The word lawyer sends shivers down the spines of many people; it’s synonymous with lies, corruption, alcoholism, and dissatisfaction from practicing lawyers. Never has an industry or profession evoked so much negativity toward it like the field of law; although we have the same traits within the fields of accounting, field of journalism and media, and law enforcement that have contributed innumerable crimes, atrocities, and malefactions on persons and society.
So, let us totally forget about how much money accountants have swindled from their clients, lied and manipulated their way to the top. Let us ignore how much the media and many journalists have manipulated statistics, exaggerated and falsely represented persons or stories, ignored or falsely represented racial or ethnic groups, or have been biased toward countless groups, cities, regions or countries. Let us overlook the abuse that we’ve suffered by the hands of our law enforcement that can be and have been infiltrated by powerful persons who have their own agendas. Yes, let us forget about all of that and focus on these evil lawyers (hint of sarcasm), where in many cases are improving our world that we live in.
Of course there is corruption in every field, and the field of law is no exception, but lawyers are absolutely needed- at least in the world that has been designed for us. Some myths about lawyers that imply or state that as much as half of all lawyers wouldn’t enter the profession if they were given the choice again, or wouldn’t recommend their children become lawyers aren’t completely accurate. There are many lawyers who aren’t only proud to be attorneys but they find law to be very rewarding, satisfying, and highly recommend the profession to their children, and many children of lawyers have proudly followed in their footsteps with honor. Of course many lawyers also have derived from amazing households that are far from the law field, but still find the profession to be very gratifying, fulfilling, and it’s not uncommon to hear an attorney admit that being a lawyer is an extraordinary calling. It’s not abnormal to hear a lawyer say proudly that they innately felt drawn to the profession since a very young age, and many attorneys got the bug for law due to the injustices that they witnessed as a child or young adult. Although it’s true that many lawyers quickly realize upon entering the field of law that many times it’s not always about justice, but rather about the politics and other grey areas that surround justice, the ones that find it to be their true calling will always shine.
In recent years the profession has struggled to recover from bad economic times, so it’s certainly not easy to be a lawyer these days but that doesn’t stop many practicing attorneys from pushing through the hard times, including a lawyer by the name of Erika Glenn. This Detroit, MI native is a proud Houston-based attorney that found her true passion in law, and her career has sky-rocketed since passing the bar exam in May of 2012. Glenn may be very young but her resume reveals a person with the experience of someone who’s been practicing law for years; Harvard Law School and the American Bar Association (ABA) already has requested her expertise in the field of law, so she is definitely destined for an extraordinary career in the law profession. For an amazing person like Erika Glenn, you shouldn’t be flabbergasted at her great start in her profession, because she’s unbelievably driven. Her character carries into the devotion she has for law, and her commitment reveals a person who has a plan to change the world in a positive direction.
Glenn, who is fluent in Spanish, has a zeal and passion to help and assist the Latino community, after witnessing the social issues in Miami, FL between Cubans and Haitians. Glenn stated, “I knew I wanted to become a lawyer since age 10. The turning point for me came during my last year of my M.S. program. While I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but to feel pulled towards other social issues that I witnessed in Miami, FL. There were many racial disparities and a great deal of racial tension between Cubans and Haitians regarding different legislation and I felt helpless. I wanted to effect change and I felt I couldn’t because I wasn’t a lawyer yet. Although I enjoyed my M.S. degree I still felt empty inside and as if, I wanted to do and become more. Therefore, I began applying to law school during my last year of graduate school.” Countless lawyers share the commonality of feeling helpless at some point in their lives due to an injustice(s), whether that injustice stemmed from generational or situational issues, and that is why they desired to enter into a profession where they can effect change, and make profound reforms, progress, among other positive transformations. If it wasn’t for those persons who were raised in the 60s, or in other turbulent eras in the United States of America then today we may not have had as many Black, White and Latino lawyers who fight for us due to the harsh injustices they witnessed during their childhood or upbringing. These lawyers should be saluted rather than assailed for their willingness to commit themselves to such a demanding task of altering America.
Attorney, Erika Glenn, not only wants to change America but she’s ready to change the world with her commitment to law. Law is one of the few professions that can effect change; if you wish or desire to see change then law is the profession you may want to explore. Glenn has her feet planted in both, Immigration and International law, and maintains the same high-level commitment and desire for both fields.
Besides law, Glenn has a very demanding schedule of other professional pursuits and extra curricular activities that keep her very active; her personal and professional life fulfills her because of her innate ability to realize who she is and to implement that into her professional life. This attorney, Erika Glenn, also teaches and is very instrumental in a myriad of organizations, and in her free time she mentors college and law students. Glenn is definitely a busy human being who possesses a sundry of abilities, skills, experiences and expertise that will serve her well in her future endeavors, and will serve us well also. To learn more about this rising-star lawyer, read the Q&A portion below; you’ll be surprised at what you find out.
What were your University choices, and what made you choose Kent State University?
University of Michigan, Central Michigan and Kent State. I actually couldn’t decide between U of M and Kent State. Both acceptance letters were due on the same day of the following week. Since I couldn’t decide my mother made me walk to the post office and told me to pray about my decision while I walked. I arrived at the post office and still couldn’t decide so I said a quick prayer, closed my eyes and told myself to just drop an envelope in the mailbox. Whichever one was still in my hand was the one I wouldn’t attend. When I opened my eyes, the acceptance letter to U of M was still in my hands. I went to visit Kent State about a month later and didn’t look back or think twice.
Why did you choose Communication Studies as your major, and Spanish as your minor for your undergraduate program?
I originally began undergrad with the intention of majoring in broadcast journalism and then going to law school. However, after my first semester of my freshman year I quickly learned that broadcast journalism was not for me. I enjoyed learning about the ways people communicate as well as communicating with others so I searched for a major that fulfilled both areas of interest. I learned about my major from an older student, met with an advisor, fell in love with the major and didn’t look back. As for Spanish, I had studied Spanish since high school and really enjoyed the language. I picked it up quickly and wanted to stick with it so I minored in it.
Because you minored in Spanish, you must have put in extra work to become fluent, so how did you become fluent in Spanish?
I definitely put in a lot of work! I studied abroad twice during undergrad in both Costa Rica and Mexico. While abroad I studied at the local universities and stayed with native families. Neither family allowed me to speak in English so it really forced me to get out of my comfort zone and push myself to speak frequently and learn from my mistakes. Living abroad really helped me to speak the language without thinking twice about my mistakes while speaking, and helped me to become more comfortable making mistakes. I also took many Spanish courses in college and did volunteer work with migrant workers to offer additional practice with speaking the language.
Going from Communication Studies and Spanish to attaining a MA in Higher Education Administration did you have a plan or did you fall into that MA program?
My plan was actually to finish undergrad and go straight to law school. However, I was very involved in Student Life and extracurricular activities on-campus as an undergraduate. As a result of being involved, I learned about my master’s program and the field of Student Affairs Administration. I found it to be exciting and fun, and a way to help college students in the same way that other administrators helped me. Therefore, I pursued my M.S. So in a way, I suppose I fell into it.
When did you become interested in the law, and what was the moment that made you want to attend Law School?
I knew I wanted to become a lawyer since age 10. The turning point for me came during my last year of my M.S. program. While I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but to feel pulled towards other social issues that I witnessed in Miami, FL. There were many racial disparities and a great deal of racial tension between Cubans and Haitians regarding different legislation and I felt helpless. I wanted to effect change and I felt I couldn’t because I wasn’t a lawyer yet. Although I enjoyed my M.S. degree I still felt empty inside and as if, I wanted to do and become more. Therefore, I began applying to law school during my last year of graduate school.
What made you attend Thurgood Marshall School of Law when you had other choices? What was it about this law school that made you choose it?
Out of the many schools I visited something just felt right when I walked into the law school. The staff and the students were extremely helpful and welcoming, and I could see myself as a student in that environment. The law school is one of the most diverse law schools in the U.S. and that meant a lot to me because I value intercultural interactions. Houston, TX was big, economical, and diverse, had great weather, and was a place I could see myself long-term so I decided to apply to TMSL. I’m very happy I made that decision because I truly feel that I went to the best law school in the world!
Why Immigration and International law? Do you like one better?
Immigration is very close to my heart because it’s an area that allows me to fight for justice for others and make a visible difference. Most of the immigration work I do is in the Latino community so it allows me to not only use my Spanish but to have fun helping others at the same time. Some of the immigration issues that are of extreme importance to me are: the DREAM Act, human trafficking and Special Immigrant Juveniles cases involving minors who come to the U.S. unaccompanied to seek refuge from violence in their home country.
International law is important for many of the same reasons. There are many problems with unequal treatment of individuals from other countries as well as corruption. I like to be able to help those individuals, and help eliminate corruption and human torture that occurs in other countries.
I don’t really have a favorite because they’re pretty much the same, and involve the same principles from a human rights perspective.
Name some of the non-profit organizations you’re involved with?
• Neighborhood Centers Incorporated
• NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected Officials)
• LULAC (League of United Latino American Citizens)
• Love in Abundance Inc.
• American Bar Association
• Habitat for Humanity
• National Black Law Student Association
What issues do these groups experience, and why do they seek your help?
I assist them with completing their applications for U.S. Citizenship. They usually seek out myself and other volunteer attorneys because we offer the service free of charge and give free legal consultation. In terms of issues, I think they usually face just not knowing how to go about the application process and how to prepare for the Citizenship Interview with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
Are people surprised that you’re bilingual?
Yes, people are often shocked that I am.
So, you’re a lawyer, teacher, and volunteer. What subject(s) do you teach adults, and how were you involved as a faculty member for Public Speaking Courses?
As of now, I’m not teaching any adult classes but that may change for next Spring semester. I hope to begin teaching at one of the local community colleges.
For the Public Speaking course, I instructed freshmen, seniors and graduate students on how to improve their public speaking skills. They presented both formal and informal speeches in front of me, and took graded exams to improve their performance. It was truly one of my favorite classes to teach!
How involved are you with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority?
As of now, I support local initiatives when I have the time. I also mentor my sorority sisters that are currently law students at TMSL. I make sure they have academic and emotional support while in law school, and help to provide them with study materials to assist them with their classes.
You mentor law and college students, so what subjects do you focus on?
I don’t focus on subjects but more so, providing career guidance, assistance with preparing for the bar exam, and advice on course work and classes, as well as, tips on studying and organizing study schedules.
How do you find the time, and how organized are you?
My weekends are usually the time that I volunteer and meet with the students I mentor. Every once in a while I volunteer during the work week but I try not to so that I have time to work on my personal development such as working out and devoting time to learning new areas of law. I’m still not as organized as I would like to be but every day I get better!
How many law articles do you have published, and are they about Immigration or International law?
So far I’ve had two articles published. Both are on immigration.
What is your goal as a lawyer?
As of now, my goal is to become a skilled appellate court writer and to learn as much as possible.
What do you plan to do within the Immigration and International law fields?
As for immigration, I plan on expanding my law practice at the firm I work at to include more immigration cases as well as more complex immigration cases. As for international law, I would love to one day do work involving international business contracts.
Attorney, Erika Glenn, is definitely on her way to continued success, and we hope to witness more of her amazing work to come. Don’t forget to read her lauded law articles here at: Harvard Law School and American Bar Association!