CLA members are sharing how they became successful lawyers, despite the obstacles they faced, to inspire young people from a variety of backgrounds to consider legal careers.
The Diverse Voices of the Legal Profession project’s initial participants are Monique D. Jewett-Brewster, co-chair of CLA’s Diversity Outreach Advisory Committee; Somita Basu, co-chair of CLA’s Diversity Outreach Advisory Committee and vice-chair of CLA’s Solo and Small Firm Section; and Magdalena Bordeaux, a member of CLA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and the Business Law Section Executive Committee. More videos are on the way.
Jewett-Brewster: Perseverance Paid Off
Jewett-Brewster shares her 20-year journey as a business and commercial bankruptcy lawyer and now partner at Hopkins & Carley in San Jose. Raised by a single mother, Jewett-Brewster faced financial hardship. In college, a professor helped her find work to pay tuition and she held as many as three jobs at a time to earn a bachelor’s in political science.
“Certainly my tenacity and the perseverance I had in insisting on getting my education makes me persevere in working to help solve my client’s problems,” she said.
Basu: Take Your Own Path
Basu, an immigrant, talks about how she pursued a second career in the law. While volunteering at a legal aid clinic, she met a Black woman who would become her future law partner at the small estate planning firm NortonBasu in Santa Clara. Her advice to young people:
“Your path is your own. You don’t need to follow in anybody’s footsteps,” she said. “It’s not an easy road but it can be very fulfilling. Stay strong and good luck in your journey.”
Bordeaux: Inspired to Public Service
From the time she was 18-months-old, Bordeaux was raised by a single mother. Her mom often talked fondly about the lawyer who helped her escape an abusive marriage.
“The way she looked when she described this attorney, I knew at that moment I wanted to be an attorney,” Bordeaux said.
With no one in her family or friend circle to guide her, Bordeaux reached out to find mentors along her path to becoming a consumer bankruptcy lawyer at Public Counsel in Los Angeles.
The project was spearheaded by CLA’s Diversity Outreach Advisory Committee, along with the Criminal Law Section.
To learn more about the diverse lawyer video project or participating as a speaker, please reach out to Lauren Oakley, CLA Initiatives Coordinator.
Participating speakers will be provided a brief script with four or five questions to answer along with some general and technical instruction. Each video is intended to be short, about five minutes or so, and will be recorded using ubiquitous tools like smartphones and/or Zoom by the speaker, resulting in a “self-interview.” The recordings will then be edited by CLA staff and made available on CLA’s YouTube channel. These finished videos will be available for various CLA and Section diversity, outreach, and civic engagement efforts!