During the two years since she made her first Instagram post – in which she asked her followers to weigh in on how to navigate the law school application process – UCLA School of Law student Luz Murillo ’24 has emerged as a popular storyteller, sharing many of the ups and downs of her law school journey. Her Instagram page, Luz and Law, is a must-read for many future and current law students who wish to follow in her remarkable footsteps – from community college to a top law school – and Murillo is keenly aware of the power of her example.
Now in her second year at UCLA Law, Murillo is sure of many things. She wants to become a public defender. She believes access and representation can increase the amount of Latinx students who pursue and thrive in law school. And she believes storytelling – from Instagram sound bites to professional panels – is one of the best tools we have in doing just that. Here, we chat with Murillo about law school, Instagram and Women’s History Month.
This year’s Women’s History Month theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Stories.” What does storytelling mean to you?
To me, storytelling can take many forms. Storytelling happens when my friends and I hold space for each other to talk about our worries, our pasts, our dreams and so forth. Storytelling happens when I speak on a panel about my law school experience. At the end of the day, storytelling occurs whenever I speak my truth and share my lived experiences with others.
Is there something about your personal experience that motivates your storytelling?
According to the American Bar Association, only 5% of lawyers are Hispanic/Latinx, and all people of color are underrepresented in the legal field. I am at the intersection of so many identities: I am a woman of color, a first-gen college graduate and a daughter of Mexican immigrants. In order to truly diversify the legal field, people need to see representations of people who look like them or have similar stories to them. I have been an aspiring lawyer since I was a teenager, but I did not have anyone in my family or my network to connect with about this path until much later in my journey. I am motivated by the idea that someone could see a little bit of themselves in me and feel at least a bit more assured that they are capable to make their dreams come to fruition.
What made you apply to UCLA Law?
Because of UCLA Law’s celebration and appreciation for public service work and because of their Critical Race Studies program. As an aspiring public defender who will be serving communities of color, I wanted to ensure I received legal training that would push me to think critically about the intersection of race and law.
What do you like most about studying law at UCLA?
The people and this big, beautiful city! Law school is inherently a stressful environment, and I could see how law school could perpetuate a hostile social environment. In my experience, however, UCLA Law students choose to be kind and supportive to one another. My peers will share outlines and job opportunities with one another, study together and cheer each other on each step of the way. Los Angeles is also such a wonderful city to study and work in. Any day of the week, you can find live music, art, comedy, good food and even better people. I feel really grateful that my academic journey brought me to L.A.!
How do you figure out what stories you decide to share, and why do you share them on Instagram?
I think of myself as a storyteller in two very distinct ways. On one hand, I run an Instagram account called @luzandlaw, where I document my law school journey. I share about the good that happens, such as getting the internship I wanted, or about my work on the Chicanx-Latinx Law Review. But I also document the lows: when I’m feeling the effects of imposter syndrome or when I second-guess my ability to make my dreams come true. I try to be as authentic as possible in my journey because I don’t think it would be of service to anyone if I sugarcoated my experience. I want to show other young folks who might connect with me that they, too, can pursue a legal education and that they will succeed despite whatever obstacles come their way.
I choose to tell my stories on a platform like Instagram because it makes it accessible to just about anyone. Through Instagram, I’ve connected with hundreds of law students and aspiring law students all over the world. And some of these friendships have translated into in-person connections. It has fundamentally altered my law school experience for the better, and I’m really proud of the small online community that I’ve built.
I also think that my previous work within the criminal defense world was largely one of storytelling. Before law school, I worked in state habeas as a capital defense investigator for several years. Through this capacity, I worked on uncovering and telling the story of individuals on death row by conducting in-person interviews with those connected to my client or their case.
What one piece of advice would you give to others who are hoping to attend UCLA Law in the future?
Honor your journey! There is no one path to attending law school. Follow your curiosity and your passions, and they will lead you where you’re meant to go.