Zachary Sides is a second-year law student and vice president of Iowa Law's Hispanic and Latinx Law Students Association (HLLSA). Zach is extremely proud of his heritage and through HLLSA he’s working to help promote, encourage, and increase the number of Hispanic and Latinx individuals in the legal field and to enhance their legal education.
Zach is also involved in the Journal of Corporation Law and First-Generation Lawyers (FGL) student organization. After law school, he would like to pursue a career in corporate and real estate law.
We spoke with Zach to learn more about his family and what it means to be a Latino lawyer.
What does your Hispanic/Latino heritage mean to you?
I think my heritage has a lot to do with family. In general, being proud of my family and remembering all of the people that have sacrificed and worked really hard to get my family to the place they are in now. And it's just keeping those sacrifices and that hard work in mind, just so I can have a similar mindset to advance myself moving forward. I think it’s just really keeping that heritage in mind as a driving force to better myself.
How has your background shaped or inspired your career aspirations?
I am most proud of my grandfather and my grandmother. They came from a very poor area of New Mexico, and they did not have a lot of resources available at their disposal, but they were able to go to college and get their master's degrees and send both of their kids to college, one of them being my mother. I’m very proud to see where they started and how they were able to, by perseverance alone, get to where they are and get my family to where they are in just one generation.
My mom would always encourage me to do my best in everything I do. And just because of the experiences they had growing up or that our family previously had, they always acted as a striving force behind me to be my best and always succeed, and just try to do everything in my power to accomplish things that people in my family couldn’t. I think that is what has inspired me to persevere through school, go to law school, and try to be the best student I could be. In all aspects of my life, I just try to succeed.
What does your role as a future lawyer mean to you?
I want to be a role model for those who have a similar background to me. I did not know a lot of attorneys. There aren’t a lot of attorneys in my family. Being able to provide some guidance to those in a similar situation means a lot.
Accomplishing the standards my family set out for itself is a huge achievement of mine. Meeting those standards and making them proud of the things I do. That is a huge part of my role as a lawyer. I also want to be able to create some sort of resources and create change so there is more Hispanic and Latino representation in the professional. Being in that role means a lot to me.
What advice would you give to an aspiring Latino lawyer?
Through my time in school and law school, I have seen the importance of having a great mentor. Having a good mentor is so important. They can give you advice and perspective, a shared perspective that you probably have, and they know where you were. Having that guidance and a person you can go to is so important. That’s a big reason why I joined HILLSA. I was looking for someone with a similar background that could provide some insight into the whole law school experience and help me navigate the law school process. Putting yourself out there and seeking out a mentor will do wonders for you.