Motivation for Law School
Hometown: Miami, FL
- College of William and Mary | Hispanic Studies major, Sociology minor
Job: Scholar-Practitioner Fellow in Law, Innovation & Technology at the Institute for Law, Innovation & Technology (iLIT)
Program: Full-Time Day
I came to Temple Law because I wanted to learn how to make change. Before law school I worked as a paralegal assisting low-income, immigrant farmworkers. I frequently felt frustrated by the limited protections, rights, and remedies available to our clients, and I wanted to learn what pathways to change already exist or still need to be forged. I’m excited to say that my Temple education allowed me to develop and practice a change-making skillset that I know will help me shape the future of the law and the legal profession. My experiences in the Access to Justice Clinic; a practicum with the Institute of Law, Innovation, and Technology (iLIT); the Law and Public Policy Program (LPP); and a semester abroad at Temple’s Japan Campus in Tokyo (TUJ), all helped to expand my understanding of what is and my imagination of what could be. I’m motivated to continue developing this framework as I move forward in my career.
Advice From a New Law Grad
- If you have interests – seek them out! Don’t just get pulled into the stream of litigation (for example) if that’s not what you really want to do. You can create your own opportunities! Talk about your unique interests with anyone who will listen, and you’ll find people who can help you make those dreams a reality (see my networking tips in the next question). If you feel like you’re the only one who is into “your thing,” that isn’t bad—it’s what makes you marketable. When I was told this by one of my mentors, it emboldened and empowered me. I felt much more comfortable and confident speaking about my passions, and it led me to incredible opportunities.
- At the same time, you don’t have to limit yourself to one box or interest. Feel free to try everything, but in an intentional way. Reflect and adjust. Be open to changing your mind. Know that it’s an iterative process. My interests in law school were constantly evolving and refining until I landed where I am, and I’m sure they will continue to evolve as I learn more – as they should! Leave yourself open to this journey of self-discovery and you will be a much happier and more fulfilled person and lawyer at the end of the day.
- First I’ll say that networking can be as simple as talking about what you’re interested in with anyone who will listen. If you’re not sure yet what that is for you, all you need to do is ask others what their interests are. It can happen one-on-one in a coffee shop, at a cocktail party, at a brown bag lunch panel, during a professor’s office hours, anywhere really.
- A great place to start is Affinity Bar Associations, which the affinity student groups can help you get connected with. My experience with the Hispanic Bar Association was extremely positive. Even just going to one event can help you make connections that lead to informational interviews with practicing attorneys and policy advocates. These “getting to know you” conversations helped me to more effectively narrow down the kind of legal work I wanted to do by allowing me to ask current professionals about their career paths and to reflect on whether that aligned with my interests.
- Professors can also be a great way to connect with current professionals. You can poke around the Temple website to find out which professors specialize in your interest areas. They are always open to informational interviews as well, and can help you craft opportunities to get your feet wet in that subject for credit (through guided research) or part-time work (as a research assistant). Professors’ connections have helped me land internships, so don’t be afraid to go to their office hours or just cold email them.
- Another super helpful source of information is upper-class students. We love sharing information! We can help you figure out which professors to talk to, connect you with students who have done that clinic or taken that class or interviewed at that firm. Getting involved in student groups is a great way to meet other students, as is signing up for their mentoring programs. Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation and ask for the help you need.
Challenges Facing the Legal Profession
The legal field must make more space for innovation if it is to tackle the many challenges it faces, and it must start by teaching all law students how to innovate. In the legal profession, there are many things that still are because they always have been. I find that not enough time is spent reflecting on whether these traditions are actually working and if they should remain unchanged. Opportunities for reflection and imagination exist in the classroom, but they are the exception when they should be the rule. By providing practical training on how change is made, and providing more opportunities to practice the iterative process, students can develop the skills necessary to lead transformative efforts in all areas of the law. We must also ensure all students have their basic needs met (including food, housing, medical care, etc.) in order for them to be able to “show up” and be a fully engaged learner and innovator. My primary goal moving forward in my career is to contribute to innovative efforts that tackle injustice and inequity in all areas, but especially in legal education. I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of research and advocacy around these issues while at Temple, and will continue supporting these efforts after graduation in every way I can.
Don’t Miss Opportunities
Two opportunities unique to Temple that I highly recommend are LPP and TUJ! Temple’s Law and Public Policy Program (LPP) takes place each summer and includes both a class component and an internship component. Traditionally it takes place in Washington D.C., but there is now a remote option as well. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the avenues available for change-making at the local, state, and federal levels. Temple Law also has many study abroad opportunities that I highly encourage taking advantage of. My 3L spring I went to Tokyo to study at Temple’s Japan Campus. It gave me the opportunity to see up close how another legal system works and it expanded my ideas of what kinds of reform might be possible in our own. Some courses I took include Intro to Japanese Law, East-West Negotiations, and International Contract Drafting. It is an experience I will never forget and I hope that every student who wants to can have the opportunity to go as well!