Issues,  Law School,  Legal Practice

The Latina Lawyer’s Creed

A few days after the Superbowl I read an article about Malcolm Butler, a player for the Patriots who had been working at a Popeye’s a few years earlier.  He credited his “confidence, faith, and hard work.” as the reason he had made it.

That statement resonated with me so much: confidence, faith, and hard work.  It jumped out at me because I realized that this phrase outlines exactly how Latinas can succeed in the law.

Latinas succeeding in the law

First and foremost, confidence is key.  I’ve said my piece about humility and while that often is a virtue in our cultures, being too humble can lead to stagnation.  Instead, when we strive to project self-confidence we begin to act differently.  We become more certain of our actions and don’t allow naysayers to cloud our judgement. More importantly, we demand our equal portion of the pie because we know we’re worth it.  We participate more in the classroom; easily navigate within our profession because we believe we have a right to be there.  Confidence for an aspiring Latina attorney is paramount.

Second, faith–whether it’s faith that a higher power is guiding you or faith in your own abilities–when this trust is created it completely changes your mindset.  You’ll experience the scrapes and bruises that come with surviving law school, but because of your faith you feel certain that you can overcome these barriers.  I think about the girl I was in high school–how I knew no attorneys (let alone Hispanic attorneys); how my family, while supportive, didn’t have much resources to help me achieve my goals; I think about the poverty I experienced, as well as some other very low moments and yet I still forged ahead and created a path that led me to law school.  I say this not to blow my own horn, but because I know so many have experienced or are experiencing the same thing.  And it is because of my faith, faith in myself and in my belief-system, that I was able to overcome the harsh reality–a reality that allows a high rate of Latinas to drop out of high school, and rarely allows us to attend college or even earn degrees in higher education.  My faith steadied me in the face of those obstacles and was the inner voice that always told me to keep on going.

Finally, hard work.  We all know we have to work hard to achieve our goals. Hard work isn’t something we typically shy away from, but to become a lawyer that’s also happens to be a woman and a person of color; we not only have to work hard, but often we have to work harder than most.  We have to work harder to overcome barriers our professional peers often don’t face; we have to work harder to familiarize ourselves with the culture of the legal profession so that we fit it and excel in it; and because so many people tend to doubt our ability, we have to work twice as hard to prove our worth.  We know it’s not enough to show up in our suit, because often we’ll still be confused for the support staff.  It’s intrinsically unfair, but I don’t mind working hard because I love to prevail (you see, that confidence comes in handy!).

So there’s your dose of motivation for the start of a new week.  If this motto can help propel a man to the Superbowl, then I think it can definitely help us earn a few more J.D.s behind our names.