Randi Byrns

Dual Degree in Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) and Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Online

Paralegal, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company 

Indianapolis, IN

A degree that combines the best of both worlds

Indianapolis native, Randi Byrns, had been working as a paralegal in litigation defense for several years when she began to feel pulled toward mediation. She enrolled in Pepperdine’s online Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) program, and when the law school began offering the dual MDR/Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree, that seemed like an ideal fit to keep her career options open. 

“I like the alternative of dispute resolution. I like that it emphasizes working together, and it fits my personality better than litigation does, to be honest.” 

Applicable skills that enhance her work

While Randi already held a B.S. with a concentration in law and public policy from Indiana University, she found that her graduate classes at Pepperdine covered legal topics in greater depth and gave her skills that she could directly apply to her work. 

“I’ve actually gotten better at writing the motions and talking to clients and explaining the process in my paralegal role, and it’s really just enhanced my work product as a paralegal.”

Real-world experiences

Among the notable experiences she’s had in the program, Randi cites the in-person residency at the beginning of the program, when she traveled to Pepperdine’s campus. Also impactful are the group projects. 

“In my International Commercial Arbitration class we did an actual tribunal, so we had to work together in teams. It was nice to prepare and understand how this is used in reality, not just a simulation in class.”

Understanding the demands of working while earning a degree

Randi acknowledges that the workload for the dual degree program can be a lot, especially if you’re working full time. She has found success by breaking down the assignments into smaller pieces and re-watching the recorded lectures when necessary. And if she gets overwhelmed, she has found that her classmates and professors are very understanding. 

“A lot of the people in this program are working professionals, so if you feel like you need someone to talk to, they are the best people to reach out to because they truly understand. And it’s the same with the professors.”

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