Growing up as the son of immigrants and a DACA recipient, Juan Carlos Estrada RLAW ’21 understands firsthand the injustices and harsh working conditions that immigrants have endured in the United States. Estrada, a graduate of the University of Texas in San Antonio, was inspired to go to law school, in part to help the Latinx community.
“Today, the Latino population is one of the fastest-growing and youngest ethnic groups in the country, but we continue to be disproportionately disadvantaged and underrepresented,” he wrote in his application.
While at Rutgers Law School in Newark, he has served as co-president of the Association for Latin American Law Students, a member of the Moot Court Board and the Business Law Journal, and worked in the Community and Transactional Lawyering Clinic.
Estrada was recently chosen for a prestigious Fried Frank Civil Rights Fellowship and will work with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). As part of the competitive fellowship, Estrada will work for two years with international law firm Fried Frank in New York City and another two years in MALDEF’s Los Angeles headquarters.
“I feel honored to have been selected for this prestigious fellowship,” he said. “I am excited for the opportunity to effect social change in the Latinx community so early in my career.”
Each year, Fried Frank selects one fellow for two alternating opportunities, one with MALDEF, and one with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. In its application, the firm explains, “The Fried Frank Civil Rights Fellowship was created to bridge the worlds of private law firm litigation and public service law by joining with two of the country's leading civil rights advocacy organizations. . . This way, we are contributing our time, people and resources to today’s toughest issues: civil rights, criminal justice, education, housing, voting rights, immigrants’ rights and political access.”
During his first two years, Estrada will be a litigation associate at Fried Frank , a large Wall Street law firm, working on complex high-stakes litigation in addition to pro bono matters. Once his two years at the firm are completed, Estrada will work as a staff attorney at MALDEF, bringing forth impact litigation to advance the interest of Latinos and the constitutional rights of all Americans.
“As a Dreamer from rural Texas, I am the right choice for the Fried Frank Civil Rights Fellowship because my background, passion, and experiences are representative of the goals and mission of the fellowship,” Estrada wrote in his application. “My story is one of perseverance, grit and access.”