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Leo Sandoval

Leonardo Sandoval

Class of 2019
Extern, Sacramento County Office of the Public Defender
President, Cannabis Law Association
Secretary, Tax Law Society

Hometown: South Sacramento, CA
Undergraduate: University of Arizona
Major: Political Science/Spanish


Leonardo Sandoval grew up in an impoverished and crime-ridden area of South Sacramento. Unlike most law students, he has no anxiety about presenting evidence in front of a courtroom. "I've been in very dangerous situations so everything else pales in comparison."

Sandoval and his siblings were raised by his single-working mom who is an immigrant from Mexico. He is the first in his family to have graduated from college and the first to attend law school. He tries to know a little bit about every subject that he can.

"I'm interested in auto-racing, physics, astronomy and health science. I worked in the library and I got into reading all the medical books. It strengthens you as an attorney if you are knowledgeable about a wide variety of subject areas."

In addition to attending evening classes at McGeorge, Sandoval is externing for the Sacramento County Office of the Public Defender during fall semester.  He currently serves the President of the Cannabis Law Association and the Secretary of Tax Law Society.  He previously worked as a Summer Law Clerk at the Victims of Crimes Resource Center and served on the board for the Latino Law Students Association.

"If you come from an impoverished background and English is not your first language, it is an uphill battle to succeed. You have to work twice as hard as other people. You have to work to support yourself while you are in school."

Sandoval didn't learn how to write in English until he was an undergraduate at the university of Arizona at Tucson. The teachers at his Sacramento high school never attempted to help him with his writing.

He became inspired to practice law when he was working as a contractor for the public defender's office. Sandoval was shocked to discover that though 40% of the people who are arrested in California are of Mexican heritage or a Latin-American descent, only two attorneys for the eastern district of California were Latino. Furthermore, the public defender's office had few lawyers who could speak Spanish to communicate with their non-English speaker clients.

At McGeorge, Sandoval is appreciative of how helpful the faculty and staff are. "They are here to help you and they know that law school is a hard battle especially if you are coming from a poor background and don't have as many resources as others. I like the small school structure. I know everybody who works at McGeorge on a first name basis."

He has also enjoyed the opportunity to network with his peers who come from diverse backgrounds. "A lot of people come here who want to be politicians and who are international students. It's so wonderful to hear their stories and get their guidance."

Upon graduating, Sandoval hopes to pass the bar and is interested in working with consumer fraud. At the Victims of Crime Resource Center, he received many calls from older women who speak very little English who are targeted by predatory credit and loan companies and consequently, loose their savings. 

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