Weston County women enter the legal profession

By: 
Hannah Gross

Hannah Gross

NLJ Correspondent

 

Despite Weston County’s small population, talent can easily be found. Three of these talents are the graduates who recently passed the bar exam at the University of Wyoming and received their law degrees. 

Shelby Hughes and Kristina Mireles both graduated from Newcastle High School, while Dani Esquivel graduated from Upton High School. Each young lady has a different idea of what she wants to do with her degree. 

 “My next step will be to explore career opportunities and commit to a position as an associate attorney,” said Hughes, who added that she started searching for attorney job openings as soon as she passed the bar exam.  

Mireles is working as a staff attorney for the Civil Legal Services Clinic in Laramie, doing pro bono civil work. Pro bono is a Latin phrase meaning “for the public good.”

“I’m thankful for the chance to provide low-cost legal services for Wyoming. I’m not sure where I’ll be in the next few years. I’m very seriously considering the JAG program for the Air Force.” Mireles said.

Esquivel’s future plans differ greatly from that of Mireles and Hughes. She stated that she received her Master of Business Administration degree and aims to focus primarily on business in her career, such as corporate social responsibility, but she is also considering international law and human rights law. 

A memorable experience for Esquivel was the chance to go to Southeast Asia, through a grant provided by the university, after her first year of law school, working for a nongovernmental organization for human rights. 

 “It was really cool,” Esquivel said.

In her second year of law school, Esquivel went to Kenya and Uganda as a research assistant for her human rights professor, who Esquivel said was one of her “biggest influencers” throughout law school. She worked for the International Human Rights Clinic, specifically for women’s rights and maternal mortality.

Something Esquivel said she learned during law school was that people should use their given opportunities to help and give to others, which is what she experienced in Africa and Southeast Asia. 

Helping others is also important to Hughes, who noted that it was the reason she went to law school. 

“I decided to pursue a law degree because I want versatility in my career choice and future. A law degree allows me to contribute to society in many useful ways, in addition to being an attorney.” Hughes said.

However, passing the bar exam wasn’t an easy task, and all three women said they had someone giving them support throughout law school. 

“My family has been the biggest support system I could imagine, from helping me financially to listening to teary phone calls during finals week. Thanks, Mom and Dad!” Mireles said. 

Esquivel also said that her mom supported her a lot during school, even with Esquivel’s spontaneous trips Africa. 

In the county elections this year, only two candidates ran for Weston County attorney. When asked if she would ever move back and run for County attorney, each graduate gave a similar response.

All three don’t plan on running for office anytime soon, but Esquivel, who plans on doing defendant-related work rather than criminal justice, thought it was still worth considering, noting that the community of Upton helped bring her to where she is at today.

Hughes likewise thanked her community, and said she could see herself moving back to Weston County.

“Weston County and Newcastle will always be considered home to me, so it is not unexpected that I may return someday. I made it to where I am today in large part due to the support I received and continue to receive from the Newcastle community, especially from the teachers who sparked and encouraged my enduring love for school and learning. Thank you to everyone who has looked out for me and aided me on my academic journey. I am truly blessed to have that same support from the community as I go forward in my professional career. Go Dogies!” Hughes said.

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