A Non-Lawtina In The Legal Field, A Different View

As a website dedicated to all views of the spectrum, we love receiving different perspectives of the legal-field and unique stories to best inform our community of their options, different forms of empowerment and career prospects. Personally, I was surprised to get this story in my email, and I am grateful to Dainelis Rodriguez for sharing her story and why she is a proud paralegal, Latina, and soon-to-be Master's Degree graduate aiming for her PhD. 

"I never chose the legal field; the legal field chose me on October 07, 2017 at 10:00 p.m. My father was immersed in a legal issue, driving under the influence (DUI), and was incarcerated. I was angry at the system and my father because without a doubt he was at-fault, yet there were certain aspects of the case that made me question the criminal system. This moment sparked a hunger in me to learn about our country’s criminal law and its procedures.  

            I immigrated to the United States when I was four years old from Isla de la Juventud, Cuba. I remember my parents always telling me, “niña, tienes que hacerte alguien en este país y tener una carrera (honey, you have to be someone in this country and have a career).”  Since I was young, I focused on becoming a doctor, particularly a neurosurgeon. I have always been fascinated with the brain and how it functions. My journey to becoming a neurosurgeon took a different turn when I entered college and changed my major three times. I eventually settled and graduated with my Bachelor of Science in communication. Yes, I know my parents were proud but extremely shocked because how do you explain to your Latino parents what kind of career communication is?

            I told them that I wanted to write stories of people who were ignored in the media.  I wanted to create content that touched people on an emotional level and to let them know that they are not alone. I wanted to help people integrate into society successfully. I wanted to become an advocate or spokesperson for people through writing.  

            Ever since I could remember, I have always enjoyed helping people. I stumbled upon a meme a few months back that stated how immigrant children, who came here young, acted as their parents’ “translators:. This cannot be more accurate. I always remember interpreting for my parents at doctors’ offices or at school meetings. Interpreting at that time, was distressing. It continues to be for me, because even though I am bilingual, I cannot really translate the entire English dictionary to Spanish. Nonetheless, the feeling of gratification when I go the extra mile to help anyone that struggles with a language barrier is priceless.

            So, this brings me to the legal field. It is not that I do not want to become an attorney, because I know I can. I believe that if you set out to do something, you can achieve it. I have nothing but the upmost respect for attorneys, especially the ones who are immigrants. I chose to not go to law school because it does not feel right. It is hard to explain, but being an attorney is not my calling. I want to work in the legal field as a paralegal or as an administrator in communications department. These two career paths speak to me and work together with my goals.

            My goals after completing my graduate degree in criminal justice are to work for the Innocence Project in their communication department advocating for the wrongfully convicted or become a paralegal for them or for the Department of Juvenile Justice.  I like to think that paralegal or administrator positions are more than the stigmatized “assistant positions”. I see these positions as essential pieces that complete the legal field puzzle in administering justice.

            I currently work for a local law firm in Jacksonville, Florida as a legal assistant and interpreter. I am going on my two-year mark coming this October and in combination with my education have acquired and applied extensive amounts of knowledge for my career goals. Within my education and current employment, I have established great networking relationships with professors and professionals in the legal field that can assure my education, work ethic and character. I know that the path that I am taking is the right one that will make me a successful and proud Latina in the legal field. More importantly, I will be someone in this country with a career just as my parents had advised. Not just anyone, but an immigrant with two degrees and her upcoming PhD."