Marcos Resendiz was working on the free legal advice desk at Chicago’s Daley Center, through the Pro Bono Program at The John Marshall Law School. One man called, as many did, seeking help as he faced losing his home to foreclosure. Chicago native Resendiz did his best to answer the man’s questions.
“At the end, he told me that he was very grateful for the help I’d given him, because his alternative was to kill himself,” Resendiz said. “That’s when I realized: this is what I want to do.”
Resendiz attended John Marshall because he was interested in social justice, which became the focus of his studies. But the assurance that law school was the right place for him came outside of the classroom, in the law school’s multiple venues for hands-on work.
Resendiz was a clinical student not only in John Marshall’s Pro Bono Program, but also its Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, the Fair Housing Legal Clinic and the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic. Through the law school’s Restorative Justice course, he became an intern at the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois’s reentry program for ex-offenders, Second C.H.A.N.C.E.
The son of Mexican immigrants, Resendiz grew up in Pilsen, a predominantly Latino neighborhood on Chicago’s Lower West Side. At an early age, he became aware of discrimination and unequal justice, and his desire to help the frequently underserved members of his community guided him towards law school. It wasn’t a straight path, and Marcos is typical of many John Marshall students who have acquired significant life experience before enrolling, as well as holding a job while attending classes.
Resendiz calls John Marshall Professor Michael Seng, founder and co-executive director of the Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Clinic, a mentor. Seng has been teaching for almost 40 years, and describes Resendiz as “one of the most enthusiastic students I’ve ever had. He takes the initiative and has a real sense of giving back to the community. I admire him. He’s an example of what a John Marshall student can do. We have a lot of opportunities for students here, and he has certainly taken advantage of them.”
Resendiz plans to provide legal help to those in need within the Spanish-speaking community. “I want to do work – not to leave a mark, but to be effective,” he said. “I’m confident I’ll be fine with whatever I choose. I get that confidence from John Marshall.”