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Diego Leibman Galvez, '24

Law and Justice on Bourbon Street

My first trip to New Orleans started with an all-nighter. I arrived late, stopping with friends for a po’boy sandwich before heading to the Airbnb to iron our outfits. By 4:00 AM, we were strolling downtown a block south of Bourbon Street.

But we weren’t there to party. New Orleans is home to the 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, and I was there to watch my boss, Nina Perales, lead the charge against the attorneys general of nine states in defense of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program allowing roughly 650,000 children and parents to remain in the United States.

Diego Leibman Galvez (right) in discussion with Nina Perales, MALDEF's vice president of litigation

There we were, sitting on the courthouse steps on a humid New Orleans summer morning, arriving early to beat out the hundreds of spectators and journalists trying to secure a seat in the courtroom. Before long, people, drums, and speeches filled the streets, clarifying the stakes in Texas v. United States.

The DACA recipients lined up were more than plaintiffs on a brief—they were real people with real lives. By listening to their stories and those of litigators like New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin and Obergefell v. Hodges attorney Doug Hallward-Driemeier, I got a unique taste of the power and potential of the law.

I spent my Cardinal Quarter in San Antonio interning with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). As an intern in a high-powered office, I eagerly consumed whatever wisdom, experience, and tasks came my way.

Before that summer, the law was foreign to me. My Cardinal Quarter fellowship empowered me to turn passion to practice, guided by the best and brightest of the legal profession. I owe a lot to Nina Perales and the whole MALDEF team. I’ll never forget that summer day in New Orleans.

Diego Leibman Galvez (he/him), '24, is majoring in history. He is president of Derechos, Stanford's Hispanic and Latinx Pre-Law Society and the Kimball Hall Representative for the Neighborhood F Council. He is also a Stanford Constitutional Law Center Undergraduate Fellow and a Yale Law School Arthur Liman Public Interest Law Fellow. Diego is originally from Sacramento, California.

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