Outstanding Law Student of the Month Award
Juan Fernández Cabrera
The VLP is pleased to announce that Juan Fernández Cabrera has been selected as our Outstanding Law Student Volunteer for the month of December 2015. Juan is a Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, and currently participates in the VLP’s Domestic Relations Project.
Juan is from Argentina and has a Juris Doctor degree from the National University of La Plata, School of Law and Social Sciences in Buenos Aires. Soon after obtaining this degree, he completed a Master in Business Law at Universidad Austral – also in Buenos Aires. Following his master’s program, Juan moved to Tucson and obtained an LL.M in International Trade Law from the James E. Rogers College of Law.
After completing his LL.M, Juan returned to Buenos Aires as a solo practitioner and then as a senior attorney for the Buenos Aires City Government. As the Secretary of the Security, Technical, Administrative, and Legal Department, Juan reviewed contracts and other agreements regarding security issues entered into by the city.
After three years with the Buenos Aires City Government, Juan moved to sunny San Diego to work as a customs compliance officer for NATIVA. In this role, Juan performed oversight for the company’s import operations.
Juan then decided to return to the University of Arizona for the school’s Juris Doctor with Advanced Standing Program, which allows foreign students who have a law degree in their home country to complete their U.S. J.D. in two years. When asked why he chose the U of A, Juan said, "I first came to the U many years ago for an LL.M in International Trade Law. […] I love U of A. There’s no other school that will provide you with the experience that you get here […] You get to know most all the students and professors and they all get to know who you are. It’s amazing."
Juan shared that, as a law student, he decided to become involved with the VLP because he “just wanted to give something back to the community.” Juan explained, "As I found myself going back to school, and I was able to do so thanks to my family and friends, I wanted to be able to give back that help and support that I’ve been given by helping those [who] are not so lucky."
Since returning to the U of A, Juan’s view of the U.S. legal system has changed. He has become aware of the need for access to legal services for low income people. He said, "I realize that if it weren’t for VLP and many other similar organizations there would be lots of low income families left out of the system, simply because they can’t afford to pay the court fees and […] attorney’s fees."
Even though school takes up much of his time, Juan also enjoys camping with his family and riding off-road motorcycles and bikes. His favorite vacation destination is Brazil, where he and his wife used to spend every summer. And, while he doesn’t have a favorite restaurant in Tucson, Juan shared that he tries every single Mexican restaurant in town that he can find.
When asked about his dream job, Juan said that his plans have recently changed.
After [working with] VLP, volunteering for the Pima County Community Justice Board
and the Workers’ Rights Clinic […], my thoughts and goals have changed and I would
like to be able to use my knowledge in a way to help those that otherwise don’t
have a voice, and don’t know that they still have rights and that they can enforce
those rights, no matter what nationality, color of their skin or religion they belong to.
My ultimate dream is to be able to have my own law firm someday and be able to
provide free legal advice to those who can’t afford it.
Thank you, Juan for being such a great volunteer!