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I Was the First. You Can Be a Lawyer Too!
By:  Sara Giddings

TYLA recently launched its signature project for the 2016-2017 bar year—I Was the First. You Can be a Lawyer Too! Funded by a Texas Bar Foundation grant, this project features a diverse group of first-generation lawyers who have made significant contributions to Texas and the nation. The project features first-generation lawyers, both living and deceased, including Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court; Herbert Choy, the first Asian American to serve on the federal bench; and Barbara Jordan, the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate.  

By featuring these firsts, TYLA hopes to inspire a generation of young people to pursue a career practicing law irrespective of their sex, race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. The website, features documentary-style videos detailing the path of 15 individuals who became attorneys, were pioneers, and went on to make significant contributions at the state and national levels. The featured individuals are inspiring and highlight that no matter the background an individual can achieve remarkable things.

Through I Was the First. You Can Be a Lawyer Too!, TYLA wants to let young people know that a legal education is accessible to all students, no matter their background. In addition to the featured individuals having diverse backgrounds, several of them are included in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, standards set for public schools in Texas. The goal being this project can be used as an educational tool throughout the schools in Texas. It is our hope that this project inspires the younger generation to dream the impossible dream and to realize that no matter the obstacles facing them that they too can become a lawyer and can make an impact on our society. 

In TYLA’s pursuit of inspiring the next generation of young lawyers, I myself have been inspired. This project has shown me that no matter the obstacles or difficulties that I face, I can persevere and achieve my dreams. I encourage you to check out the website and to share the project with your local affiliates and your schools. Let’s inspire the next generation with the powerful stories featured on I Was the First. You Can Be a Lawyer Too!

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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