Profiles: Clarissa Michel

Clarissa Michel

Clarissa Michel

JD 17

Awaiting CA Bar Results

Tell me something special or interesting about your background before you went to law school?

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NYC. I studied business management and philosophy, politics, and law at Binghamton University in upstate New York. After undergrad, I worked as an assistant store manager in NYC before moving from NYC to SF. While in SF she worked in the banking industry before deciding that I would be able to be of more help to people as an attorney.

I use to do volunteer work through Big Brothers/Big Sisters & American Express in NYC. I worked at soup kitchens in NYC in the meat-packing district. Listening to people's stories of how they ended up homeless in NYC was a heart-breaking experience and I still gets choked up remembering some of their stories. I loved the work because even though I didn't have money to give them, the time and compassion I gave them made me feel like I was doing good work.

I miss the Brooklyn of my childhood. I miss the pizzerias that I used to go to when I was a kid. When I was a kid in the summertime, we used to crank the "pump" and play in the sprinkler all day long. That would NEVER happen again because everyone's more environmentally conscious; but I miss that experience!

Why did you decide to go to law school?

The volunteer work I did in NYC with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, American Express, and soup kitchens, made me realize that I wanted to have a career where I could help people from different backgrounds. It has become important to me to have the sort of legal job that allows me to give back to my community and to help people who would not normally have access to legal services.

Tell me something special or interesting about your law school experience.

The Women's Employment Rights Clinic (WERC) was really great for me. My first client was so in need of legal assistance that I wanted to go above and beyond to help her. In fact, I felt humbled to be able to help. There were so many things about the client's background that reminded me of my own family's experience when they came to this country. At the end of the day, the work was incredibly rewarding and I now may consider continuing to work in employment law.

What is your greatest source of motivation/support as you work towards your JD?

Definitely my family and my fiancé. I was a first-generation college graduate and the first member of my family to even think about going to law school. I have younger siblings and want to be the best possible role model for them. My decisions and life choices affect the way that they see the world and I want to lead by example in hopes that they continue with their own educational pursuits.

What is your favorite thing you do when you are not at law school?

SLEEPING! Although I do not do it that often, I am working on getting my diving certification and try to escape to Hawaii to dive when I can. I love hiking and enjoy the Tamalpais area for short day trips (that I do not get to take nearly often enough).

What message/advice do you have for your fellow law students?

I have so much respect for my fellow students who are taking this journey alongside me. To prospective students, I would say, yes, Law school is hard, it's tough. But, don't forget your life before law school. It's the people around you that make this experience possible. Maintain your relationships because they matter.

If not in law school right now, what would you be doing?

I would have been a dentist! Maybe working in pediatric dentistry. But, in the end, the tools are tiny and I am not that good with my hands. So, law school it is!

About the interviewer: Corey Farris is an adjunct professor and law career counselor for the School of Law. When not at work, she can be found volunteering with the One Justice Bus and with Asian Pacific Islanders Legal Outreach (APILO) or making soap from her kitchen in the Excelsior District of San Francisco. Corey graduated from GGU and worked as a civil associate and public defender for 9 years before finding her way back to Golden Gate. She lives in the City with her husband Paul and their two 100% spoiled rescue cats.