As 1Ls prepare application materials in a bid to participate in the 2022 SCBA Diversity Fellowship, John Gutierrez (’23) shared his experience as a fellow in last year’s program and what it has done for his law school journey. Read John’s story below:

John Gutierrez, ’23

“I have always loved storytelling. As a child, my mother would lull me to bed with old Mexican-heritage stories from her abuelita that painted reminiscent pictures of Jalisco’s red-dirt ranches that we would visit in the hot summers. Although I did not know it at the time, these stories were my first cultural connection to my Mexican heritage. Their folkloric lessons introduced me to my family values and, in time, taught me to love my Chicano identity that seemed ever fleeting as my family assimilated into an American lifestyle.

Yet, after my first year in law school, storytelling seemed out of place in the legal profession amidst rote memorization of statutes and regulations. However, my participation in the Sacramento County Bar Associations’ (SCBA) Diversity Fellowship in my 1L summer showed me the part of the law that I was missing: the law is a tool for telling stories.

The SCBA Diversity Fellowship placed me with Boutin Jones Inc., Attorneys at Law, in Sacramento, California. Boutin Jones is Sacramento’s premier business law firm and the firm aspires to a client-centered approach. A critical part of client-centeredness is learning your client’s story and communicating that story to the court.

Whether I was helping a client amend a trust to protect their family’s earnings, or helping a business collect on a judgment that they fairly deserved, every assignment involved telling a story. It was my responsibility to learn the history of the case, actively read the facts, perform legal research with purpose, and apply the law in creative ways to achieve our client’s desired outcome. Through this process, I helped create seamless stories that my firm used to advocate for our clients. Indeed, storytelling is a critical component of the legal profession.

The SCBA Diversity Fellowship is one of those rare gems that can make a transformational change in a person’s life.  Before my 1L summer, I had zero experience in private law and had few connections in the legal field.  Yet, my Fellowship gave me the chance to work hard and demonstrate my legal skills in a top law firm filled with intelligent attorneys.  Without the SCBA Fellowship, I would never have had that chance.

Reapplying to Boutin Jones through McGeorge’s ‘On-Campus Interviews’ (OCI) was a no-brainer, and I was excited to speak about the skills I developed in my Fellowship.  My experience with billable hours, drafting client letters, and working independently gave me an edge over my peers.  I felt confident and prepared for all of my OCI applications because I knew my professional record in a leading firm made me a competitive applicant. Although I was fortunate to receive other OCI offers, I knew if I returned to Boutin Jones then I could learn and develop my legal skills in an environment where I felt welcomed and valued.  I am thrilled to have accepted a return offer from Boutin Jones for my 2L summer and I look forward to the challenging work ahead.

I am grateful that the SCBA Fellowship gave me what all law students desire the most: a chance. A chance to prove myself in a premier law office. A chance to learn from the best attorneys in Sacramento.  And a chance to learn that the legal profession is all about telling stories.”

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