When Laura Garcia started at Rutgers Law School, she did as much as she could to gain the practical experience it takes to be a good attorney.
One of her first legal experiences was as a summer intern at Kids in Need of Defense, where she represented underprivileged immigration clients, including a 14-year-old boy from Central America who was seeking asylum. She interviewed him and his family about his experiences, developed her own legal arguments, wrote a letter brief in support of his application for asylum, and found out later that he ultimately was granted asylum.
Laura also worked as a Summer Associate for McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, where she polished her legal research and writing and gained valuable litigation training. After graduation, Garcia will be clerking in the New Jersey Appellate Division for Judge Francis J. Vernoia and when her clerkship is over, she’ll start working as an associate for McElroy Deutsch.
At Rutgers, Laura was a student of the Rutgers Criminal & Youth Justice Clinic and a member of the Moot Court Board. She was one of the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition Team members who advanced to the national competition in Chicago after winning regionals. Then she flew back to New Jersey and competed in the first-ever Judge Leonard I. Garth Competition before a panel that included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
“It was one of the most fulfilling learning experiences of my life,” she said. “I was able to walk away from it feeling confident in my abilities and ready to take on whatever comes my way.”
She said participating in moot court helped her learn to think on her feet and develop her own style of arguing in court, something she plans to use in her career as a litigator someday. Garcia, who emigrated with her family from Cuba as a small child, served as the Co-President of the Association of Latin American Law Students. She also found time to serve as the Executive Editor of the Law Review for the Newark campus.
She credited Clinical Professor Laura Cohen with teaching her several valuable skills, including trial practice, effective motion practice, and managing her own caseload, which she said helped her gain confidence in the courtroom.
Garcia said she chose Rutgers Law School because she knew she would “get a well-rounded education in a close-knit community” at a school that valued community involvement. Community participation has always been important to her, she said, from helping the homeless in high school to mentoring younger students. She said she got to recharge her batteries away from her schoolwork by participating in her local community choir. As an attorney, she plans to continue giving back to the community.
She thanked her family and fiancée for their unwavering support and had this advice for incoming law students, “Do your best and don’t let any of the first-year’s inevitable hurdles discourage you. Keep pushing forward.”
Garcia said she recently found her diary from age 9 where she had written that she wanted to be a lawyer one day. “I liked the idea of helping people fight the good fight,” she said.
It looks like her dream is finally coming true.