Law School,  Legal Practice

Summer Series: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See

Summer Series 2019 continues! Today we have Karla Mardueno, a recent law grad from Howard law. She is studying for the Bar while completing a summer fellowship at MALDEF, and will begin working in Big Law once the Bar is over. That is a lot to balance, but she discusses who empowering it has been to begin her career surrounding by other powerful Lawtinas. 


“Don’t work while you’re studying for the bar.” This is the advice I got over and over again in the months leading up to my law school graduation.  But when I learned that I could complete a fellowship during my bar summer, I could not resist the urge to apply.

In September of this year, I will start my legal career as an Associate at a large law firm in my home city, Chicago.  Summers have always been my favorite season because it always marks the start of a new adventure.  Over my short career, I have completed ten different internships ranging from a Paleontology program in South Dakota to working for former First Lady, Michelle Obama at the White House.

As I prepare to start my career, I know that summers will be the part that I’ll likely miss most.  With this is mind, I was not willing to give up my last opportunity to be an intern.  I applied to several internships and ultimately decided to join the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), as a Legal Fellow for the summer.

Admittedly, the fellowship, studying for the bar, and balancing being back home permanently for the first time in over eight years has been challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  MALDEF has given me the opportunity to not only work on issues affecting my community but it has introduced me to a force of Latina lawyers.  For the first time in my life, I am surrounded by women who love the law, who look like me, and who use Spanglish in their day to day.  This has been powerful.

Until this summer, I could have never imagined the impact that representation has on a young professional like myself.  Of course, I have always looked to the Sonia Sotomayors for inspiration but rarely have I encountered a Latina lawyer within reach.  I know that I will leave MALDEF with a charge to continue to fight for justice for my community and to reach out to other Lawtinas who will come after me.  I leave you all with two take aways: first, do what is best for you even if it doesn’t always align with what other people think is best for you and secondly, realize the impact and importance of the work that we are all doing.  Remember that regardless of what law school you attend or what career path you chose, you are showing young Latinas everywhere that we exist and that they too can become a lawyer.