Ignacio Jaureguilorda (’02) went right to work in the HIV/AIDS field in his first job out of law school. He secured a staff attorney position at the AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC) in 2002. A few years later, he went to Housing Works, another HIV/AIDS services organization in New York City.
Then, ten years after his first job with ACQC, he returned to the same organization as its director of legal services.
“I continue to work on issues that affect poor people living with HIV/AIDS in New York City,” says Jaureguilorda. That includes representing clients who need free civil legal services on civil rights matters, housing, government benefits, immigration, and more.
To Jaureguilorda, what’s impressive about his clients are their strength and dedication to pursue justice and make a difference, not only for their own lives but also for others.
Consider a discrimination case he had at Housing Works, advocating for people who receive emergency shelter benefits from the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA). He argued that his client could not be discriminated against if he was already receiving benefits for more permanent housing. The client won the case.
“It not only served to vindicate the client living with HIV/AIDS who had been repeatedly discriminated against when he had been looking to rent an apartment,” he says, “but it also gave notice to real estate brokers and landlords that this type of harassment would not stand.”
What has been most fulfilling to Jaureguilorda—even more than impact litigation—is one-on-one work with clients, representing them and defending their rights.
“There is tremendous satisfaction in being able to resolve an issue that perhaps they would not have been able to accomplish on their own, to know that you have been able to ease someone’s anxiety and stress level,” says Jaureguilorda.
Making a difference for his community is something best achieved in numbers, Jaureguilorda believes. Joining forces and collaborating with others doing similar work can better effect change. At the same time, providing clients with a way to take part in the process and discussions is important.
“It has been one of my greatest personal and professional experiences to work alongside stakeholders and community members,” he says.
Jaureguilorda has been attuned to social justice issues since he was young, steeped in such values by his parents who had been exiled from Argentina for pursuing their political rights and beliefs. When it came time to consider law school, connecting with CUNY Law made the most sense.
“CUNY Law provided me with one of the best opportunities to meld a well-rounded legal education with a progressive approach to working with those most in need, and on issues that affect poor and underserved communities,” he says.
While Jaureguilorda draws inspiration from his peers who work on HIV/AIDS issues to combat injustice and inequality, he also draws strength from his clients.
“I am motivated by so many of them who continue to fight for basic rights and do so with dignity and a deep respect for their community,” says Jaureguilorda.
– Paul Lin