Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
hero image women\'s history month photo of Sophia
hero image women\'s history month photo of Sophia
Photo by @sophinlaw

Meet Sophia: The Anti-Suffering Law School Page

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

At some point or another, we’ve all had a dream career whether it’s what we imagined we’d do in our childhood or not. Meet Sophia (@sophinlaw), a second-year law student in the Midwest who grew up never assuming she could become a practicing attorney. She documents her legal journey and helps fill the gap in available information in this gatekept profession and has amassed nearly 30 thousand followers across Instagram and TikTok. I had the pleasure to have a meaningful conversation with her to talk about her legal experience thus far.

As an undergraduate Spanish major and former teacher, she is passionate about combining her love of languages and the helping profession of law. She is currently on the pro bono board, helping run one of her law school’s clinics which she describes as her law school journey highlight. She gets to experiment with various practice areas, acts as the primary translator, and continues to assist an underrepresented population. Sophia is also involved in the First Generation Professionals Group where she helps fill the gap in the profession and provides the support and knowledge she wishes she had when applying to law school herself. While she is still exploring practice areas, she is primarily invested in tax law and public interest. She previously interned for a regional big law firm and is now currently completing an externship in public interest civil litigation work focused on the housing sector.

Why I Do Pro Bono

HCUCF: How does your background impact how you view your legal career?

Sophia: All of it ties together constantly and you often can’t see why you made a decision until you’re outside of it and can understand the connection it has to your life. Growing up in a big family, I always felt the pressure to be the one that made the right choices, got good grades, and was going to make the money to provide for my parents. I always wanted the “smart career” and excelled in the sciences and math (the opposite of the legal stereotype). After participating in engineering and science camps, I fell into the gifted trope where people advised that I’d be really good at this and this, and I let that lead me to pursue med school throughout undergrad. I slowly realized I didn’t want to go the pre-med path (even took the MCAT) but didn’t know how to back out of it. I found myself inspired by my experiences in Civil Rights Pilgrimage, a ten-day trip in the South I took with my undergrad, and an introduction to the Equal Justice Initiative — a program dedicated to helping individuals in solitary confinement and falsely imprisoned.  All along I knew I wanted to be in a helping profession and reconciled with the fact that my career wasn’t going to be what I thought. With my original interest in immigration and policy, I pursued the law school path. 

HCUCF: What inspired your choice of going into the legal field?

S: The initial spark was the Civil Rights Pilgrimage and seeing the mission of the EJI. I got to meet somebody that they’d helped and, overall, it was such a life-altering experience. I’ve always been very politically engaged, I’ve been going to protests since I was nine. I’ve constantly been learning about politics and policy and am interested in always knowing what’s going on. It got me thinking like, damn, I don’t want to be a doctor, but I didn’t know how I wanted to use my Spanish degree. Growing up, the only attorney I knew was my uncle, he was a public defender, and all I knew about being an attorney was a public defender, prosecutor, or at a law firm, and had no idea that the occupational opportunities were limitless. I decided to take a legal writing class and went for it knowing I would figure it out as I go. I got to law school and knew I definitely wanted to do this. But now I just feel like I know there are so many more opportunities than I ever knew were available ever to me. It’s like the world is my oyster right now and I can pursue such different paths I didn’t know existed before.

HCUCF: During law school, what has helped you the most to get to where you are and keep you going?

S: The initial answer is me. At the end of the day, it might take me a long time to get there and understand that I need to do what I need to do, but I’m always the pressure and decision-maker for myself even if it takes longer than it should. I always know that I’ll end up doing what I need to do and figuring it out. I know that no matter what I end up doing, my family will always support me and help in any way they can. Besides that, the relationships I have with people and their reciprocation help me keep the motivation and pursue my goals.

HCUCF: How would you describe the legal culture?

S: I think the workplace environment plays a lot into it because, as a whole, the legal field can be super daunting and is rampantly interconnected. It is really what you make it. But I think the hard part is you don’t understand all of the social dynamics, all of the economic dynamics, all of the hierarchical aspects of firms. Who has power where, who’s serving on what boards, and doing what? As a first-generation student, you have little knowledge of this and it can be incredibly hard when you don’t come from a background where you’ve had to play into a system or use a system to your advantage to have it not oppress you. It can be difficult because you can be stuck in this position where you either make a choice that could help you but isn’t necessarily true to you or what you want to do or stay true to yourself and not take that risk. I think it’s really hard because those things aren’t talked about. So then, when you’re faced with those decisions, you don’t know how to respond in those environments. Sometimes, especially in the high-income environments of the legal field, you get asked questions, and sometimes won’t be able to relate and respond. I don’t want skis. I’ve never rented skis. I don’t even know where I would go to ski.

Cost of Law School

HCUCF: What’s one piece of advice you would give to a pre-law student and a piece of advice you’d give to a current law student?

S: For pre-law students, apply to every waiver possible. Try not to pay any money upfront, apply to every single waiver, apply to all of the waivers, even to schools, too. Reach out to schools that you’re interested in because that’s something that I always regretted. I was lucky and I ended up being able to talk to somebody who goes to my school before I went to my school and before I even decided to go here and that’s the only person that I talked to from any school. They really helped me make my decision later on, and I wish I had done that with more schools. Even though I am very happy with my decision, I wish I would have known that information. As far as students who are in law school, something that’s been critical is fostering relationships of different levels around the school with peers, professors, and administration. Go and talk to them, but it’s really nice to know that you have professors who can vouch for you, write a letter of recommendation, or just support you. Those connections are really valuable, not just in the legal field sense, but because of their individual experiences that you can learn from. With how business law gets highlighted, we can get lost in the sauce and forget how the whole purpose of this field stems from a helping profession.

HCUCF: What’s your hot take about the legal profession?

S: I think my hot take is probably that all the information that you could ever need already exists on the Internet for free. I, personally, don’t think that pre-law students should have to or should even consider paying anyone for any information. You shouldn’t be paying for people’s services considering nobody can guarantee your success at one school over another. That’s personally not our call to make, and it’s always going to be up to that specific administration at that specific school and that specific season. That’s something that can be really frustrating about the legal field in general is, there’s always so much uncertainty. There’s always so much gray area, there’s always so much ‘it depends’. But all of that information is yours to take in and decide the best decision for you, and I don’t think you should have to pay for that information.

Things I Wish I Would’ve Been Told Before Law School

HCUCF: Right now, where do your passions lie in the legal field?

S: I gain more interest over time and because of the way I came in, and I was like, “oh, I’m going to do something criminal related”, got to litigation classes and thought, “oh, maybe not for me I don’t want to litigate.” My 1L summer had me thinking maybe I do really want to do transactional. Now that I’m doing my externship, I’m doing civil litigation and low-income housing work and could see myself doing this. As far as interest, I see the work I’ve done in tac, policy, and housing as building blocks to whatever I end up doing for work. I’ll do what I do for work, but I will have all of these other interests that will supplement my life, supplement my work. I’m gathering interests like Pokemon and when it’s their time to play, I’m going to play them. That’s part of the reason why I’m considering taking the time after graduation to stay in public interest and take the time to learn the ins and outs of civil ligation involved in pro bono.

HCUCF: What has been the most rewarding part of law school for you?

S: Pro bono! It’s what you think being a lawyer is like, it’s what I thought being a lawyer is like. You see the clients, take notes, and get to help them yourself. You get the opportunity to provide them with resources, refer them out, we do like all the building blocks, and help them figure out the legal system. Most of the time people don’t know where to look and we’re able to direct them in navigating the system. It often goes back to the gatekept nature of the legal field where people don’t know where to turn to for help. Especially within the clinic I work in, us students who are young and don’t come from wealthy backgrounds could easily be the people coming to these clinics. Instead, I’m privileged to be here in school and learning the ins and outs of the field. Between the teaching aspect and the ability to help others, it’s been the most human part of law school because any of us could be in their shoes at any moment. 

HCUCF: What areas of law do you think you have gotten to explore the most through your pro bono program?

S: My pro bono program is largely civil-related work. I’ve gotten to take on assignments in small claims, eviction, housing, insurance, and, thanks to our large family law part, child support-related work as well. Due to my role at my pro bono clinic, I act as the front-facing person of the clinic and manage all the client intake. Since my clinic is pretty 50-50 English and Spanish, I also handle the translation between students and clients to support the client’s needs. 

HCUCF: You started content creation to document your law school journey and shed light on what the legal field is like. How has that changed over time and impacted you?

S: I have sort of leaned away from solely law school stuff during 1L spring semester and incorporated more aspects of my day-to-day life. where I was like “Do I want to just keep talking about just law school, or like, should I talk about like life more?” It’s made it more interesting and easier to make videos about so it’s not necessarily just what I’m doing in law school. Long term, it’s much more sustainable to do like an account that incorporates more aspects of my life than solely law school, especially considering once I’m barred I won’t be able to openly talk about aspects of my work. That’s a line you have to tread carefully the farther you get into your career. That will inevitably change what I post as well farther down the line.

HCUCF: How has it been navigating networking within law school and through your platform?

S: Interviewing for my fellowship was the first time I’d ever met a bunch of attorneys at once and that was a really interesting experience because I knew going in I have to charm these people. I have to convince them I deserve this position, this opportunity, and that was like a really weird experience, because before then I always felt like my grades carried me. Now I have to be able to show my personality and demonstrate that this is an opportunity that I’m a good fit for. It paid off for me and brought me opportunities while working at my 1L firm and connections I’ve been able to turn to and foster.  

I’ve also been able to recognize the importance of networking with those under me as well. I always wanted that experience of having somebody older who took me under their wing and invested in me. In undergrad, I didn’t have that and strongly depended on myself. I always craved that guidance and wisdom and so now that I have some of that, I can share that with other people and that’s also a network of mine.

HCUCF: You co-host the In Laws Podcast with Brianne, what was the original vision behind the pod and what do you hope someone get from it?

S: So the podcast started when Brianne said that once she hit 15k, she’ll start a podcast. People started commenting for me to co-host with her and we were like “well, we can’t fight the comments, let’s do a podcast”. We try and mix it up and flip-flop between more deep and fact-based discussions on aspects of law school and the profession, and more laid-back conversations. There are endless things to say about law school and the legal field for us to lay out from the “Relationship Between Law School and Disordered Eating,” “Fashion in Law School”, and “Unspoken Rules of Law School.”

HCUCF: Soph, what are you looking forward to for your 2L summer and eventually post-grad?

S: For 2L summer. I’m excited to do something different and just sort of like work in a different environment because I got to explore corporate law during 1L summer. I’m looking forward to trying something else and learning a different aspect of the legal field. For 3L, I’m looking to balance my schedule more with experiential classes and focus on seminars and workshops in the fields I’m interested in. 

I am continuously inspired by Sophia and genuinely can’t wait to see what awaits her as she forges her path in the legal industry. I don’t know about you, but after hearing from Soph, I feel like my dreams of attending law school are within reach.

Make sure to follow Soph on Instagram, Tiktok, and look out for the next episode of the In-Laws podcast.

Brianna is the Editor in Chief and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus UCF! She is studying English Literature and Political Science at the University of Central Florida. Brianna is a writer and creative focused on creating content and publications that promote empowerment among college individuals. She's a lover of Disney, reading a somewhat excessive number of books a year, any form of art expression, & the oxford comma.