The focus of the Hispanic National Bar Foundation Law Fellows Program is to increase the number of Hispanic lawyers practicing in corporate legal departments. Because of the rapidly changing demographics in the United States, corporate legal departments have recognized that diversity in the legal profession is a best business practice that they must promote.
In light of this business need, the HNBF has created the Law Fellows Program to promote diversity in the legal profession with a different approach than existing programs implemented to promote diversity in the legal profession. Several existing programs currently place minority law students in a law firm environment for a traditional summer associate experience. Differently, the Law Fellows Program will provide participating law students with the unique opportunity to join a corporation's legal department to focus on matters important to company business. The Law Fellows Program will also include a law firm component to expose the students to how law firms handle legal matters for its corporate clients.
The HNBF selects first-year law students to participate in the Law Fellows Program. The program includes training, professional development, and work experience in Washington D.C., and in-house at the company's legal department.
The program runs in the summer months anywhere from 6-8 weeks. Each Law Fellow receives a weekly stipend for participating in the program. Transportation cost from the student's home to D.C. may be covered by the HNBF as well as transportation cost from D.C. to the company site, if necessary.
The training and orientation component may take place in D.C. during the weekend before the official start of the program. The training component consists of the Law Fellows participating in sessions during the summer focused on legal writing and research, oral communications, and negotiation skills.
The work experience component consists of the Law Fellow working in-house at a corporation's legal department, and/or at the company's government relations/public policy office in Washington D.C. working on legal and public policy matters important to the company's business, or alternatively, at the D.C. offices of an outside law firm that provides legal services to the company.
Special Thank You To The Law Fellowship Founding Sponsor:
And Thank You To Our 2012 Sponsor:
To learn more about the Law Fellows Program or to apply contact Christie Lewis, Interim Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Introducing our 2012 Law Fellows
Karolina Murguia is a 2L at the University of Houston Law Canter. Karolina is originally from Central Texas. She graduated from Rice University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies and Policy Studies. She completed her Master of Public Health degree from University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health in the area of Management Policy and Community Health. Karolina has remained active in the Houston Hispanic Community and has served on the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Health Coalition and has volunteered with the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston. Karolina is interested in International law, Immigration, and Health Care Law.
Angela Bouliakis is a 3L at American University Washington College of Law. She is originally from Miami, Florida, and a graduate of the University of Florida. Angela comes from a diverse background. Her mother is Mexican and her father is Greek. She is proud to be the first person in her family to graduate from college in the United States and to attend law school. She enjoys mentoring minority students by providing insight into what she has learned as a first-generation student in the United States. For the upcoming year she will serve as President of the Latino/a Law Students association and as a member of the Immigrant Justice Clinic. Angela's HNBF Law Fellowship placement was at the lawfirm of Rivero Mestre LLP in Miami, Florida.
Meet a 2011 Law Fellow Alumni
Luis Gutierrez is a 1L at the University of Houston Law Center. Luis acquired experience in the fast paced multinational oil and gas industry with his HNBF Law Fellowship in Chevron's legal department in Houston, Texas.When asked about the value of his experience, Luis shared, "The Law Fellows program has given me the opportunity to explore areas of law that I had not previously thought about and now I'm taking an oil and gas class. Chevron opened my eyes and I enjoyed the experience. It made me realize that I can do this and be good at it."
As a summer Law Fellow at Chevron, Luis was able to apply his legal writing and contracting skills he gained in law school to real life situations. "I got a crash course in international oil transactions. It was an eye opener and a real education to see the complexity and the risks involved."
The greatest value of the experience for Luis was the mentorship. "Learning from and having a close relationship with my supervisor was invaluable. She shared professional and career advice that I will never forget." When asked, what he would tell others interested in becoming a Law Fellow, Luis shared, "Definitely go for it! Don't think twice. It's a great opportunity to be in a setting that you may not normally find yourself in--a corporate legal department. You get to interact with very capable and accomplished attorneys--take full advantage of this mentorship opportunity."
Luisa Cardona is a 1L at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. She was selected as one of the HNBF's Law Fellows in 2011. Luisa's fellowship was at the law firm of Rivero Mestre in their Miami, Florida offices. During her fellowship, Luisa reviewed international cases; researched civil and criminal procedure for international cases; and wrote memos for the attorneys. When asked about her career aspirations after the program, Luisa shared, "The Law Fellows experience opened a new career door for me in international commercial litigation. I discovered a deep human base to the work and I decided that it was something I wanted to pursue."
According to Luisa, "The most valuable aspect of the Law Fellows program was the people I met--meeting so many Hispanics that were successful and in good positions, who loved their work, and were giving back to the community."
Meet a 2010 Law Fellow Alumni
Justin Carlson had the unique opportunity as an L1 to do a summer fellowship at Chevron. During his fellowship at Chevron, Justin worked on drafting contracts in Spanish. "I found this work to be really interesting; it was invaluable to draft legal documents in Spanish because it's not something I have the opportunity to do in my day to day life--everything I do is in English." Mayda Prego, Senior Counsel at Chevron said, "The HNBF Law Fellowship creates incredible professional opportunities for Latino law students with the future impact of more diverse corporate legal departments."
Justin's legal education had focused solely on domestic law but through his HNBF Law Fellows experience he was exposed to international laws and relations. "This was a rare opportunity that most L1 students don't get." Furthermore, Justin conducted research on international laws and United Nations? laws and policies pertaining to Middle Eastern countries. "After my experience working with Chevron, I believe I could have an enriching experience in an international corporation. Going in-house is high on my list of considerations."
Justin describes what was most valuable for him as a Law Fellow, "Being an HNBF Law Fellow sets you apart from most first year law students. Having that on my resume, the contacts as references, and engaging in the work I did, all combined has made me a more marketable candidate in a competitive job market."
As an HNBF Law Fellow, Gabriela (Gabby) Gross Guinan, had the opportunity to experience firsthand what it was like to work in the legal department for a major telecommunications company. "Working for Comcast really piqued my interest; now I plan to pursue my legal career in telecommunications--it's a really exciting field to be in."
During her fellowship at Comcast, Gabby conducted legal research on cyber security and privacy issues. In addition, to her six week fellowship at Comcast, Gabby spent two weeks at the DC law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP, a firm representing Comcast. During her time at the firm she reviewed the Communications Act and identified instances of discrimination and wrote a memo on what discrimination looks like in the act.
Gabby leveraged her HNBF Law Fellows experience to gain access to even more opportunities. "The experience opened doors for me and continues to do so even today. My fellowship at Comcast helped me land my internship this past summer at the FCC."
Gabby describes what was most valuable for her as a Law Fellow, "Working in a corporate legal department and law firm was an incredible experience. Getting both perspectives was invaluable. Potential employers have been impressed by the opportunity that the HNBF Law Fellows program afforded me."
As an HNBF Law Fellow, Rafael Perez experienced firsthand the pace and day-to-day operations of working in a large telecommunications corporation. In the Comcast legal department, Rafael conducted torte and criminal legal research, reviewed federal regulations on the internet and telecommunications, and improved his legal writing skills. In addition, he was able to receive meaningful feedback on his work by experienced corporate attorneys.
As a lawyer from Venezuela and a first year U.S. law student, he was able to utilize his language skills to provide Comcast feedback on advertisements targeting Hispanics and written in Spanish. He also ensured the advertisements were compliant with applicable marketing laws.
Rafael's experience at Comcast gave him exposure to the professional life of corporate counsel and it changed his career aspirations. "I used to want to have my own private practice but after my HNBF Law Fellows experience, I want to do corporate work in international transactions. This experience really helped me recognize my unique value as a Latino in a transnational corporation--a value that would not be as appreciated in a domestic corporation."
The HNBF opens doors to careers in corporate legal departments for Latino law students. When asked about the most valuable aspect of his HNBF Law Fellows experience, Rafael shared, "The people I met, networking, contacts with mentors, interacting with successful lawyers and successful corporate professions?and of course working with Comcast and the HNBF."
The HNBF selects only a handful of talented first year law students each summer for this unique, paid fellowship. When asked what he would tell others who were thinking of applying to be a Law Fellow, Rafael said, "I would encourage them so hard to apply. It was an amazing experience that helps in the future and present. This experience will be valued by future employers and you're going to be associated with a wonderful organization--the HNBF. And you will have fun."