Editor’s note: This article, though anecdotal in narrative, is based on an in-depth study of Latino professionals in Washington state involving interviews and detailed surveys of personal histories from a scientific sample of 102 Latino lawyers. Washington’s Latino population closely resembles that of the greater U.S., and includes immigrant populations from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and virtually every country of Hispanic culture. The study is detailed in book length in Everyday Injustice: Latino Professionals and Racism by Maria Chávez.
There are dozens of different reasons why someone would choose to go to law school and become an attorney. Some may want to go into politics or trial work. Others may want to work for social justice, a nonprofit or a cause they are passionate about, such as the environment. Some view it, like many others, as a stylish path to making money. But many want a challenging profession with the rewards that can bring, both personally and financially. Some are influenced by parents or by lawyers they have known, or even by an experience they have had with the law. The judiciary or corporate practice or public defense or child protection advocacy—all the varied uses of a law degree beckon thousands of people each year to apply for law school to eventually become attorneys. For some, however, the motivation that drives them to become attorneys is a bit different, motivated by a sense of feeling they have experienced wrongs in their lives. For many Latinos, the decision to become a lawyer can be very personal.