One of the best things about the U of C's small community is that not only do students interact and collaborate on a regular basis but so do many of the more than 60 student organizations at the Law School. Today's lunchtime event was an example of one such event. Chris Baeza ('09), one of the student leaders of LLSA, provides us with a recap of the event:
Knowing that many of the students interested in serving the public good, Latino/a Law Students Association and Law Women's Caucus teamed up to bring Anita Alvarez to the Law School for a lunchtime event. Ms. Alvarez, Chief Deputy in the State's Attorney's Office, is running for Cook County State's Attorney. The event was very well attended, highlighting the interest U of C students have in public affairs. Ms. Alvarez, the only woman and Hispanic to run for the office, shared stories about her experience in the public sector and on the campaign trail. She also shared some insights into the fears she had going into public work, as well as the numerous benefits that come from serving your community. While the financial gains in the private sector are appealing, Ms. Alvarez said, "there are great opportunities to give back."
Ms. Alvarez also spoke to the importance of having minority and female lawyers in public service. Being only one of two Latinas in her law school class, she recalled how difficult it was starting out as an Assistant State's Attorney. What kept her going was the fact that "you can always do better," and that there is "always room for change."
What left the greatest impression on me was how engaged and interested my peers were in what Ms. Alvarez had to say. Hearing the questions they asked -- some wondering her thoughts on how to improve the judicial process in Cook County, others asking for her tips on how to balance life and career -- made me realize that reason why students come to U of C go far beyond just getting a job. For many it is the passion to use their law degree to make their community better. Ms. Alvarez put into words the very thing that seems to drive many of the students at the Law School to want to give back to the public good: an aspiration to "hear the community's voices and concerns" and "to be the voice for victims in courts." You can't put a dollar amount on the value of a passion to change the world for the better.
The Law School is committed to supporting our current students and graduates who want to pursue careers in the public sector through such programs as the 1L Summer Public Interest Loan Program and the Hormel Public Interest Program.