From Athlete to Lawyer

Name: Kelly Galligan

Current Status: Alumni

Graduation Year: BA '10

Kelly Galligan (BA '10) grew up in Orange County, part of a large and energetic Catholic family.  Her brothers were all interested in finance, but Galligan’s passion for literature and language led her to pursue an English degree at HIU.  It was soccer, though, that initially attracted her to the University, as she had played club soccer under Joe Lurker, the HIU Men’s Soccer Coach, who introduced her to then-HIU Women’s Coach, Aaron Seifker.

She credits Natalie Hewitt, Associate Professor of English, with inspiring her to go from “athlete to geek,” becoming more studious and discovering more about herself and her aspirations; Cora Alley, Chair of the English Department, showed her how to “go beyond the words on a page and to put heart into writing.” Outside her major field of study, Steve Edgington, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Roberto Sirvent, Associate Professor of Political and Social Ethics, challenged her to learn history and politics, and to study them with an analytical and questioning attitude.

Galligan, like many students, found that her college years were a time of growth and a time of questioning her faith. Her Catholic background was very different from Thursday Chapel Services, where she learned that a relationship with God can be interpersonal.

“In those Chapel services, I saw my own peers being very comfortable with approaching God,” she said, “and the overall environment was warm and loving.”

Galligan believes that she was poised for success in a good law school and in her dream job because of HIU’s healthy-growth environment and the academic preparation she received.  After earning her bachelor’s degree, she attended University of California, Irvine (UCI) School of Law.

“I loved the minute details in contracts and drafting artful language to express exactly what I wanted to convey,” she said.  “My experiences and interests pointed me to a career as a corporate transactional attorney.”

She went to work for the regional firm of Rutan & Tucker, because of the firm’s connection to local business. After passing the Bar Exam, she joined the firm’s corporate department and now concentrates, predominantly, on mid-market mergers and acquisitions for local companies.

It is through her pro bono work that Kelly gets to share her compassion and analytical skills developed at Hope. 

“As an Orange County native, I am aware of the vast number of disadvantaged people in our community,” she explained.  “Given this, and my corporate law experience, I have focused my pro bono efforts in helping disadvantaged entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Her pro bono experience includes helping a small, minority-owned taco-catering company resolve debt and obtain insurance in order to operate as a formal entity, and advising a disadvantaged individual who was establishing an event planning company, regarding operations, contracts, and logistics. 

“I was fortunate to have attended HIU and the University of California, Irvine School of Law, two schools that emphasize the importance of helping and being kind to the less fortunate,” said Galligan.  “In my profession, that means providing legal services to those who cannot afford to hire an attorney, and practicing the law in a professional, ethical, and understanding fashion.”