After college, Esther Mignanelli taught Spanish literacy at Academia Cesar Chavez, in St. Paul, Minn., where the student population was predominantly Hispanic from low-income immigrant families. The goal was to keep students bilingual, given that they spoke English at school and were starting to lose their native language.
I always said I was going to be a lawyer, from age 6 or 7, before I even really knew what a lawyer did. My only notion was what I saw on "Matlock." I was 20 when I graduated from college, and I needed time to grow up a little. My professors and supervisors encouraged me to pursue my dream, so that's how I came full circle after a couple of years.
What sold me on Chicago-Kent was visiting classes and seeing how invested the professors were in their students. I think that's invaluable in this market. When you have people on your side who want to see you succeed, doors open in ways you can't necessarily plan. The Moot Court Honor Society was one of the best things I've done in law school, hands down. Developing an appellate brief and argument, standing up before a panel, fielding really challenging questions, knowing you're going to be thrown off your game but still persevering, is really exciting.
I just accepted an offer from a Pittsburgh firm, Babst Calland, for next year. I worked as an associate for them this summer. I'm geographically flexible and, thankfully, so is my husband. The city is a perfect fit for us, and the firm has an encouraging, challenging environment. They do a lot of environmental and energy work, so I'd like to get involved in environmental litigation.