GirlGang Series- Daissy Dominguez
Each month, GlamBunny will feature an inspirational woman, doing great things. The featured women in this series are women being bad asses in their professional field, life or have overcome a difficult challenge in their life. A Glam Bunny is a well rounded, caring individual with goals and a plan to achieve them. She is high on life, cares for and loves herself, and aims to help others or inspire others through their work or simply by being themselves.
In this feature, we present to you, GlamBunny out of Chicago, Illinois - Daissy Dominguez, Attorney.
Name: Daissy Dominguez
Where are you from? Chicago, IL
Career/ Title : Attorney
What inspired you to get into the law field?
At an early age, I began saying “I want to be a lawyer” because I was fascinated by shows like “Law and Order,” and my mother would always say jokingly, “you should be a lawyer because you sure do know how to argue!”
I began to realize how the law played a major role in creating change and helping people.
Growing up, I witnessed my mother being exploited and mistreated at her jobs but there was nothing that I could do at the time. The experiences I endured and witnessed developed my passion to tackle social issues for which I felt the best avenue to address those issues would be by becoming a lawyer and understanding the law.
What level of education do you have?
What advice can you give someone just starting college or thinking about going into the same career field?
Regardless of whether you want to go to law school or not, it is important to stay focused on your academics during your first year of college, because it is very difficult once you start off with a low GPA to increase your GPA. Having a solid GPA will open many opportunities for you.
If you are considering the legal profession, Go for it!! Becoming an attorney is not a walk in the park, but I strongly believe anyone can accomplish anything they set their minds to if they are dedicated, work hard, and have the passion for it. Keep in mind, that when you graduate with a Juris Doctor, you do not have to be an attorney, the degree is versatile and will open many other career opportunities. You can start your own business, get into politics, consult, teach, and the list goes on! I encourage students to do research on alternative career paths for someone who has a Juris Doctor degree to get ideas about all the other career opportunities that would be available to them if they went to law school.
Just as an example, although I am an attorney I also do a variety of other things aside from simply handling cases. I started my own business, host legal community workshops educating our communities about their legal rights, conduct legal trainings for professionals who work with undocumented populations, I was an adjunct law professor for the summer, I developed a mentoring program for students interested in the legal profession, funded a small scholarship for undocumented college students, and mentor attorneys who want to start their own private practice.
I can practically do anything that I set my mind to with my degree. I encourage students to connect with attorney’s who can mentor them and provide them with opportunities to shadow them, because they need to know what it is like to be an attorney on a daily basis to determine if that is really what they want to do.
Think about where you want to be in 5-10 years and will going to law school and obtaining a Juris Doctor further those goals? Or help facilitate achieving those goals sooner? If so, then go for it! If you are uncertain, then find an attorney mentor, research the career opportunities ,shadow a law student/law class, observe court hearings, and shadow attorneys to decide if you want to go to school.
If you are certain about your decision to go to law school and become an attorney, then stay focused on your academics and get involved in debate/mock trial teams, or any other activities related to the law. Research internship opportunities and organizations that support students who are interested in going to law school. Take a lot of writing and research courses because being an attorney requires a lot of writing and research, or any courses that expand your analytical skills.
You do not have to major in Political Science nor will that major give you an advantage over other students in law school, the best thing to do is to pick a major that you are interested in, in order for you to get good grades and build a solid GPA.
I love being an attorney and always encourage students to consider the legal profession!
What is the hardest challenge you've faced in chasing your career goals?
My first year of law school was the first time in my entire academic career when I felt academically challenged. During that first year, my grandfather passed away in the middle of my final exams which took a toll on my academics. That year was one of the most difficult years and at one point I questioned whether I had the capability to be an attorney. I managed to pull myself together and get through my first year of law school despite the difficulties I had encountered because I was determined to become an attorney. After that difficult year, I took a difficult situation and turned it into a positive one. The following year I took the initiative to design an academic retention program for first year law students called the Academic Enhancement Program (AEP), to assist minority students academically in order to increase the retention rates. I turned my struggle into a positive program that would help support other students because I did not want other students to struggle like I did.
The John Marshall Law School recognized the importance of supporting and increasing diversity within the legal profession and therefore funded AEP through the Office of Diversity Affairs. The AEP program has not only improved the retention rate of students of color, it has also resulted in several AEP students becoming a part of honors programs, executive board members of student organizations and obtaining prestigious externships and scholarships. The program has not only encouraged academic excellence but it has created a sense of community and a support system within participating students and instructors.
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 inteaching. The retention rates of minority students have increased dramatically since the program began. The program has become very well known among the students at The John Marshall Law School 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. Due to the success of the program The John Marshall Law School has funded the program for over 6 years and has implemented it as an official program under the Office of Diversity Affairs.
Do you have a mentor? If so, why do you think it is important to have one?
Yes, throughout my life I have consistently had several mentors supporting me along the way. I do not think I would be where I am, had I not had the support of my mentors guiding me along the way. I encourage everyone to find a mentor because I strongly believe it is important to have at least one. I have become very close with my mentors and they are like family to me.
How do you balance work/life?
Balancing work/life has been a challenge for me, because I am passionate about my work and can get consumed in my work. But I constantly remind myself that I need to have a good balance between work and my personal time, because I cannot do a good job and help others if I do not take care of myself.
I am the type of person that needs to constantly stay busy and do not like sitting around watching TV and wasting my time. Therefore, I would constantly be working from home because I could not just sit around the house doing nothing. But working long hours and not having a balanced lifestyle is not a healthy lifestyle. I decided the best thing to do was to get involved in activities after work that kept me occupied. Over time I have participated in Salsa classes, Kick boxing, Martial Arts, and other activities to keep myself occupied in the evenings during the week. After exploring different activities, I fell in love with my boxing gym. I go to the boxing gym in the afternoons during the week which forces me to stop working by 6 or 7pm 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.
I implemented a strict rule on myself, that I will not work on weekends and will only use that time to spend with family and friends because typically during the week I am working and at the gym.
What is one thing you wish someone would've told you?
I wish someone would have told me that majoring in Political Science was not necessary! At that time, I was under the impression that I should major in Political Science because it would probably help me do well in law school. That was not the case at all and it was a major that I did not enjoy, but I declared that major because I thought it would be beneficial if I wanted to be an attorney. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had someone tell me to declare a major that is practical and one that I actually enjoy studying.
What inspires you?
Meeting and learning about the work that other individuals are doing to make a positive difference in our communities and who are fighting for social justice. I love learning about the different ways in which individuals are helping our communities and findings ways of collaborating with one another to further our common goal of making a positive difference in our communities. There are so many individuals doing amazing work in our communities and I believe it is important to connect and collaborate with one another to fight for social justice together.
The positive impact that my work has on families when I help them with their immigration legal matter, or when I’ve provided them with the guidance and resources to address their needs, is priceless and motivates me every day to keep fighting for their rights, and connecting with other community leaders to work together to support our communities. Thinking about the families and the communities in need, pushes me to wake-up every morning, and work hard because these are families that are humble, kind, work hard, and deserve equal opportunities.
What are some of your life goals?
I see myself owning a successful mid-size law firm with a non-profit organization, a fully funded scholarship, and mentoring/internship program. The law firm will focus primarily on representing individuals with their immigration legal needs. After we have helped our clients obtain legal status, the nonprofit will assist those clients who now have legal status in becoming active citizens in their communities.
As I have been representing clients on various immigration matters I have realized, especially for those who have been in the shadows for so long that they will now have legal status, but don't have the skills necessary to get a better job or how to become active in their community to make a positive change. Therefore, the non-profit will offer leadership trainings, register new citizens to vote and teach them how to register others to vote, resume and interview workshops to help individuals prepare themselves for a better job, computer and English courses etc. The law firm and nonprofit will work jointly to help individuals gain legal status and then transition them into becoming active citizens in our communities.
The center would also be an educational pipe-line providing scholarships to undocumented college students and internships for students interested in pursuing a legal career. It would also provide coaching to Latino attorneys who wish to establish their own private practice because I understand how difficult it is to start a firm. I am also interested in working as an adjunct professor at a law school or work in the academic department to assist law school in their retention programs. Currently I am doing the things I described above, but in a smaller scale and just wish to expand those initiatives on a larger scale.
How do you go about planning to achieve the goals you've set for yourself?
I am a goal oriented individual and therefore am constantly setting goals and monitoring my progress. I have long-term goals, yearly goals, and short-term goals. I start backwards establishing first my long-term goals and breaking it down into yearly and short-term goals that will help me accomplish those long-term goals.
At the start of the year I set out a plan for what I want to accomplish that year. I monitor my progress on a monthly basis to ensure that I am staying on track or determine if I need to make any changes. I break down my yearly goals into steps or short-term goals that I track in order to ensure that I am taking all the steps necessary to accomplish that yearly or long-term goal. For each small-term goal I determine the steps and how long it will take to accomplish to set a time-line for myself. For every goal or step I sit down and figure out what I need to do to accomplish that step. As I am working on that step or goal I continue to explore, research, and reassess the situation to make changes if necessary as I go along the way. I am consistent, committed, and flexible as I am working towards each step or goal.
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