Up until the day before 1L Roberto “Luis” Estrada Maldonado arrived at BYU Law, he was working as a tax and corporate lawyer for Arias Law, a leading global business law firm with offices throughout Central America. Luis, who was born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala, is one of two international students in the class of 2024, and although this will be his second time through law school, he is excited to be here at BYU Law.
“I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer and had an interest in litigation,” Luis says. While attending law school in Guatemala, he worked as a paralegal in the litigation department of the country’s National Electric Energy Commission. After graduating, he worked in corporate law for three years before deciding to make a change. “I wanted to break into international litigation and decided to come to the United States so that I could understand both the civil and common law systems.”
Although familiar with the rigor of law school, Luis finds some of his classes to be more challenging than others. “Contracts is easier for me because I took law classes in Guatemala that touched on similar principles,” he says. “My property class is more difficult because there are principles in common law that don’t exist in the civil law system. It’s hard to get a mental concept of property that is different from the one I already have. That’s the challenge and that’s why I’m here.”
Luis says achieving balance between school and his personal life is also challenging. “I try to work out 4-5 days each week to relieve stress,” he says. “I love Olympic weightlifting. I’m not good at it, but I enjoy it, and it helps keep my mind in a healthy place.” Since moving to Utah, Luis has also been “experimenting with the outdoors” and is hoping to learn how to ski. “Usually I take Saturday’s off to do something fun, like going out with friends that I’ve met through law school. I was expecting a culture shock in certain ways, but I haven’t experienced that. Everyone is very welcoming, and we all get along really well.”
One of the things that has impressed Luis the most about being at BYU Law has been his exposure to a wide array of professional paths. “Here at BYU Law, we are encouraged to consider all the options when it comes to using our law degrees,” he says. “The Law School invests a lot in their students. I was surprised by the effort that is made to help students succeed. I have a great career advisor who wants to get to know me, to hear about my plans, and to help me land a job,” he says. “There are so many resources. I think that’s unique.”