November 21, 2019 Articles

JIOP Alumni Spotlight: Marcos A. Tapia

A program alum shares how JIOP impacted his legal career development, from advocating for clients to leadership in Arizona’s Hispanic bar association.

By Kristen H. Chang

Marcos A. Tapia is a civil litigation and real estate litigation associate at Tiffany & Bosco P.A. Marcos focuses his practice on counseling clients about commercial, business dispute, real estate, insurance, contract, and tort litigation matters. An active member and leader in the Arizona legal community, Marcos served on the Board of Directors of Los Abogados (the Hispanic bar association of Arizona), serves as a deputy regional president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, and is a member of Class 39 of the Valley Leadership Institute. Most recently, he was elected to serve as president of Los Abogados.

Through JIOP, Marcos had the honor of serving as a judicial intern to the Honorable Susan R. Bolton at the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Subsequently, he served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Mary H. Murguia at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Please tell us about yourself and what made you decide to pursue a legal career.

I was born in Mexico, and my family and I moved to California when I was a child—first to Fresno, then to San Diego. Growing up, I learned English and began translating for my parents, who had limited English abilities. They are both very hard working individuals, and they taught me the importance of diligence and determination. When they started their own business, I used my English abilities to help them obtain a business license, work with vendors, and perform other activities. Because of these experiences, I developed an affinity for advocating for others and sought out opportunities to represent my family and community. When considering what I wanted to do when I grew up, representing others came naturally to me, so I began considering law school. I studied economics and finance during my undergraduate studies because I enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of business. Afterward, I graduated from law school, becoming a commercial litigator who handles a variety issues such as contract breaches and real estate matters.

How did you hear of JIOP, and why did you decide to apply and participate in it?

My contracts law professor mentioned the opportunity to me. During my time as a student, I developed a close relationship with this particular professor, receiving advice and mentoring from him. I decided to complete the application because I thought that it would be a worthwhile experience working with a judge. Not only did it turn out to be meaningful, but JIOP impacted the trajectory of my career because of the people I met and the lessons that I learned.

Please describe your JIOP experience.

Through JIOP, I interviewed and ultimately interned with Judge Susan Bolton at the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Even prior to interning with Judge Bolton, I followed the lawsuit related to the “Show Me Your Papers” law in Arizona, S.B. 1070. Judge Bolton presided over the case, so I admired her long before I actually met her. After meeting her and working with her as a judicial intern, my respect for her continued growing. Judge Bolton showed me that there is always more to learn and the humility in taking that approach. For myself, the learning included making significant improvements to my writing skills. In fact, I felt that JIOP contributed much more to my legal writing skills than my legal research and writing class in law school. Judge Bolton also got me involved in her work quickly, giving me opportunities to do the work that actual clerks perform. I even participated in a mock oral argument in a case a week before the actual attorneys argued the case in court. Aside from the educational and practical aspects of my experience, I also made connections with other clerks who formed an integral part of my professional and personal network. For example, I became good friends with the supervising law clerk, and I have the honor of serving as one of the groomsmen in his wedding next year.

What was your best memory of your time in JIOP?

I had many great memories from my time as a judicial intern, but the active and educational atmosphere of Judge Bolton’s chambers tops my list. Everyone made me feel as though I was truly a part of the court and a part of a family within chambers. The experience was very practical and hands-on, with actual and consequential results that impacted lives. I enjoyed it so much that, rather than staying for the minimally required period, I interned for 13 weeks. Even now, I keep in touch with people I met during my time as a judicial intern.

Since law school and JIOP, how do you participate in the legal community?

I am active at all levels of the legal community, especially through Los Abogados. Some of the mentors that I developed during my JIOP experience were also members of the Hispanic Bar. After becoming a student member, I gained the confidence to run for office and became president of my law school’s Latino Law Society. As president, I had a non-voting seat on the Board of Directors of Los Abogados, allowing me to increase my involvement in the organization. From there, I continued on, becoming president of Los Abogados most recently. I hope to use the skills and connections that I developed in JIOP and elsewhere to improve the organization and develop the legal community. I feel that I received so much, so I hope to contribute more as I hone my skills, develop my practice, and branch out into other arenas.

How did participating in JIOP influence your career?

Without JIOP, I would not be where I am today. Because of my internship through JIOP, I received an externship with Judge Mary Murguia at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The writing sample I prepared during my JIOP experience led to my externship for Judge Murguia, and that externship made me a competitive candidate for a summer associate position, opening doors that I would not have otherwise known or been able to enter. When I started out as a young attorney, JIOP opened doors for me to reach out to mentors, develop connections, and lean into my career. Now I would like to use those opportunities given to me to help other people achieve, both in my leadership capacity within the organizations that I participate in and in the community at large.

How would you describe JIOP’s goal to others?

The goal of JIOP is to help law students, especially those who would not otherwise have the connections or opportunities to do so on their own, gain exposure to courts and litigation through internships. JIOP provides students with valuable soft and hard skills to develop their skills, refining individuals into attorneys equipped to serve the broader legal community.

What does JIOP mean to you?

To me, JIOP means two things, opportunity and family. Through JIOP, I received the opportunity to excel as an attorney and to meet many people who became key to my network. JIOP gives opportunities to individuals who are talented and intelligent but may not have had the opportunity to excel due to their background or credentials. On paper, such individuals may not appear remarkable or showcase the traditional achievements, but JIOP gives them a chance to succeed. Aside from bringing these individuals and the strengths that they may have to the fore, JIOP exposes these individuals to others who can serve as references, mentors, and resources. For instance, my screening interviewer became a helpful resource to me, and I would ask him questions that I was afraid to ask or uncomfortable asking others. These types of relationships that I developed through JIOP, such as those with my mentors and the law clerks working with me, grew into my professional family of sorts. Were it not for JIOP, I would not have such a vibrant and valuable community around me.

Kristen Chang is an attorney at Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, P.C., and serves as the newsletter editor for JIOP.

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