Past Scholarship Winner Spotlight

Lesley Arca is the recipient of the 2011 Asian American Bar Association Law Foundation Richard A. Hwang Memorial Scholarship.  Lesley recounts her journey from law student, to a senior associate attorney at Jurisprudence Health Law Group PC and 2016 Vice-President / President-Elect for the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (FALA Chicago).




When I applied for the scholarship, I reflected on how I would not have gone to law school but for immense support from AABA’s attorneys.  I recalled attending various AABA events during the three years I worked as a Foley & Lardner paraprofessional after graduating with my bachelors of arts from Northwestern University in 2007. During that time, I was “figuring it out,” wondering what to do with my double major in Asian American Studies and Biological Sciences (without going to medical school). I observed that throughout college and before law school, I loved to volunteer for Chicago’s Asian American community as a born and raised Chicago Filipina American. AABA and Filipino American attorneys ultimately comprising FALA Chicago mentored and subjected me to various Socratic method interrogations to test my motivation to apply to law school. Ultimately, they encouraged me to apply. My dream was to return to Chicago with a practice focused on continuing to serve Chicago’s Asian American community.

When I received the scholarship as a first year law student at the University of Illinois College of Law, it felt like my journey to becoming an attorney was validated by the community that helped me and whom I likewise wanted to serve. I was so moved to receive the scholarship in front of those same attorneys who mentored me. Although it was too early to know my job prospects after law school, I knew that I could come back to Chicago and feel at home in its Asian American legal community.

Today, I am proud to say that that journey continues to hold true and I am immeasurably thankful for the support through the scholarship, AABA, and FALA Chicago. After law school, these same organizations helped me meet my mentor Michael Raiz, with whom since law school, I have been working with him and other Filipino American attorneys with the firm now known as Jurisprudence Health Law Group PC. I am fulfilling my dream of serving Chicago’s Asian American community (and putting my college majors to good use) by focusing on representing predominantly Asian American owned healthcare businesses and their beneficiaries on corporate and healthcare compliance issues, employment law, elder law, and litigation. 2017 will also mark my third year on the board for FALA Chicago as its President. Our goals include continuing to encourage pre-law students and attorneys that our organizations are a place to feel at home and obtain support throughout one’s career.

Truly, thank you to AABA and its foundation for its support over these years in addition to the 2011 Asian American Bar Association Law Foundation Richard A. Hwang Memorial Scholarship. I will continue to pay it forward.