Brief Background: Before law school, I was an undergraduate Biology student and I thought I wanted to be in the medical field. After having some hands-on experience, I quickly learned that it was not for me and I randomly took a class that I thought would be interesting called, “Gay Rights and the Law.” The class made me realize how the law shapes the world as we know it and I slowly figured out that I wanted to go to law school. My goal is to be a proud and loud lesbian Latinx woman attorney and I hope to share my experiences, identities and values within the field in order to encourage others.
My Top Three Activities:
I am a huge fan of all the affinity student organizations we have on campus because it really gives a space to communities that are often overlooked or left out in law school. I’m a member of several and also have friends in other groups and we support each other by attending one another’s events and learning about how our cultural experiences are shaped into our views about the law. ALSO VOLUNTEERING! Do it, it’s such a healthy and uplifting activity to do!
Favorite Law Class:
Contracts with Professor Doug Newell. If you are lucky enough have him as your professor, you get the opportunity to experience a professor who is humorous and witty with the material in a way that makes classes interesting. You get to cover some unique cases in Contracts and quickly discover that the devil is in the details and the facts of every case truly matters.
Why Law School?
I came here because I am very interested in the way law forms a very intricate yet invisible system that governs our day to day experiences. I want to understand the system to help others who don’t.
I chose Lewis and Clark because of the collegial atmosphere here and the amount of resources that the community tries to provide for students. I don’t personally thrive well in super cutthroat competitive environments, and law school already being challenging enough, I wanted to have a school that I felt supports me and really cares about my progress.
Advice on How to Choose A Law School:
Law school is hard in many ways that you do not expect. Try to identify your long-term priorities and make sure that the law school you pick can best suit that need. Because once you’re in law school, you can quickly get wrapped up in the moment of it all and forget about those really important things, whether it’s family, self-care, specific career goals, etc.
Hardest Thing About Adjusting to Law School:
For me, it was the culture shock of the lack of diversity in comparison to the previous places I have lived in. You quickly learn that there is a great need for student organizations and I really think without these affinity groups I would feel isolated and confused. Also going through law school with my partner by my side has been super weird for both of us! But despite some tough times of stress and often not having time for ourselves, it has strengthened our relationship in a very unique way.
My Favorite Spots in Portland:
- Sizzle Pie - the best garlic knots in town and do yourself a service by getting them with the ranch sauce PLEASE.
- Any of the McMenamins attractions.
- Deadstock Coffee - a coffee shop inspired by sneakers.
- The lavender and tulip fields in spring.
- Eb & Bean - very underrated ice cream.
- Kati Thai - best Thai place in town
- Antique Alley - very dusty but very cool actual antiques.
One comment I really want to share is to talk to the upper division students. You can do this by joining student orgs and bars or going to OLIO if you identify as a minority (PLEASE do OLIO, it’s so fun!). I had a lot of upper division students who were willing to have coffee with me or attend networking events with me and they would introduce me to others… or walk me through creating outlines! If you ever see me on campus, by that time I’ll be an upper division and you can totally come to me for help or questions because I really want to pay that kindness forward.
CJ Fuenzalida, she/her/hers
3L, full-time, day program
UC Santa Cruz
Litigation, Immigration, Intellectual Property