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Student Spotlight: Danny Alicea (’13)

November 15, 2012

After being on staff at the City University of New York Law Review, Danny Alicea (’13) now is in the driver’s seat as editor-in-chief.

“This is by far the most prominent leadership position I have ever been in. It’s really a great feeling,” he said.

Alicea has come a long way since his high school aspirations of becoming a lawyer. His first practical legal experience came after he graduated from Stonybrook University on Long Island and joined the organization Immigration Equality, which focuses on representation of LGBT clients and HIV-related immigration cases.

Danny Alicea ('13)

Danny Alicea (’13)

Alicea, who is of Puerto Rican descent, stayed on at Immigration Equality for three years, eventually becoming a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative, which permitted him to represent clients in immigration proceedings before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Still, he realized that getting a law degree would provide him with additional ways to pursue social justice.

Immigration Equality “was the definitive marker that convinced me that I needed to pursue the J.D.,” said Alicea.

Choosing CUNY Law was a natural move for the Queensborn- and-raised Alicea, who wanted to pursue advocacy and immigration law. Immigration Equality’s director, Victoria Neilson (’94), gave him an extra nudge; she had graduated from CUNY Law and encouraged Alicea to apply.

“When I did my research, I realized that CUNY Law School was the only place where I would get that focus on public interest work,” he said.

Immigration continues to be a big focus for Alicea, who interned last year at Immigration Court in Manhattan, assisting clerks and judges with assignments, such as writing up bench memos and decisions.

The internship also provided Alicea with access to Immigration Judge Noel Ann Brennan, a member of the Katzmann Immigrant Representation Study Group, which is an initiative focused on increasing the quality of pro bono representation for immigrants.

“It’s the reason I needed to meet her and go to lunch,” said Alicea. When he mentioned CUNY Law and immigration specialist Liliana Yanez to Brennan, “her eyes lit up. She had nothing but great things to say.”

That lunch helped Alicea decide on his clinic choice, the Immigrant & Refugee Rights Clinic, where Yanez is an instructor.

After law school, Alicea wants to continue advocating for vulnerable populations, including Latino and other communities of color, LGBT and HIV-positive individuals, youth, and, especially, immigrants.

For now, Alicea has plenty of work to do before graduating. That includes making his mark as editor-in-chief on the semiannual CUNY Law Review, now in its 16th year of publication.

“I feel like I’m on call 24/7 with so many players, decisions, and deadlines,” he said.

It’s a weighty responsibility, but one that is made easier by his editorial board, which Alicea has described as “talented and passionate,” with two managing editors who are “incredibly skilled and gifted,” he said.

“I do have to be accountable and be there for everyone, but it’s easy to do when you have such a great team,” said Alicea.

– Paul Lin

More from CUNY Law Magazine Fall 2012 »

 

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