By Brenda Hernandez • December 15, 2012•Writers in Residence
I’ve written a lot over the past 12 months about the skills one can gain in law school and how, as an attorney, one can use those skills to give back to the community. However, the most important lesson I have learned through my journey as a law student and then as a non-practicing attorney is that visibility is crucial. By visibility I mean the shear presence of one’s body in a space that is usually not seen as their place to dwell. Just one’s presence in law school and the legal field is important in order to give other girls and women the motivation and confidence to do the same. When people think about what a lawyer looks like, I am sure many people picture a white man in a suit. Changing the perception in people’s minds of what an attorney looks like helps to plant the seed of possibility of becoming a lawyer in the minds of those that may never have considered it.
A great way to increase one’s visibility is to increase the number of women in leadership roles. If you are a law student, being president of a student organization or editor-in-chief of the law review increases your visibility on campus and in the community. This will demonstrate to other women that we can attend law school and thrive. As a practitioner, one can assume a leadership role at work or in the community. It is important to put yourself out there and by doing so become a role model to other women.
A month ago I met with students from my alma mater to discuss my path to law school. This was such a rewarding experience. It is not only important to be present but to be vocal about my path as well. As a first generation college and law school graduate, I have a journey that many students can appreciate and relate to. It is imperative to be a mentor to others. Mentorship is an important element of career advancement and inspiration. Finding someone who can relate to your experience is vital and can make all the difference to your own life path.
I will continue to be a mentor to women and girls considering a legal career, those interested can follow me on Twitter @BoricuaFeminist . We need more women in leadership, and a JD is a great tool to make that happen. I encourage everyone to share their story so that your presence can be known and others can seek your guidance. Women have made great strides within the legal profession, let’s continue to thrive and lift others up as we go.