Going to law school or becoming a lawyer remains a challenge for women -- they make up less than 40% of attorneys, while Latinas make up only 2% of that.
To combat that statistic, St. Mary’s hosted the first ever Lawtina Network Summit, which is an effort for Latinas to support each other through professional development.
Many first-generation law students, like Analisa Casanova-Smith, said it’s challenging when navigating difficult school work or the financial burden.
“It’s saying to yourself like, you’re not good enough or maybe I’m not smart enough and really breaking down those barriers within your own mind because you don’t want to be the one holding yourself back,” Casanova-Smith said.
Finding a group of women to relate to changed the game for incoming law student Yessy Anorve-Basoria.
She said the summit was eye-opening.
“I have definitely been emotional in some parts and just understanding our background, knowing that I’m not alone and knowing that, you know, I am making great connections here,” Anorve-Basoria said.
Organizer Brianna Chapa said nearly 150 women attended and she hopes the connections made today will carry Latinas through their careers.
“Latinas have a network to fall back upon and a network to lean on, and most importantly, a network to help uplift and inspire them to continue going within the profession,” Chapa said.
Attorney Paulina Vera said her biggest piece of advice for Latinas in their law career is to stay true to themselves.
“Stay genuine. It can be hard to do that in law school. It can be hard to do that in the legal profession. But your perspective is so needed and brings so much value to the profession. So please stay true to yourself,” Vera said.
The organizer said she hopes to provide scholarships next year to help women pay to take their Barr exam.
It’s unclear when the next summit will be, but St. Mary’s has already agreed to host the next one.