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Student Profile: Matthew Sanchez ('21)

Matthew Sanchez
Current president of DePaul's Latino Law Student Association (LLSA), Matthew Sanchez has been a staff member on the DePaul Law Review since 2019, and he has received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Civil Procedure, Property Law, Litigation Laboratory, Legal Writing I and III, and Legal Drafting: Civil Litigation. Since joining the College of Law, he has served as a summer associate at both Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Winston & Strawn, LLP. 

David Rodriguez, director of the Third Year in Practice (3YP) Program, describes him as “a gift to our profession" with skills and character that set him apart from other students. According to Rodriguez, “Matt is not just a student, he is an intellectual.  This word doesn't just capture Matt's cognitive abilities, but his character, as a true intellectual must also possess the gift of empathy, and I immediately saw this while working with him on an eviction case where he defended a mother and daughter being unjustly evicted."
Q. What did you do before law school? 

I went directly from undergrad [at Loyola Chicago] to law school. I did intern at a law firm the summer before staring at DePaul in order to gain some exposure to the legal field, because I only had a faint understanding of the American legal system that didn't go much beyond what you see on TV. I have no attorneys in my family, so I understood early on that I would have to do everything I could to learn and adapt to law school, law practice and legal networking environments.

Q. What inspired you to go to law school? 

My decision to go to law school was inspired by a family tragedy and a desire to help others share their stories. My first time stepping inside a courthouse was for a criminal proceeding in which my family was the victim. I was 17 years old and extremely frustrated with my inability to understand what was taking place in the courtroom. With the legal jargon and criminal procedures in place, I couldn't figure out what were the consequences of important rulings or orders and whether or not they were favorable to my family. The law was a whole new language that I was completely unfamiliar with. 

As a teenager, I would look to my parents and elders for answers, only to find that they were just as lost in the process as I was. How was it that out of the crowds of family, neighbors and friends, none of us could understand what was happening in front of our eyes for a legal proceeding that dramatically affected our hearts? Something wasn't right. My family and my community lacked an understanding of the legal system and how their rights and stories are expressed and decided upon within that system. I decided to go to law school so I could help my family and my community understand their rights and how those rights can be defended both in and out of the courtroom. 

Q. What have been some of your most notable accomplishments?
One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is earning my bachelor's degree. School never came easy to me. I reached a point as an undergrad when I had a 2.8 GPA and was in jeopardy of losing my much-needed scholarship for failure to maintain my GPA requirement. As a first-generation student, I realized I couldn't go to my family for the academic support I needed and that I would have to start seeking the help I needed on my own. During this period, I learned that as a first-generation student, I would have to put in extra work and time to accomplish my goals. I also learned that extra work absolutely pays off, because I graduated with cum laude honors in the end.

Q. Why did you decide to run for president of LLSA? What are changes you've made as president of the LLSA? 

I decided to run for president of LLSA so I could give back to the student organization that welcomed me to the law school community with open arms. LLSA has been and continues to be an integral part of my law school experience. When I started as a 1L, my 3L LLSA mentors showed me how to navigate the first year, and they always answered any questions I had. As president of LLSA, I want to do everything I can to provide an open environment, where members can go to each other for academic, professional and social support. The biggest change I've made as president of LLSA is inviting guest attorneys to our general monthly meetings, so members can learn about different practice areas and connect with attorneys in those areas. 

Q. What do you plan to do after completing law school? Any particular areas of interest?

After graduation, I will start my career as an associate with Winston & Strawn LLP, focusing on commercial litigation. I have a growing interest in trade secret law, non-compete agreements and data privacy, but we will see where my career takes me!