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I am excited to relaunch our EDL Movers & Shakers series, in which I interview career women and trailblazers. I’m starting with one of the oldest professions on earth; A Lawyer.
It’s the career that so many parents pray and encourage their children to pursue because of the prestige and financial stability of the profession. I pleased to say that I know more than a handful of Latinx lawyers, so I am well positioned if I am in any legal trouble, (LOL). However, I was shocked to read an article published just last month on NBC titled, “Where are All the Latino Lawyers? Hispanics Scarce in the Legal Profession,” reporter Raul A. Reyes cites,
“ According to statistics from the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), Hispanics – who are 18 percent of the population – comprise about 4 percent of U.S. lawyers. For Latinas, these numbers are even smaller; Latinas account for less than 2 percent of American lawyers.“
I just didn’t realize the number was so low. So, I was extra proud to reach out to my dear high school friend and fellow Libra, Carla Taveras, one of the less than 2% of Latinas practicing Law, for an interview. Check out her motivation to become a lawyer and her advice for aspiring Lawyers below.
EDL: What inspired you to become a lawyer?
CT: I came from an immigrant family. My parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic in search of a better life in the United States. From an early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of taking pride in our Dominican culture. I always strived to maintain a connection with my roots. I am proud to be both Dominican and American. I wanted to become a lawyer to help give a voice to the voiceless and help immigrants achieve their goals of maintaining or obtaining status here in the United States.
EDL: Did you take any classes in college that prepared you for law school?
CT: I majored in Political Science and minored in Latino Studies. The extensive reading and writing in undergrad laid a good foundation for law school. However, law school is a very different and challenging experience, unlike college. In law school, you receive a rigorous education in which you are trained among other things to think critically in a unique way.
EDL: Did you go to law school right after undergrad?
CT: I did not go to law school right after undergrad. I worked for a year and a half as a legal assistant/receptionist at a law firm.
EDL: Any tips for the Bar exam?
CT: Three tips: 1) Take a bar prep course 2) Take the bar exam seriously and 3) Find time to take care of yourself. Preparing for the bar exam can be both mentally and physically challenging and it is important to look for ways to decompress and stay healthy during the process.
EDL: How did you navigate college and law school?
CT: I connected with other students during college and law school that became my close friends. These friends served as a great support system and played an important role in helping me achieve my academic goals but also helped me in my personal growth.
EDL: What kind of law do you practice and why?
CT: I practice immigration law because of my interest in the field in light of my personal connection.
EDL: Were you involved in any clubs in undergrad? Any as a Law student? Do you think these helped you get to where you are now?
CT: I was not involved in any clubs in undergrad. During law school, I was a member of my law school’s Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA).
EDL: What is a typical day like at work?
CT: My days at work are varied. Some days my time is spent attending multiple client meetings and working on client files while on other days I’m either appearing in court or attending client appointments outside of the office.
I am also on the Board of The Dominican Bar Association (DBA). As part of my working with The DBA I serve on the Community Outreach Committee I help organize Know Your Rights legal workshops in Spanish on various topics. The purpose of which is to help empower the Latino community with knowledge and understanding of basic legal rights.
EDL: What advice do you have for an Educated Latina thinking about going into law?
CT: I would say never doubt your ability and follow your dreams! It is a challenging road with ups and downs but with perseverance and hard work you can do it! I know first-hand the difficulties associated with pursuing a higher education as a woman of color but do not let these hurdles define you and prevent you from achieving your goals. The legal profession lacks diversity and we need strong Educated Latinas who understand the unique challenges our communities face and who are committed to making a difference.
EDL: What do you love about being an Educated Latina?
CT: As a woman of color who is the first in her family to become a lawyer I do not take my position lightly. I recognize each day the privileges and opportunities afforded to me because of my title, however, I did not get to where I am alone. I took advantage of many opportunities and received the love, support, and guidance of friends, family, and educators who believed in me and encouraged me throughout my educational journey. I love being able to use my position to give back to my community each day.
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
College: New York University
Major: Political Science
Law School: St. John’s University
First-Generation College Student: No
Area of Law You Practice: Immigration
How Long: Close to 3 years
What I like to do for fun: Travel and shop
I hope you enjoyed the interview! If you have questions for Carla and the legal profession, please leave them in the comments, she’ll be glad to respond. Don’t be shy 😉
Let us know what other professions or trailblazers you’d like to see interviewed!