Finding a higher cause in the law
Just a year out of law school, Daissy Dominguez opened her own successful firm
Job Title: Principal attorney at Dominguez Legal Justice Center, LLC
Degree: BA, ’10, Political Science
What’s a typical workday for you?
As an immigration attorney, my work days are constantly changing and that is one of the things I love the most about my job. I can be in court or in client meetings. If I do not have any case work or client meetings, then I spend the day doing community outreach.
When I am working only on my cases I typically like to either work from home, at local coffee shops, at the lake, or the park if the weather permits. Being my own boss, I have the freedom to not work from the office if I don’t have client meetings.
When I am not in meetings or working on cases, I am typically attending a networking meeting/event or doing community outreach. I visit local community organizations to discuss ways of collaborating; facilitate training workshops at high schools and universities to educate staff of immigration laws and best practices to support undocumented students; train therapists at counseling centers; host educational legal workshops at local community centers to educate undocumented individuals about their constitutional rights and eligibility for immigration relief; and participate as a panelist or keynote speaker at events.
During the summer, I've been an adjunct law professor at The John Marshall Law School.
It is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to hear my clients’ stories and gain their trust because their livelihood is at stake when I work on their cases. It is the most rewarding job to be able to provide a family with the freedom to walk out of the shadows knowing that their family will not be separated once I am able to assist them in gaining legal status.
Working at La Casa Cultural Latina and being actively involved in student organizations helped develop my leadership skills and passion for social activism. La Casa provided me a safe space to grow as a person. At La Casa, I hosted meetings and events to educate and support students on the issues Latino students were facing on campus. At the time the assistant director, Ronnie Kann, not only taught me to be a leader and to fight for social justice, but she also taught me to support other students and how to be a mentor. It is because of the experiences and skills that I developed while working at La Casa Cultural Latina that I had the confidence and skills to be actively involved within my law school and now as a practicing immigration attorney.
Through my major, I was able to gain a basic understanding of the way in which our government functions. The study abroad program in Vienna, Austria, provided me with the wonderful opportunity to visit UN-affiliated organizations and learn about the work that they do and meet individuals who currently work with those organizations. Being able to study abroad and learn about international organizations and their functions helped me consider a career in immigration law.
How did you set up your own law firm?
After I graduated from The John Marshall Law School in May 2013, I was offered positions at a criminal defense law firm and The Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP), a selective legal incubator program designed to help young attorneys develop a sustainable law practice dedicated to serving low and moderate-income communities. I was able to set a schedule that allowed me to work at the criminal defense firm while participating in the JEP program to develop my own law firm.
After a year of hard work, I felt financially secure enough to part ways with the criminal defense law firm, and be 100 percent dedicated to my own law firm. I am proud to say that ever since I ventured off on my own, my firm has been financially sustainable, and every year the annual revenue continues to grow.
During my second year of law school I designed an academic retention program for first year law students called the Academic Enhancement Program (AEP). AEP began with approximately 20 first year law students and over the course of six years roughly over 300 students have participated. AEP has proven to be a very successful program in promoting academic excellence among minority students and inspiring several second and third year students to consider a career in teaching. The program has become very well known among the students and articles have been published in the Daily Law Bulletin Newspaper and the Hispanic Outlook for Higher Education Magazine discussing the program and its success.
What do you do when you’re not practicing law or outreach?
I go to the boxing gym in the afternoons during the week which forces me to stop working by 6 or 7 p.m. and allows me to relieve my stress. Therefore, boxing has been a form of therapy for me to relieve my stress and also take care of my body physically. I also enjoy painting and use that as another form of therapy to clear my mind, while creating a beautiful piece of art.
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