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When did you first fall in love with the law? Justice?

I didn’t contemplate pursuing a career as an attorney until I was winding down my service as a United States Marine. In the Marine Corps, I served as an enlisted infantryman in the Iraq War. I had deep pride in being the protector of my fellow Marine brothers and American freedom and democracy. Leaving the Marine Corps, I wanted to keep serving in some capacity. As I met with other Latino undergraduate professors, judges, and attorneys, I began to develop an equally strong passion to serve my community as an advocate for the just application of the rule of law.

Who has helped you along the way and what have you done to pay that help forward?

Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of being mentored by a special group seasoned attorneys that helped guide me through law school, the bar exam, and professional development. Kevin Pagan, Ernie Aliseda, Joe Escobedo, Art Purtile, Ray Thomas, Kuruvilla Oommen and Mike Shaunessy are more than just mentors. They’ve become some of my closest friends and confidants. They’ve taught me the importance of the “reach and pull” method. As we “reach” toward personal dreams and goals, we are compelled to “pull” up those coming behind us. Each of these men are highly accomplished and have extremely busy schedules. Still, they always make time to have lunch, coffee, or a simple phone call. I do my best to make myself available to others. It’s not a burden. It’s an honor to help others succeed.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your legal career as a Man of color?  (Why do you think these challenges are unique to men of color?)

The biggest challenge for me has been driving without a map. My parents were immigrants from Mexico and never obtained a college degree. They wanted be to go further in life and encouraged me to pursue college and, later, law school. However, no fault of their own, they sent me off without a road map to accomplish all of those goals. I think most men of color have the same experience. That’s why mentoring is so critical to the advancement of minorities in professional leadership positions. Aspiring leaders, especially men of color, should remember to reach AND pull (see previous question).

What advice do you have for other men of color in their first five years of practice?

Don’t hesitate to ask for help – everyone else does, why not you? Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. The self-made man is a myth. Making genuine relationships is critical to succeeding in the legal profession. Help is not a dirty word. Also, sharing about your accomplishments is not being arrogant if it’s being done to encourage others. When I see news articles or social media posts of the great things that my mentors have accomplished, I’m encouraged and challenged to accomplish the same someday. That next generation of attorneys that you’re looking to help pull-up needs to be encouraged too.

Tell us about some of your hobbies outside of practicing law.

As a family, we love to travel. Now, that we’ve recently moved to North Texas, we like taking my son to see the Texas Rangers and Dallas Mavericks. When we can, my wife and I try to catch a concert or go country dancing.

What are some personal experiences you’ve had along the way that have helped you in your career?

Bar service has helped me tremendously. First, our line of work can be stressful participating in community service related bar activities helps provide perspective. That helps reduce stress most times. Second, engaging in bar service allows you to establish strong relationships with other members of the legal community. I started volunteering with my county bar association. That experience led to other leadership opportunities with the State Bar of Texas, Texas Young Lawyers Association and American Bar Association – Young Lawyers Division.