Alicia Morales always knew that law school was on the horizon for her. She majored in Political Science and Mexican American studies while at school in Arizona, but the passage of such bills as SB 1070, the ‘Papers Please’ law that promoted harmful and discriminatory practices, spurred Alicia’s passion for law and advocacy. After graduating, Alicia moved to Baltimore, where she resides with her partner, and began the evening program at the University of Baltimore School of Law while simultaneously serving as a paralegal in the Johns Hopkins Health System Legal/Compliance Department.
After enrolling in law school in 2014, she began to search for affinity groups and bar associations to join, when she discovered Lavender Law and the value it brings to LGBT law students. After learning of the annual conference & career fair, Alicia made plans to attend Lavender Law 2015. Unfortunately, personal conflicts derailed her plan and she had to postpone her attendance until this year.
“I knew that the opportunity to attend Lavender Law would be what I made [of] it,” Alicia said. She planned ahead, doing extensive research on all of the recruiting firms, finding where they had offices, if they had summer programs, how they reviewed candidates, and their diversity statistics in a number of fields, including Latina and LGBTQ figures firm-wide. Alicia also reviewed the complete conference schedule, deciding which programs and events were best for her to attend.
On the day of the career fair, Alicia came prepared. She’d brought 50 copies of her resume and transcript, as well as a list of the top 10 firms she wanted to meet. “I took a deep breath and spoke to every single firm that I could get in front of,” she said. “For me, this would be the only opportunity for me to have face to face time with these firms.” Alicia took the event in stride. With each table she stopped at, she handed over her materials and jumped right into a conversation with the attorneys and recruiters. She asked questions about the attorneys’ experiences, their likes and dislikes within the firm. At first, Alicia hesitated to stop at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s table. She’d reviewed their site extensively and, based on their top 10 recruiting schools, feared they would not consider her. But a friend recommended she talk with them and, because of her time spent on the Pillsbury website, she’d watched a video they’d posted explaining how to interview and suggesting 15 questions to use.
Alicia knew the importance not only of showing up, but of following up. After Lavender Law, Alicia followed up on all of the positive conversations she’d had, thanking the recruiters and mentioning a personal detail of their conversation. Alicia received a call back from Pillsbury in mid-September and had her final interview earlier this month. She will be a summer 2017 associate in their Washington, DC office. “Lavender Law was my north star. I participated in OCI on my campus, but I would not have the position I was offered without Lavender Law,” she said. Alicia knew that the endless hours of studying and the hard work she put in would lead her to success. She seized the opportunities presented, followed through, and now has the tools necessary to go forth and fight for the changes she wants to see.
When asked if she had any advice for future student attendees, Alicia suggested that they go to as much as possible and meet as many people as they can. She networked, made the rounds, and was even able to have an informal informational interview with Association President Eduardo Juarez, all because she took the initiative. “Law school is the start of a career. Be a self-starter. Find a path that you want to go down and do not give up until you get there,” Alicia said. “Do your research, show up and sell yourself.”