In a field dominated by white men, many female professionals in the legal field have to go “above and beyond” to get equal recognition, according to a 2018 study by the American Bar Association. The same data reported that 58% of women attorneys of color said they had been mistaken for administrative staff or janitors in their place of work.
These disparities echo what student organization Minority Women Pursuing Law wants to change in the legal field. According to the organization’s website, their work toward representation, legal experience and a connected community is a support system for women of color before, during and after law school.
“(Minority Women Pursuing Law) is a space for minority women to really talk about issues they are going through because it is definitely not the same experience men are going through in the legal field,” said Victoria Brandao, sustainability studies sophomore.
Brandao, the group’s historian, said that as more students and the organization grows larger, former members represent the benefits of Minority Women Pursuing Law. The Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones and other notable former members of the group have established a legacy of women of color in law and justice, and their journeys began in this organization.
Minority Women Pursuing Law is not all work, however. The organization aims to foster lifelong relationships between the members, from hosting group socials and speaker engagements to touring law schools and courthouses. Jennifer Landeros, corporate communications junior and vice president said the organization still likes to have fun while preparing for law school.
“It’s important to find a balance, as being a pre-law student can be stressful,” Landeros said. “We have socials to get us out of the rut that (students) can easily fall into, and we tour schools all over Texas, so they turn into fun little road trips.”
Jacqueline Giang, government junior and treasurer, said the organization provides unique opportunities for its members. It brings workshops and mentorships to connect students with a community of women that have similar interests in law and law school. Giang said Minority Women Pursuing Law extends support in any way it can because applying to law school and taking the LSAT test is expensive.
“We give out scholarships and networking connections by bringing various legal professionals to our members,” Giang said. “Visiting law firms and gaining these relationships really does help our members in the long run.”
Brandao said one of the large end goals for the organization is to create empowerment and advocacy for minority women in law because many undergraduate students can be hesitant to pursue law in the first place.
“A lot of times, first-generation students and minority students have never been in an environment where they can openly express their desire to pursue law,” Brandao said. “It is important to provide these opportunities that otherwise would not have been presented to them before.”
As a first-generation college student and minority woman, Landeros said she experiences imposter syndrome quite often. She said being surrounded by people in the organization that have endured similar experiences the journey more manageable.
“In an organization like (Minority Women Pursuing Law), I am proving my own worth — that I belong next to the men and nonminorities, in the classroom and everywhere else,” Landeros said.