Scholarship Awardee Update - Teresa Gutierrez
By Carmela Pagay
Teresa Gutierrez received a WLALA scholarship for the 2013-2014 school year while studying at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. WLALA’s generous scholarship gave Teresa the freedom, as a law student, to develop her interest areas and interact with lawyers in the private and public bars. After receiving her WLALA scholarship, Teresa went on to complete a judicial externship for Judge Richard A. Paez at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, an externship at the Long Beach Branch Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and she also gained experience at law firms that specialized in civil and criminal law. Teresa was simultaneously a student leader at Loyola. Without her WLALA scholarship, Teresa may have been forced to forego unique learning experiences for less enriching paid opportunities.
Teresa continued her commitment to issues affecting women and children after law school. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Los Angeles hired Teresa as a Program Manager after she completed the February 2015 California Bar Exam. KIND then hired Teresa as a Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney (PBCA) shortly after receiving notice that she was successful with the bar examination.
As a KIND PBCA, Teresa presently manages a caseload of Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) matters. Teresa’s SIJS cases require her involvement with state courts because the federal government requires findings at the state court level for a child to apply for SIJS before the federal agency. Teresa greatly enjoys interacting with her child clients because they are resilient and most have survived abuse, abandonment, neglect, and/or other traumas. Teresa also helps refugee children secure representation through pro bono attorneys outside of KIND, and she organizes and manages trainings, intake clinics, and other pro bono and mentoring efforts on KIND’s behalf.
Teresa remains grateful for WLALA’s investment in her through the scholarship and now hopes to get more involved with WLALA to assist other legal scholars achieve their goals.