confident.” she said, “I think that is my one big piece of advice is to just be confident in yourself and your abilities.”
Article by Cara Hawkins-Jedlicka, College of Law