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Transactional Practice Alumnus Champions Experiential Learning

Home Law School News Transactional Practice Alumnus Champions Experiential Learning

Gaspar Gonzalez ’21 is an associate attorney for Wilson Cribbs + Goren — one of the largest real estate practice firms in Houston — and the youngest member of STCL Houston’s Transactional Practice Advisory Board.

As a second-career student, Gonzalez chose to pursue law after a family emergency made him realize he needed more flexibility  than his first career in education provided. He left his position of five years as a band director and applied to law school.

While visiting the South Texas campus for a prospective students meet-and-greet, he was introduced to Professor John Worley and several others who made him feel like STCL Houston was where he was supposed to be. He recalls that everyone really wanted to help him succeed and students and alumni spoke highly of professors.

He decided to focus on earning the certificate in transactional law while in school. Designed for students interested in pursuing legal careers representing clients in planning, negotiating, structuring and documenting business transactions, the certificate track exposes students to advanced business legal doctrine and practice and intensive, practice-oriented instruction. The curriculum and hands-on learning resonated with Gonzalez, and he dove into the program.

“As a first-generation law student, I was eager for mentorship and advice,” he said. “I took a Property Law class with Professor Festa, and he helped me focus on what I wanted to do. He gave me information about practicing in real estate and encouraged me to apply for an internship with Derek Pershing ’13 — even making an introduction and recommending me for the position. After that, I took every class I could related to real estate, transactions and land use. I wanted to make it impossible for a firm to say no to hiring me.”

As a 2L, Gonzalez landed an internship at Wilson Cribbs + Goren, his top pick in the on-campus interview program, and he was later asked to return for a second semester.

Gonzalez also was the first Hispanic law student to be elected editor-in-chief of South Texas Law Review  in nearly 100 years. “Lots of students want to get in and get out of law school, but these programs and organizations helped me build a network and community that helped me feel connected and set me up for success,” he said.

One of Gonzalez’s favorite parts of the Transactional Practice program was getting to network with transactional professionals, many of whom were South Texas alumni looking to hire qualified candidates. Professor Worley provided him with recommendations and connections, in addition to providing Gonzalez a push toward the Real Estate Transactional Skills class — taught by Pershing.

Connections are essential, as Gonzalez learned. Pershing originally hired Gonzalez as an intern at the recommendation of another STCL Houston professor, Matthew Festa.

“Once I got into the higher-level transactional classes, I realized a lot of them are taught by alumni,” Gonzalez said. “It was so cool that I got to do an internship for and take a class taught by my future boss — who works at Wilson Cribbs + Goren.”

Gonzalez had high praise for his experience in the transactional practice certificate program, and he encouraged students to check into it. “Some students graduate one or two classes short of completing the certificate because they don’t realize they already meet many of the requirements,” he said.

“I’m working with other young alumni on the advisory board to help with this now,” Gonzalez said. “Ninety-five percent of the courses for the certificate are also required Bar courses, so most students are taking them anyway.”

His encouragement to students is to coordinate with Professor Worley to tailor a plan because the program is versatile.

Gonzalez was drawn to the Transactional Certificate Advisory Board is to help promote the program to current and future students. “The Transactional Practice program is incredibly strong, and graduates are getting top-tier job offers and stepping into successful business law careers.”

To help spread the word about the transactional practice certificate, Gonzalez and other alumni plan to attend student group meetings and on-campus events. They hope to raise awareness and encourage current students to network with more transactional attorneys in various industries.

Gonzalez’s advice to current students is to “try a little bit of everything to figure out what you like. Take different types of classes and pay attention to what you enjoy. There are many more legal roles than the person who stands up in court. Keep searching until you find what feels right for you.”

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