Ellie Taranto '24

Inspired by a Life of Advocating for Others

It was 4L Ellie Taranto’s own personal journey that inspired her to pursue a career in law. “My older (twin) brother, Dennis, is an expert when it comes to all things YouTube, Raffi, Thomas the Train, and Disney World. Dennis has autism and has limited communication,” said Ellie. “He requires constant supervision for his safety and attends a day program with other adults with different abilities. My mother has been an amazing support system for my siblings as we navigate our lives. When a member of your family has special needs, your entire family's life depends on putting their needs first.” Witnessing her mother first-hand navigate the legal system to ensure that her brother Dennis had proper guardianship, care, and benefits inspired Ellie to want to pursue a career that similarly helped others.

“My first legal job out of undergrad was as a legal assistant at a workers' compensation and Social Security law firm,” said Ellie. “I loved being able to help people in this capacity during difficult periods of their life, but more importantly I learned so much about the legal system.” This job was a turning point for Ellie as she realized that it was through the law that she desired to help others. She has continued to solidify this decision through then working full time as a paralegal in personal injury and insurance recovery prior to and during her time at law school. 

When she applied to law school, of primary importance to her was her ability to not just continue to work while she attended school, but to have the ability to participate in important law school experiences even as a “non-traditional” student. “With the help of Adjunct Professor Lisa Denig, I was able to complete a Guided Externship (or, a "flex"-ternship as Professor Denig and I refer it to) during my 3L year.” Since she was working full-time, Ellie could not participate in a traditional externship or clinic, however, the guided externship allowed her the opportunity to receive class credit while being placed at a company outside of the school, during non-traditional working hours. “This opportunity allowed me to gain invaluable experience in a new and unfamiliar field to me on a schedule that worked best for me. I am forever grateful for that flexibility.”

Ellie is also on Pace Law Review, where she is serving as the Executive Promotions Editor for this school year as they’re hosting the Symposium later this Spring. Ellie notes that “Pace Law Review (and our other two law reviews as well) went above and beyond to make sure that Flex students were offered the same opportunities that were traditionally for full-time students.”

For Ellie, knowing she wanted a career helping others led her to explore law as an option, but it was her work experience that solidified that choice. “By gaining work experience in the legal field, I not only solidified my interest in law, but I also gained other skills that have benefited me in my studies and will ultimately help in my career. I would encourage others thinking about law school to consider volunteering or gaining work experience in law as well before applying to law school to ensure their interest in the field.”

In her spare time, Ellie loves utilizing her Peloton, spending time with her husband and stepson, and taking long walks with her (rescue) dogs, Tucker and Cooper.