For Class of 2014 alumna Korina Sanchez, her law school experience was in large part shaped by her passion for her Mexican heritage.
"Hispanic people make up over 18% of the US population, but they are underrepresented in so many professions. While I was in law school, I was the vice president of LLSA and am still an active LLSA alumna," she said.
Many of her favorite law school memories involved time spent with classmates outside of the classroom, especially at LLSA-sponsored events.
"A really fun memory was a LLSA potluck I helped coordinate as LLSA vice president and Dean Smith hitting a pinata in the pavillion," she said.
Nowadays, Korina continues to prioritize staying connected to and giving back to her community. She served on the board of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois for 3 years and is the current president of Latinos Progresando, a nonprofit organization that provides immigration legal services and resources to the Hispanic community in and around Chicago.
Korina currently works in-house for her family’s restaurant group, Third Coast Hospitality, and she is also senior counsel at a smaller business law firm, Tristan & Cervantes. She spends her days balancing several different avenues of work (in-house legal, in-house operational, client legal) and prioritizing. She appreciates that COVID-19 has normalized working from home, but she also acknowledges that it has presented challenges in terms of team work and creative strategizing with her colleagues.
Nearly 7 years out of law school, Korina is content in her career, even though it took some time for her to find the right path.
"Out of law school I worked for a small firm specializing in medical malpractice defense, but after a couple years there, I realized that I wanted to work with businesses and practice corporate law, so I moved to another firm to practice in their transactional group for a couple years before finally moving into my in-house position. I also work at Tristan & Cervantes as senior counsel to continue to grow my legal skills and keep connected to the law firm community," she said.
Based on her own experience, she advised current students to keep an open mind about their careers.
"You should always be actively networking and meeting people in all types of fields. You never know what a connection will unfold to. Not only can this help get you a job, but it will make you a more successful attorney at your firm or place of work. I would also say that you shouldn’t be afraid to practice in different areas of law or change your mind or career path early on to figure out what you like to do," she said.
In her student days, Korina and a friend used to frequent Seven Saints in downtown Champaign, and she even stopped there for lunch on a recent (pre-COVID) visit to Dean Miarecki's Fundamentals of Legal Practice class. If Korina wasn't a lawyer, she said she would probably be taking on a more entrepreneurial role in the restaurant industry, or maybe even doing something with food, as she loves to cook.
Perhaps we'll see yet another successful avenue pursued as Korina continues to forge her career? In any case, we look forward to following along on her journey.