Q & A with Guillermo Valdeon, Incoming Legal Volunteer
What got you interested in law?
Growing up in Argentina, law was always an interest of mine. I was very involved in politics, even back when I was high school. Having a good legal background and understanding of the system would allow me to have a stronger position in that area. I was never involved in politics afterward, but the initial attraction to law certainly came from that interest.
Why did you first connect with Good Counsel?
When I learned of my required 50 hours of pro-bono work, I reached out to different contacts at Brooklyn Law School. I was referred to Good Counsel by the Director of International Programs. I did some research on my own about what Good Counsel was, and I was very interested by the work they do. I thought the project, the mission, and everything else Good Counsel does, was very interesting, and I wanted to learn more. From a legal aspect, my interests lie in US immigration law, which was my main draw to the organization. I lived here in America as a son of immigrants until the age of 13, and immigration was always a common topic with my family.
What are your goals for your work with Good Counsel?
Since I came back to the United States, I’ve been very involved in my work with social security, specifically in the processing of cases. While this work was not generally face to face, I did see how necessary a social security check was to so many people, many more than you would think. People can be marginalized by many different factors, including income disparity and immigration barriers. Back then, I was very involved in social security law. Currently I’ve moved into labor relations, but would like to continue to branch out. Working with Good Counsel to learn the ins and outs of nonprofits is the perfect opportunity for me to try something new and expand my horizons.
Can you tell us a little more about your work in social security?
I was exposed to an aspect of law that I wasn’t even aware of. I knew it existed, but I had no past knowledge on the topic whatsoever. In the United States, you have millions of people that rely on these social security and retirement checks. From a work standpoint, working in the government and learning the government culture was incredibly informative. Dealing with people and employees is sometimes the toughest task to tackle, but I think I’ve learned a lot.
Do you have any professional aspirations after passing the bar?
Yes. Passing the bar was a major obstacle to overcome, with the language legal barriers. I come from an educational system with complete different test taking methods, which often made me feel like I was starting from scratch. I feel like I’ve gone to law school twice. My professional aspirations are simple. I want to learn to work in a professional setting. I want to earn my license to practice law in two different countries. Finally, I want to take advantage of all the multicultural experiences that New York has to offer.
Have decided what area of law you would like to practice?
If you had asked me that question 10 years ago, I would have said either contractual or international law. For the past few years, I have developed a passion for immigration, and now I believe that is the kind law that I am going to practice.