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MLaw grad enjoys challenges of litigation

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

After graduating with honors in history from University of California, Berkeley, Luis Gomez was unsure about future career steps. Although involved in an undergraduate pre-law group during his senior year, he was ambivalent about a career in law, mostly because he lacked exposure to this field – and instead leaned heavily toward a career as a history teacher. 

To demystify and explore the legal profession, he spent three years as lead litigation paralegal at Steel Zandi, a litigation law firm in Los Angeles specializing in employment and personal injury law. He had found his niche.

“I knew I had a passion for helping people and entities resolve complex issues and disputes,” he says. “I enjoy the role of problem solver because of the distinct challenges it presents. I derived tremendous enjoyment from the research and strategizing involved in every case.”    

Gomez headed to the University of Michigan Law School where he appreciated the clinical law program. “It’s one thing to learn the law in a classroom, and another to meet a clinic client who is placing all of their trust in you to help them resolve an issue that is significant in their lives,” he says.   

Interning at the Michigan Innocence Clinic, he helped draft an Application for Leave to Appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, which ultimately led to the exoneration of a client a year later. “This particular client had served nearly a decade in prison for a murder he didn’t commit – I’m incredibly proud of my involvement in his case,” he says. 

In his 2L year, an internship at the Civil and Criminal Litigation Clinic allowed Gomez to appear in open court on behalf of clients, many of them tenants fighting evictions. The experience further solidified his interest in litigation. “I realized I enjoyed going to court to argue points of law in an effort to obtain a favorable ruling for my clients,” he says.   

During a judicial externship with Justice Madeleine Flier of the California Court of Appeals he reviewed appellate briefs, examined trial court records, conducted legal research, and drafted memoranda; observed appellate oral argument sessions and trial court proceedings; and attended legal writing and judicial decision-making seminars put on by justices and judicial attorneys. He received extensive training in legal writing, especially in the art of judicial opinion writing, and also got a close look at the judicial decision-making process. 

“As an extern, I directly took part in the opinion-writing process,” he says. “After several months of working as a litigation attorney, I now see the value of this experience.   

Service as an Associate Editor of the Michigan Journal of Race and Law showed him how much time and effort goes into a publication of this kind.  “It gave me a newfound respect for such endeavors,” he says.    

He spent two years on the board of the Latino Law Students Association.. “I loved it,” he says. “It provided me with a platform to reach out to prospective Latino law students to encourage them to attend U-M.  As a 2L and 3L, I mentored newly arrived 1Ls as they navigated their first-year curriculum.  More importantly, I made a lot of life-long friendships and connections through LLSA.” 

The 2015 MLaw graduate now works at Garcia Law Group PLLC in Detroit, a law firm that represents various institutional clients against civil suits. 

“The great thing about this kind of work is that it lands us in court quite often,” he says. “And although I love that work, I’ve also grown to enjoy our niche practice where we provide legal services to members of the Latino community in Detroit – anything from traffic violations and felony charges, to registering an LLC. 

“I find this work to be incredibly rewarding because of the access I’m able to provide members of the Latino community, many of whom would not seek the services of an attorney because of the language barrier.” 

Only a few months after receiving his license, Gomez had the opportunity to second-chair his first trial in a medical malpractice suit, defended on behalf of the firm’s client. “The long hours leading up to and during the trial were well worth it as we managed to obtain a no cause verdict,” he says.

A member of the Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan (HBAM), Gomez has become increasingly involved in organizing professional networking events for Latino professionals in the greater Detroit area, through Garcia Law. 

In his leisure time, the Ann Arbor resident enjoys reading, weight training and running, and watching his favorite shows on Netflix.

A native of Hawthorne, Calif., Gomez is the first person in his family to graduate from college and graduate school. His father emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba and his mother from Mexico, both at a very young age.  “My grandparents on both sides left their respective homelands with dreams of finding a better life for their families and future generations,” he says. “I’m the proud inheritor of those dreams, and I’ve never taken lightly the sacrifices my grandparents and parents made to that end.”   
 

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