DLGBTBA Scholarship Recipient: Larisa Maxwell

Get to know Larisa Maxwell. Larisa received the very first DGLBA Scholarship Award. She is a student at Texas Wesleyan/Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth.  Larisa writes:

In a recent class, I was asked to determine a legal identity of fewer than seven words that would describe my future law practice. This seemingly simple task proved a challenge, in part, I believe, as my legal career interests are still varied. But, I gave it my best shot:

“Civility. Integrity. Equality.”

Though broad, I believe it sums up my approach to life in general, as well as reflects a valiant goal for the legal community as a whole. I hope to join others in our profession who exemplify these traits.

Not long ago, I completed my bachelor’s degree in applied behavior analysis and my master’s degree in behavior analysis, both at the University of North Texas. As a Behavior Analyst, I worked with individuals with developmental disabilities and psychological disorders, primarily in public schools, but also briefly in private clinics and at a rehabilitation center for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. In addition to providing direct services, my work included behavior intervention plan development and staff and parent training.

Though I found this work rewarding, I decided it was time to take my advocacy to a different level. As I was looking for a new job in the field, it occurred to me that I should survey alternate careers as the behavior analyst jobs that interested me required more physical activity than I would be able to maintain until retirement. A legal career allows me to continue my role as an advocate. So, I put in a last minute registration for the last LSAT exam that would allow me to start the following fall, and thus began my law school experience at what is now Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth.

Looking back, there are many signs of me gearing towards our profession, though I did not attend to them. The most notable among them is after I told my girlfriend about this crazy “new” career idea I had, she pointed out that I had mentioned it on our first date—several months before I considered a career change! I guess the idea had been brewing for longer than I thought.

Law school has had its expected ups and downs. One of my favorite adventures was as the President of OUTlaw, our LGBT-ally student organization. Last year, we planned several LGBT-related speaking engagements that were among the most highly attended events of the year, and our group grew to a record membership level. The events enlightened many people on the state of the law for LGBT individuals, and I believe the events made a positive impact.

I have several broad areas of career interest including: civil rights, education law, employment discrimination, and disability rights. I particularly like working with members of the LGBT community and hope to specialize, at least to some extent, on legal issues that affect our community.

In my 1L year, I joined the DGLBA to meet other LGBT legal professionals. I have appreciated how DGLBA members welcome students to their CLEs and socials. It has certainly exposed me to a variety of areas of the law, as well as helped forge some good friendships.

In my free time, I like to cook, camp, hike, kayak, and spend time with my dogs and my family. In particular, I enjoy trying new vegetarian and vegan recipes, and I recently found a love for baking. Every once in a while, I get this wild idea that someday I will perfect my vegan baked goods recipes and sell my goodies out of local coffee shops. For now, my taste testers certainly do not mind most of my experiments!