"Remembering Why You Started" Lawtina Guest Writer, Dominique Boubion.
My name is Dominique Boubion and I am a third-year law student at Chapman University Fowler School of Law.
As someone with a French first and last name, learned Spanish the way most people do (high school Spanish class), and who is frequently mistaken for being Persian, Italian, or Greek, it is gratifying to be recognized as Latina. My ethnicity, heritage and culture has influenced every life decision: attending school for journalism, the decision to become an attorney, and my pursuits in law school.
As a second Mexican-American, my identity is inextricably linked to my values and ideology. My father was born and raised in Nogales, a small town in Arizona that borders Mexico. My parents met in Nogales when they were in middle school. After high school, they moved to California, where they eventually married and started a family. Every July, on my grandmother’s birthday, my family and extended family, return to Nogales, to the house that my dad and his six siblings were raised.
The United States-Mexico border scales the hillsides in Nogales, and a portion of it is clearly visible from my grandmother’s porch. It seems that the concept of borders, nationality, and race are engrained in us well before we can remember learning it, but I can remember the first time that my dad pointed out the border from my grandmother’s porch in Nogales. The curiosity that my life is so impacted by something so seemingly arbitrary—that I was born on this side of the wall—stayed with me, and has largely formed my ideology.
When I decided to attend law school, I was motivated to disrupt the unjust “system” of power and privilege and represent people that experienced the struggles around power and privilege every day because they were born or raised on the wrong side of the barriers to medical, economic, educational, and social opportunities, or heavy-handed policing.
Law school is exhilarating, but it can be dizzying. Lifelong friendships are forged in the very the first year of law school, but it can still be isolating. When it is dizzying and isolating, it is important to protect your purpose and preserve your identity under that pressure.
In my first year, I plunged head first. I tried out for the competition teams, co-founded the Chapman University Chapter for the National Lawyers Guild, became a student ambassador for Chapman, and the Chair of the Diversity & Social Justice Forum. There were moments that I questioned whether I should have made it onto a competition team, or if I was capable of leading a team of students to host a successful symposium.
At the same time, I found myself desiring the highly coveted OCI positions with firms that I didn’t know existed prior to law school, but for a brief moment seemed to be the reason to go to law school. I started to question whether a career pursuing social justice was the right decision. Would I make enough money? Would I become jaded? Would my career isolate me from my friends or family?
The questions subsisted until I returned to my grandmother’s house in Nogales. Sitting on her porch, I was taken in by the sight of the border and the peculiar reality that it represents. At the same time, I was re-oriented and stimulated by the sight of it.
When I returned home, if I visualized my grandmother’s porch and the border, I could remember what I was doing, why I was doing it, and who I was doing it for.
I continued to do that until I started working at Carrillo Law Firm, where I had the opportunity to sit in the same room with the very people that I went to law school hoping to represent, and I walked through the door everyday with a sense that I was doing what I had set out to do.