Brief Background: I’m a homeschooled Latino farm boy and a native Oregonian. I earned my Master’s in Music as a choral conductor when I was 23 and I still sing professionally around Portland. Law school originally represented a huge career shift for me, but it’s gradually becoming clear that I am able to enjoy both careers.
During 2017-2018, I will be one of the Orientation Directors, a LexisNexis student representative, an officer with the Latino Law Society, and a Teaching Fellow, so there is very little chance that you won’t meet me, eventually.
1. My top three extracurricular activities:
(1) I am a founding member of Humanis, a professional vocal ensemble dedicated to peace and social justice, either directly or in collaboration with various charities. I dedicate a lot of time to this cause because I believe that change forged by art is just as important–if not more so–as change forged by the law.
(2) I am the marketing director for the Latino Law Society, and I highly recommend that all students get involved with similar student groups. Law school is all about community, and the ones in which you choose to be involved can have a huge impact on the trajectory of your career (and general fulfillment in life).
2. Favorite class at Lewis & Clark
It’s definitely Property Law, by far. It has meaningful applications and encourages deeper discourse about institutionalized discrimination.
3. What made you decide to go to law school?
At first, I pursued law school out of curiosity. I already had a whole career in music and education, but I wanted to be able to help people in other ways. Law was something that everyone always told me I would enjoy, so I started reading some of the texts and instantly fell in love. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m addicted to learning and seem to be more at home in the classroom than anywhere else.
4. Why did you choose to attend Lewis & Clark?
I love the Northwest; I was born and raised here and have no intention of leaving. I didn’t even apply anywhere else because I knew exactly what I wanted and was committed to making it happen.
5. Advice for deciding which law school to attend
Fun doesn’t die in law school, so don’t get tunnel vision about ranking systems or name recognition. There are a lot of things you can do to stand out no matter where you go, so go somewhere where you’ll be happy.
6. What was the hardest thing about adjusting to law school?
My previous education centered on a lot of memorization and recitation…those skills might help in law school, but developing them isn’t necessarily the objective; the objective in law school is to enhance the way you think and reason. You’ll hear this a lot during your first few weeks, but you probably won’t really know what it means until after the first semester exams.
7. Ben’s Favorite Places In and Around Portland
a. Go to the beach (Lincoln City), go to Kylo’s, and order the basil martini.
b. You could pick any Columbia Gorge hike at random and have an awesome time.
c. I am moderately introverted, so I’m deliberately not going to tell you my favorite restaurants or secret spots because…you know…those are my spots. You can always feel free to ask me in person, though!
8. Other stories, comments, or experiences you would like to share?
Everyone learns differently and everyone walks into the rooms with a different skill set. To succeed in law school, find a way to enhance your existing strengths and then apply them to the task at hand. It’s ok if it takes a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Above all, practice kindness towards yourself and others.