Arc Fellow Neida Morales hopes to advance equal opportunity in the legal profession

Feb 07, 2024 | Belonging & Access

by Lindsay Wilcox

Neida Morales, a young Hispanic woman with long dark-brown hair and brown eyes wearing a blush-colored blazerTexas native Neida Morales recently received an Arc to Justice fellowship through the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s Arc to Justice program, which provides full-tuition scholarships to high-achieving first-year law students who have overcome significant obstacles in life. Born in Mexico, Morales moved to the United States just a few months later and grew up on a cattle ranch near Alpine, Texas, in the western corner of the state.

“I come from a background where the highest level of education was middle school. Coming from an immigrant family, it was always instilled in me that I have to better myself because there are so many opportunities in the United States that should not be taken for granted,” Morales says.

Since age 12, Morales says she knew law school was the right choice for her.

“I’ve always had a passion for helping others and meeting people from different backgrounds,” she says. “Further, my desire to go to law school grew when I realized how underrepresented Hispanic students are in law schools across the nation.”

When she began looking at law schools after earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, Morales says Utah Law was a top choice because it had one of the highest bar passage rates in American Bar Association-accredited law schools.

“What stood out to me about S.J. Quinney when applying for law schools was the many opportunities for students to be involved. I liked that the school offers the Pro Bono Initiative program and various legal clinics,” Morales says. “The professors and deans truly want us to succeed. I like that every day I am excited to go to class, because the professors make class enjoyable and they really care about the students.”

Though time management has been a challenge in law school for Morales—she says it’s difficult to know when to put the book down and make time for exercise and eating something nutritious—getting through the first semester has made the curriculum and schedule more clear.

“I wish I had known more about the format of the exams before the semester started and not to wait until a month before finals to start outlining and reviewing the classes,” Morales recalls. “There is always room for improvement, so moving forward, I know what I can improve on.”

Morales says she is passionate about advancing equal opportunity in the legal profession and within law firms, and her goals after law school reflect this passion.

“I have a strong desire to make a difference in my community, whether it be through pro bono work or helping businesses advance their goals. After law school, I aspire to specialize in mergers and acquisitions, private equity, or oil and gas law in Dallas,” she says. “Eventually, I would like to become partner at a law firm. It is also a goal of mine to start an organization that will provide scholarships to first-generation Hispanic law students.”

She is also grateful for support from the Arc to Justice program, which also provides Arc fellows mentoring and summer employment opportunities after their 1L year.

“What excites me the most about receiving the Arc to Justice award is that one day, I will be able to pay it forward to students like me. It is a gift that keeps on giving,” Morales says.