Third-year law student, Alexander Sanchez '22, knows that success for any individual is often the result of being part of a community that works together and supports one another.
For Sanchez, it began with the close-knit community of Buffalo’s West Side, where he grew up. And now, it continues with his work with the Latin American Law Students Association and the Black Law Students Association at UB School of Law, and as he enters his second term on the Executive Board of the National Latina/o Law Student Association.
“Latinos are such a small portion of the legal community,” says Sanchez, whose family immigrated to Buffalo from the Dominican Republic. “It’s important that students have a support system—that they know they belong. We’re just trying to provide some camaraderie and help people so that they know they have a family here.”
In his role with the national group—the premier organization for law students of Latina/o descent—Sanchez serves as North Atlantic director, with responsibilities encompassing schools and students throughout the Northeast. He had the same role last academic year and made himself available to be elected to a second term because, he says, “there was a lot of work left to be done.”
Much of that work involves helping to plan NLLSA’s annual convention, which was scheduled to meet in New Orleans last year but instead was held virtually. “I try to make sure other law schools stay in touch about opportunities we can participate in, and find speakers for different events and panels,” he says. There’s a lot of messaging involved—often via Facebook and Instagram—to network with his fellow law students nationwide.
Sanchez was studying finance at Canisius College when he took a course from an adjunct professor, Erie County Family Court Judge Kevin Carter ’89 (now administrative judge for the Eighth Judicial District), who inspired him to think about law. He changed his major to criminal justice, and UB School of Law was the natural next step. “UB made the most sense,” Sanchez says. “It’s where my home and my community are.”
Even with limited in-person contact over the past 18 months, Sanchez has carried that sense of community-building to his extracurricular life at the law school. As an officer of LALSA, he’s helped introduce other students to a variety of cultures and raise awareness of the problems of immigrants and the local organizations that assist them. He also served as pre-law director of the Black Law Students Association (he identifies as both Latino and Black), supporting the parallel group that serves those in UB’s undergraduate program in law.
This summer, Sanchez served as a mentor in the law school’s Discover Law program, which opens doors for talented underrepresented undergraduates interested in law as a career. He juggled three mentees and, he says, got especially close to a student participating virtually from Puerto Rico. “I want to go to law school,” the student told him, “but I don’t want it to change me.” That led to a fruitful discussion about career and culture. “He’s a great guy,” Sanchez says, “and we could relate to each other in many ways.”
Sanchez, who has worked this summer with a boutique law firm in Buffalo doing mostly personal injury work, is open to whatever lies ahead after graduation—maybe finance, maybe a position in criminal law. “There’s a lot of different types of law that I enjoy,” he says. “I’m open to exploring anything.”