I had told myself as I was entering law school that immigration law would be a viable practice area to pursue, both economically and ethically, given its inexorable demand. I also believed the field provided the satisfaction of helping hardworking, underprivileged individuals with whom I could easily identify, being the son of immigrants who have fought hard for, and have ultimately obtained, the American Dream.
I am also fortunate enough to speak three languages fluently (English, Spanish, Farsi) and am currently working on establishing fluency in my fourth (Portuguese). My language skills came to me as a byproduct of working extra hard waiting tables during my undergraduate career as a Poli-Sci major and Spanish minor, and as I continued to wait tables as a part-time evening student here at New England Law.
As my 1L year came to an end, battle-hardened and jaded, I was struck by the epiphany that I must accelerate my studies to finish in three, instead of four years, and make my way into the legal work force ASAP. I kept my GPA up, took a summer class, and applied to transfer into the full-time day division so that I could finish up in spring 2014.
That summer after my 1L year I managed to grab a last-minute internship with a busy private, solo-practitioner who dealt primarily with Social Security, family law, and criminal defense and who needed a Spanish speaker. The first two practice areas would resurface at my time with the Lawyering Process Clinic here at New England Law in the spring of my 2L year.
Participating in the Lawyering Process Clinic was a hidden blessing, as I had initially had my heart set on joining the widely coveted Immigration Clinic. To my dismay, I was wait-listed as priority was given to upperclassmen. It was at this point that Professor Engler, the school’s clinic director, reached out to me and the other disappointed clinic applicants and proposed that we instead join the Lawyering Process Clinic to experience a significant primer on how to work and operate in a law office, and to seize an opportunity to develop basic, fundamental, litigation skills.
I obliged, and that is exactly what I did–I gained real-life, hands-on, tangible experience and lawyering skills, which I have seamlessly transferred into the potential career-building positions that I have had over the past year. Social Security, family law, and unemployment were the principal practice areas in the school’s in-house clinic, at which I was placed. The system is a win-win, I realized, because low-income indigent clients are getting free legal services, while green, aspiring attorneys are getting their first taste of real-life action, both in and out of court, under the close supervision and training of the school’s clinical professors.
My 2L year was an incredible cornerstone of my law school career, as it also allowed me to join the CORI Project here at the Center for Law and Social Responsibility (CLSR). I initially joined upon hearing of the school’s "Public Service Honor Roll" opportunity for accruing 25 hours of pro bono work. But I quickly became enraptured by the experience, after realizing the positive impact I was making on the lives of many less fortunate people, as well as being able to hone the necessary skills that would allow me to become a competent and confident attorney–just a few hours a week, every Friday.
It all came so naturally to me, to the point that I was asked by my friend and colleague, Andrew Higley (who runs the program under the aegis of Professor Siegel) to help out with training the CORI newcomers in my 3L year. At the end of the fall semester of my 3L year, however, I had to make a bittersweet farewell, because I landed my dream position as a (paid!) paralegal at an extremely busy, fast-paced and thriving “Crimmigration” law office (Criminal Defense + Immigration) in Government Center. I have been at this office for about four months now and there has been a mutual indication of long-term, postgraduate employment. I am elated, to say the least.
I owe many thanks to the skills I have gained; the friends, colleagues and mentors that I have made; and the experiences I have had throughout my time at the CLSR, the in-house clinic, and at New England | Boston generally. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for these experiences and opportunities.