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April 7, 2020 at 11:06 am

Happy Beginnings | Erika Hidalgo Plans to Pursue Social Justice Legal Career

Erika Hidalgo, portrait

Erika Hidalgo

The Happy Beginnings series features College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

Erika Hidalgo’s experiences at Ohio University helped solidified what she wants to do in the future, which is to become a lawyer to work for social justice.

is a senior Sociology-Criminology major with a minor in African American Studies and a certificate in Law, Justice, and Culture. Upon graduation, Hidalgo plans to study for the LSAT and apply to attend law school in the fall of 2021.

“I was drawn to the LJC certificate program because I have always been interested in the legal system. And since I want to go to law school, I knew this program would broaden my perspectives on law. I was also drawn to the selective nature of the program, knowing that law schools would be attracted to its competitive admissions process.”

Her time within the Center for Law, Justice & Culture has been helpful in her path toward law school because it provided opportunities for her to learn about programs such as the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. That organization works to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals in the state of Ohio. OIP also maintains undergraduate advocacy networks at universities across Ohio, OIP-u.  OIP-u at Ohio University hosts speakers and raises awareness around wrongful convictions throughout the school year.  This year, Hidalgo served as vice president of the organization.

Her time as vice president at OIP-u has helped her grow as a leader. She met students interested in the same areas as herself as well as exonerees such as Raymond Towler, who spent 29 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. She was also able to work closely with Pierce Reed, Esq., an OHIO alum who serves as program director for policy, legislation and education at the Ohio Innocence Project.

This summer, she gained experience working in courtrooms, helping to pioneer the OHIO-Franklin County Municipal Court Interpreting/Translation Internship. Hidalgo wrote journals about the court cases with interpreters, worked on a legal terminology project, and wrote a reflection. She also got to spend time with some of the judges, attorneys and interpreters at the court.

“I am most grateful for all of the people I have had the opportunity to connect with and learn from during my time at OHIO. CLJC Pre-Law Advisor Larry Hayman, Esq. especially has helped answer law school questions and guide students like me.” Hayman, she says, helped her understand the LSAT process and how the law school application process works. CLJC also provided her with opportunities to explore legal education and legal careers by hosting events such as CLJC’s annual Pre-Law Day program and Law Fair. She also gained valuable experience taking practice LSATs through the center’s LSATurday program.

Hidalgo’s favorite course within the certificate was SOC 3660: Punishment and Society with Dr. Nicole Kaufman. The course explores the history of punishment, prison organization, and the effectiveness of penal institutions.

“This class was eye-opening and I learned a lot about how our past legal system dealt with punishment and how it has progressed throughout history,” Hidalgo said.

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