CLEO, Inc.

Q: What was your course of study in college at Bernard M. Baruch College – CUNY?

A: As an undergraduate student, I first intended to major in corporate communication and pursue a career in marketing or public relations.  As I was nearing the end of my undergraduate studies, I took a political science class to fulfill an elective requirement.  For the first time in my college career, I felt challenged and academically stimulated, so I stayed an extra year to complete a Political Science major.  I was nearly done with my corporate communication requirements, so I ended up doing a double major in Political Science and Corporate Communication.  

Q: How did you become interested in pursuing law?

A: I remember wanting to be a lawyer when I was very young, but I had largely forgotten about my desire to pursue a career in law until I took up a political science major at the end of my college tenure.  Among the courses I took to fulfill the requirements was a civil liberties course which primarily focused on 1st amendment rights; I enjoyed it very much.  Many of my classmates were already law-bound; they had either taken the LSAT or had already been accepted into law school.  I started to think about law school seriously because I figured that if so many of my political science classmates were on that path, I should explore it further.  Also, I had a strong interest in immigration policy, and began to think that maybe I could be an immigration lawyer.

Q: What steps did you take to prepare for law school?

A: The first step I took in preparing for law school was to find a job.  Although I knew that I wanted to go to law school, I was aware that it was something I could not do in the immediate future.  Law school is incredibly expensive and I had very little money saved up.  I also knew that I was not prepared to put together a competitive application by the time it was due.  I had begun to think about law school too late in my undergrad tenure to go straight into law school after graduation, so I deferred law school for a later date.  Throughout that time, I saved money by living at home.  I also used my evenings to study for the LSAT, researched the law school application process, and met with mentors about the process.

Q: How did you find out about CLEO?

A: Through one of my mentors during the application process.  He was already a student at Indiana University and was a CLEO Associate.  He learned about CLEO’s ASAP program and Six-Week Institute when it was too late for him to participate in either of them, but he stressed the importance of taking advantage of every program CLEO had to offer.  He said participating in all the CLEO programs would have prepared him better for the challenges of law school.

Q: Which CLEO programs did you participate in?

A: I first participated in the Achieving Success in the Application Process (ASAP) program.  The year I participated in it, the program was held in Atlanta, Georgia.  I also participated in the Six-Week Summer Institute, the summer before I started law school.

Q: What benefits did you receive by participating in CLEO’s ASAP, Six-Week Summer Institute and/or Attitude is Essential?

A: CLEO’s ASAP program was instrumental in helping me put together a strong application packet.  It is very unique to have an opportunity to speak one-on-one with admissions officers about the application process.  At the CLEO ASAP program, speakers will give straight-forward and candid advice about the process, and you’ll walk away a stronger applicant.  I remember thinking I was nearly ready to apply to law school before attending the program.  After participating in the program, I realized that I still had a lot of homework to do.  Without the help of CLEO’s ASAP program, I would have submitted a much weaker application and would have had a much tougher time getting into law school.

The Six-Week Summer Institute is a MUST for any student that has already been admitted to law school.  Keep in mind that the deadline to apply is likely before you have heard back from any schools, so apply early.  The Six-Week Summer Institute prepared me for law school better than I could have ever imagined.  I entered law school confident, prepared, and aware of exactly what I needed to do to succeed.

For many students, law school is a “trial-and-error” experience, especially the first two semesters.  Thanks to the Six-Week Summer Institute, I knew what to expect in my first semester, and my grades reflected that.  Additionally, the friendships I made at the Six-Week Summer Institute were everlasting.  I keep in touch with many of the students I met that summer, and I am so proud of everything they have accomplished.

Q: What helped you cope with the stress of law school?

A: I think keeping in touch with loved ones was very comforting for me through stressful times in law school.  Other than that, I did very little to distract myself from law school and the stress of the course work.  Law school is an incredibly competitive environment with very brilliant individuals.  While some of my classmates have been better at balancing school work and social life, I’ve always felt that I need to devote every minute of my day to law school, just to keep up.  That doesn’t mean it is the best approach.  You’ll have to find what works for you.  If an hour at the gym every morning will help you focus better throughout the day, then that is what you should do.  

Q: After law school, what are your legal career plans?

A: I hope to secure a judicial clerkship after law school, which is typically a 1-2 year commitment.  Afterward, I’d like to work either as an employment or housing attorney (which  typically works to protect tenants’ rights).  Specifically, I am interested in housing discrimination litigation or fighting against massive displacement due to gentrification.  At the moment, I’m exploring the possibility of seeking employment at one of the NYC legal service non-profits or a civil rights organization.   

Q: What are you doing presently?

A: Right now, I am a summer intern at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, which is a civil rights legal defense fund.  After my internship is done, I will return to Indiana University to finish my final year of law school.  

Q: Do you volunteer with any legal organizations?

A: This past year, I served on the board of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s (“HNBA”) Student Division and plan to stay involved with the HNBA after graduation.  

Q: Do you have any advice for future lawyers?

A: I think the best advice I have is to believe in yourself, but always be honest with yourself about the effort you are putting forward.  If you know deep down inside you can do better, or if you know that you’re not ready to commit three years of your life to law school, then don’t go.  But, if you are sure you’re ready for it, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Once you’re in law school, start thinking about internships, make sure you’re always networking, and don’t miss out on Law Review or Moot Court.