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LEGAL

Women in Law

By Adriana Cara and Meagan E. Garland

Empowering women of color to blaze their own trails in the legal profession We are proud and honored to have established our minority-and-womenowned law firm, Cara & Garland APLC during a pivotal chapter in American history. The backdrop of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic and prophetic “I Have a Dream” speech, the historic presidency of the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama; and a Supreme Court that has on its distinguished bench the nation’s first-ever Latina Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, is humbling and invigorating. As women of color — MexicanAmerican and Cape Verdean-American/African-American — our place in this special chapter brings into sharp focus what it truly means to be a minority-and-women owned law firm: An Opportunity to Underscore Excellence Owning our own law firm provides us the opportunity to highlight the fact

Meagan Garland

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that clients do not have to sacrifice excellence for diversity among their legal counsel. Women of color are who we are, but excellence, backed by a proven track record of success and practical knowhow, is what we provide. We have thrived and excelled at some of the largest, most well-respected law firms in the nation and the world, and are able to provide the same quality of service those firms offer, and to the same clientele, but customized to meet the specific needs of our clients, and at affordable rates. On top of our commitment to excellence, we have the benefit of our multi-dimensional perspective as women of color. Indeed, the tenacity we bring to our zealous representation of our clients is informed in part by the fortitude, legal acumen, and academic gravitas we have had to demonstrate to shatter the ceilings we have encountered. A Platform from Which to Serve as Change Agents: Before we partnered to launch Cara & Garland we both served as change agents and ceiling breakers in our respective lives and practices. We have had the experiences of appearing in court and being mistaken for the court reporter, the assistant to the lawyer who must be on his way, the defendant, or the asylum applicant in a pro bono case — instead of the lawyer handling the matter. We have had the experiences of being treated with less respect than our other colleagues of the bar simply because of our color and sometimes our gender, or sometimes both. It may come as a surprise to some, but we have also had the experience of being mistreated and marginalized by other women who

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publicly advocate for the advancement of women and women of color, but who behind closed doors seek to strategically oppress these same women for their own advancement and personal gain. Fortunately, our story does not end there. We have had the gratifying experience of commanding respect notwithstanding the preconceived notions and machinations of others by way of our legal acumen and our determination to blaze our own trail. When we joined forces, it was only natural for us to look for ways to improve the legal community on a larger scale. We feel humbled and blessed, but most of all we feel an awesome responsibility to make those who came before us proud. We are living a reality that many of our ancestors could only dream, and we owe them a duty to give our best to our clients daily, and actively to assist other women of color who desire to pursue this path. We have purposed to never be a stumbling block to another sister in the struggle, but rather, a tangible re-

Adriana Cara

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