In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), which celebrates the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States, the Texas Bar Blog connected with Guillermo Hernández III, a San Antonio-based immigration law and personal injury law attorney and District 18, Place 2 director of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. The first-generation attorney spoke about being inspired by his mother to pursue education, changing his career focus, and connecting with clients.

Tell us a little about your upbringing. Have you lived in San Antonio your whole life?
I was born and raised in the rural town of Uvalde. I am the oldest of four siblings in a Mexican American household. My mother always stressed the importance of an education and pushed us to do well in school. My mother passed away from breast cancer when I was 14 years old, so I carried that importance of education with me all my life. This eventually led to me seeking a higher education and applying to law school.

Are you the first in your family to practice law?

How did you decide on St. Mary’s?
I knew I wanted to go to law school in Texas. St. Mary’s was one of the first law schools to accept me, and they offered a good scholarship package. San Antonio is close to home—so there were a lot of positive factors pulling me to study at St. Mary’s.

How did you decide that immigration law and personal injury law were the specialties you’d focus on?
As a baby lawyer, I practiced real estate litigation with a reputable firm in San Antonio, but after a few years, I realized that was not where I felt called to practice. I had worked with the immigrant population in law school when I interned for the Equal Justice Center, a nonprofit that helps people recover unpaid wages regardless of immigration status. I loved the experience of direct representation of people who need help navigating the complex legal system in Texas and the United States. Practicing immigration and personal injury law, I have a personal connection to my clients and help them through what can be some of the most difficult and stressful situations in their lives.

Can you find a commonality in the two?
Absolutely. Both practices have a direct, personal connection to clients when I am representing them in their case. I get to walk with them through the entire process, whether it is helping them avoid deportation, reunite with a family member, or helping them recover after a car accident. Additionally, in my practice, most of my clients speak Spanish. I speak my client’s language and am from the same comunidad. This helps build trust from my clients that I am fighting their fight alongside them.

What’s something you learned in law school that has come in handy since becoming an attorney?
Overprepare. Be the person in the room who knows the most about your case, has thought of every possible scenario, and is prepared to deal with whatever happens.

What motivated you to get involved with the Texas Young Lawyers Association?
TYLA is the service arm of the State Bar of Texas. It is a great opportunity to get involved in projects that have an impact across the state both for members of the bar and the community at large. TYLA also provides a great opportunity to network and get to know lawyers throughout the state of Texas and make connections that will last an entire career.

What responsibilities do you have as a board member?
I am one of two district directors for the area of San Antonio. One responsibility is to represent young lawyers in my district with respect to ongoing projects of TYLA. I am currently serving on the Member Services Committee and the Diversity, Development, and Wellness Committee.

What are some projects you’ve been working on that you enjoy the most?
I am excited to work in the Diversity, Development, and Wellness Committee. We are currently planning a wellness retreat/conference to help attorneys find ways to deal with stress and anxiety that is a part of our profession.

What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a lawyer?
I hope to have helped people and made a difference in my clients’ lives. I hope to leave a legacy that my parents, my wife, and my children would be proud of. I hope to make the practice of law more accessible to those who come after me, especially would-be first-generation lawyers.