Maripau Paz ’24

 

“Navigating the citizenship application process as an undocumented immigrant and the incorporation barriers of my small business, I realized that the law, for many, is an accessibility issue. I have witnessed this theme in every area of law I have worked in, including various public interest outlets, but also notably in my most recent work in a corporate firm with start-up clients. Having benefited from pro bono and free legal aid my entire childhood, I am really grateful to finally be at a point in my career when I can give back.

Access to a legal education, regardless of your background, is an immense privilege. I truly believe that if you are in a position where you are capable of giving back to others, or making the law more accessible, it is your responsibility to. 

Last semester, I was a part of the Startup Law Initiative (SLI). In this Student Led Project, Berkeley Law students team up with a small business owner and work together to legally incorporate their business free of charge. As someone who started my own company in the past, I love being a part of SLI because I have witnessed the power of small businesses. I think this is an incredible way to give back to the community and enable them with legal resources that are oftentimes inaccessible! 

This semester, I joined my second SLP, the East Bay Dreamer’s Project. East Bay Dreamers Project partners with the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) in providing immigration legal services to support and empower Bay Area undocumented community members. I joined EBDP because I have been in the shoes of our clients, and I recognize the importance of being compassionate and treating every client as the individual they are. I would have loved to have benefited from this SLP, and that motivates me to give back now that I have the privilege to.

Berkeley Law is one of the only schools that lets 1L’s engage in such important work right at the beginning of our legal education, and that is absolutely something to take advantage of! It is an incredible experience to develop skills working directly with clients that you do not get from the standard 1L curriculum. Not only does it teach you things you won’t learn in the classroom, it makes you a better lawyer. Further, with law being such a difficult field to navigate and access, it is a privilege to be able to do this work.”

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