ALUMNI PROFILE Timothy Stephens
A second career
Timothy J. Stephens, Jr. (MJ ’20) had a thriving career as a litigation paralegal. When he started to move into compliance-related paralegal work and soon afterward had a health scare, he decided to change his professional trajectory—with the help of skills he gained in Loyola University Chicago’s Master of Jurisprudence (MJ) in Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management program. Today, Stephens is a compliance analyst in complaints oversight for American First Finance.
In 2018, Stephens had a bout with cancer and came out the other side wondering “what I could do to make the most of the second opportunity I’d been given,” he says. “I love academia and learning, and I felt my career as a paralegal was stagnant. I decided to go back to school.”
Comparing several law schools’ MJ programs, “I kept coming back to Loyola,” Stephens says. “I looked at the foundational core courses, but also on what electives were available to me and how I could tailor them. Loyola offers a nice variety that I knew would help me prepare for a career in compliance and risk management.”
As a compliance officer, Stephens drafts written responses to regulatory agencies, identifies and analyzes complaint data to identify overall complaint trends and systemic root causes, brainstorms ideas for addressing those causes, and shares analyses with the company’s business units and collaboratively develops action plans as needed, among other responsibilities.
“I’ve used skills from every single one of my Loyola courses.”
“I’ve used skills from every single one of my Loyola courses,” Stephens says. For instance, as a compliance consultant for Volkswagen Credit Inc., a position he held before moving into his current job, Stephens was gatekeeper for his department’s policies and procedures. “My Drafting Policies and Procedures elective prepared me to complete that task and do it comfortably,” he says.
At the same job, Stephens was responsible for conducting compliance training for new hires. “The experience I gained from my compliance training methods course allowed me to look at the existing training module and make changes that were more effective for a class of new hires,” he says. In that same course, Stephens picked up a technique—writing a paper of 10 or fewer sentences that a reader can absorb in one minute or less—he later modified to create one-minute refreshers on compliance topics for his colleagues.
Stephens liked his MJ program’s online format, including its live class components, and enjoyed networking at the immersion weekends so much that he continued attending even after he’d completed the required two weekends.
“I received very practical training at Loyola,” Stephens says. “I didn’t want to sit in a virtual classroom, do the coursework, and never use it again. I wanted to apply what I learned to my everyday work. Loyola’s program has let me do just that.” —Gail Mansfield