Los Defensores Posted: August 8, 2017

Los Defensores hosts an annual scholarship for Latino law students who intend to serve their community in California. While Latino’s make up more than one-third of the state’s population, only 6% of California attorneys are Latino. Our $5,000 scholarship award goes a long way to help support students with their school fees, books, and other educational expenses.

To be considered, students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 were required to complete the application form, and submit supporting documents including a resume, official transcript, and letter of recommendation from someone in the legal community. A personal statement of up to 1,000 words detailing their personal background, service to their community, and financial need was also required.


The four winners of the Los Defensores Spring 2017 Scholarship were:

Nelly Chavez (UC Davis School of Law)

Paul Monge-Rodriguez (Berkeley School of Law)

Joanna Torres (Berkeley School of Law)

Jeffrey Vides (UCLA School of Law)


Each winner has already demonstrated impressive achievements within the Latino community, and will use their scholarship reward to ease the burden of their law school tuitions.

Chavez completed her undergraduate education at the University of Southern California, graduating Magna Cum Laude.  During her time at USC, she served as a Spanish language interpreter for the USC Law School Immigration Clinic and worked as an English Teaching Assistant in Madrid, Spain for the Fulbright Student Program – Instituto Doctor Marañón. She has also worked for Legal Aid as a student counselor and at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board as a law clerk.

Monge-Rodriguez received his B.A. Summa Cum Laude from the University of California, Santa Barbara and received a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University. “When I reflect on the experience of being the first in my family to receive a college education, and of overcoming the obstacles that inhibit so many immigrant families, I am filled with a sense of responsibility to use my education to expand the rights and opportunities of other low-income and immigrant Latino families.”

Torres received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley where she was awarded for her work in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), AmeriCorps- JusticeCorps and participated in the UCLA Law Fellows Program. She says that as a recipient of this scholarship, it will provide her an incomparable law school experience of being able to, for once, fully dedicate her time to academic pursuits and to serve as a resource to her community.

Vides graduated from Stanford with a B.A. and now serves as Managing Editor of the UCLA Law Review, Chief Managing Editor of the Chicana/o-Latina/o Law Review, Co-Chair of the Workers’ Rights Group, Legal Clinic, and Treasurer of the La Raza Law Students Association. Learning what his parents endured upon coming to the U.S. has proven instrumental in fueling his desire to enter the legal field. “I felt that I could serve as a bridge to those legal resources that my parents and our community never understood how to access or never had the opportunity to access.”

Congratulations to these four dynamic law students!

Students who are interested in applying next time can monitor our website for more information about the Fall 2017 scholarship, including application criteria and deadline.