Fordham Law student Lorena Jiron ‘17 has been awarded a $3,000 scholarship from the Dominican Bar Association. She will receive the scholarship at the DBA 13th Annual Scholarship Gala on September 20 at Battery Gardens.
Jiron plans to use the award for her transition from law school to her legal career. “I am grateful for organizations such as the DBA that exist to help foster communities among legal professionals who are Latino,” she said.
Jiron was raised in Miami by a single mother, who immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua in 1974. After her mother passed away in 2009 following a diagnosis of cervical cancer, Jiron was responsible for settling her affairs, a job she says could have been less intimidating had she had a law degree.
“I feel like going to law school and trying to be a lawyer is inherently mixed in with my Latina identity,” Jiron said. “Latino populations in places like New York City lack critical legal resources, especially when it comes to the immigration status of an individual. Even when people do hold a green card and have some sort of legal status, they don’t know all their rights, what they can do with those rights, or even if they can turn to the police for help.”
Jiron has observed this vulnerability firsthand through various legal internships. She has worked in the immigration unit of New York Legal Assistant Group; the immigration and family law unit of Legal Services NYC in the Bronx; Day One, an organization that works with youth ages 16-24 who are victims of intimate partner violence; and civil rights practice group Newman Ferrara LLP. She is currently interning for the Honorable Jenny Rivera of the New York State Court of Appeals.
Following graduation she would like to continue her work with women who struggle with domestic violence, many of whom are not native English speakers.
“These women could benefit from someone who speaks their language, who understands them and where they are coming from,” said Jiron, who is fluent in Spanish and French. “Speaking through a translator can be difficult for both the attorney and the client. I think there is a great need for attorneys who speak other languages and who will devote time to these populations.”
Before enrolling at Fordham, Jiron taught English in Egypt and also worked at an all-girls boarding school in Afghanistan.
Jiron believes that her experience living around the world has provided her with a multifaceted cultural perspective, which she anticipates will play a key role in her legal career.