×
STUDENT PROFILE B. Alvarez

Fearless founder

First-generation law student B. Alvarez aims to be a community-minded lawyer in everything she does

When B. Alvarez received the 2019 Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois, she brought her grandpa to the awards dinner—and he spent all night taking pictures of the event. “He said, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever be in a building this nice again,’” says Alvarez. “And I said, ‘What do you mean? I’m going to have a really great job. You’re going to be in buildings like this all the time.’”

Alvarez’s personal history constantly shapes her goal of becoming a community-minded lawyer. Here she talks about three experiences that have influenced her law career so far.

Eyes Open 

As a senior at Oberlin College, Alvarez says a semester in a border studies program in Tucson, Arizona, opened her eyes to the history of United States and Latin American relations. She learned about Operation Streamline, a Homeland Security process in which 20 or more people are shackled together for their criminal proceedings and quickly tried one by one. “People meet their attorneys an hour before the proceeding,” says Alvarez. “There’s a need for attorneys who want to do that work. And I was like, ‘I want to help fill that need.’” 

 

Alvarez founded First Generation Law Students, an organization focused on empowering students at Loyola’s School of Law.

At Loyola, Alvarez jumped into serving clients right away through initiatives like the Business Law Clinic (BLC). “All of my clients in the BLC are people of color, which is empowering to me,” she says. “I love knowing that I am helping minorities start the businesses of their dreams or starting organizations that are fulfilling the needs they see in their community.” She also volunteers with Instituto de Progreso Latino on Chicago’s South Side, helping immigrants apply for American citizenship.

Learning from Mentors 

When Illinois Appellate Justice Jesse G. Reyes saw Alvarez’s application for the Judicial Internship Opportunity Program, his office reached out for an interview and hired her on the spot. Alvarez spent summer 2019 researching criminal law cases and observing the way Reyes runs his office. “He is someone who is selfless when it comes to his time,” she says. “There were always people visiting—law students interning at other places, or high school students he’s invited to the courtroom so they can see what it looks like.” 

Interning with Reyes showed Alvarez how pro-bono, community-minded work functions in the real world. She also saw firsthand the importance of diversity in politics. In fact, Alvarez was so inspired by her time with Reyes that when her internship ended, she volunteered with his campaign for the Illinois Supreme Court. 

“Reyes is sharing his story about the fact that he came from a blue-collar family,” she says. “People talk about how representation matters, and he really embodies that.”

Giving Back 

When Alvarez began at Loyola as a first-generation law student, she didn’t know what to expect. She was surprised by things like the cost of books and the competitive nature of law school. She says that students who grew up around lawyers have a jump start on knowledge as simple as interview etiquette and what to wear in a courtroom. 

“A lot of the conversations I was having with fellow first-generation students were like, ‘I wish I knew. How was I supposed to know this?’” she says. “Some people come into law school not knowing one attorney.”

Her solution? Alvarez founded First Generation Law Students, an organization chartered by Loyola in January 2020. So far, plans include speed-networking events, first-generation student convocation, and dinners, and a summer program for first-generation students. She also organized Loyola’s first panel of first-generation students speaking to first-generation incoming students at orientation. 

“[First-generation students] always feel like we’re behind—or we just experience imposter syndrome in general,” she says. “But we’re all here. We’re all sitting in the same seats.”


			CTA

As a student in Loyola’s Business Law Clinic, you will have the opportunity to develop essential lawyering skills in a professional, interactive live-client environment. You will work under the direct supervision of licensed attorneys to represent entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as individuals who are seeking legal assistance with not-for-profit organizations. Learn More