Feature Category

ELAC Pathway to Law School Program Partners with Local Law Firm for Internship

July 14, 2023

By Kevin Jimenez



July 14, 2023

News Media Contact:

Kevin Jimenez, College Public Relations Manager

(323) 265-8807 | @email

ELAC Pathway to Law School Program Partners with Local Law Firm for Internship

MONTEREY PARK, CA Three East Los Angeles College (ELAC) students were selected to be interns with a local law firm. Gina Zapanta and Mike Alder of Z.A. Lawyers worked with ELAC’s Pathway to Law School professor Ken Chaiprasert to identify students for the internship.

Gina and Z.A. Lawyers created monthly real life law situations that were imbedded into the Pathway to Law School program. Students Angela Romero, Monique Ortega, and Jayro Nunez were a part of the students who completed all the monthly exercises and were the three selected by Z.A. Lawyers to start the paid internship this summer.

Gina Zapanta has close ties to ELAC and wanted to make sure this internship opportunity focused on community college students. Her father, Dr. Richard Zapanta, was born and raised in East Los Angeles and graduated from Garfield High School and ELAC before going on to receive his medical degree from USC. Dr. Zapanta built a respected legacy of philanthropy and civic leadership while also mentoring high school, college and medical students. His Legacy Fund Scholarship provides financial assistance to ELAC students each year.

“Creating opportunities for students at ELAC is our responsibility. ELAC was the foundation of my Dad and his family’s opportunity to elevate their lives and they never forgot that. ELAC has always been a big part of our family’s journey and we are honored to do our part to continue our legacy of paying it forward to create access and space for others. Seeing is believing and it’s our goal that our partnership with the Pathway to Law program accomplishes that,” said Gina Zapanta.

The interns will also be experiencing real world law problems and work. They start with an overview of the firm and then are consistently placed in high interaction spaces where they work directly with clients of Z.A. Lawyers. This helps to give the interns first hand knowledge of what different needs are required for each case.

“I joined The Pathway to Law School during one of the hardest times of my life. I had been injured at work and told my back would no longer be the same. The skills I had developed for the company in a decade became obsolete, so I came to ELAC to develop skills for myself. Since the first meeting Z.A. Lawyers had with our program, Gina’s unwavering delivery of imposter syndrome and not falling into the “victim mindset” resonated deeply with me that day. When Gina gave me my first assignment I ran with it. I was reminded of what Mike and Gina drove into us every time they came to visit, ‘occupy your space, prepare, you belong’. I wrote down everything I believed would benefit the company, and when the time came to share my thoughts; I was prepared, I shared my thoughts, and I was comfortable holding the room,” said Jayro Nunez.

“This experience has only further embedded that goal into my being. This internship, ELAC’s Pathway to Law School program, they are both intentional stepping stones that will lead me to the things I want in life. I don't want to do anything else-this is it. I can only further thank Gina, Mike and Dr. Ken for facilitating an environment and experience in which my goals are that much closer to becoming a reality,” said Monique Ortega.

Angela, Monique, and Jayro will all continue this paid internship through out the summer and continue to develop the skills need to have a career in the Law field. Z.A. Lawyers is also hopeful to continue the partnership with ELAC to in the future possibly offer this internship for college credit as well.

About ELAC Pathway to Law School
The ELAC Pathway to Law School program is designed to prepare community college students for Law School. The program demystifies law school with visits to law school classes, moot court competitions, bar events and scholarly presentations, provide students with tutoring referrals, a designated counselor and a mentor who is an attorney. The program also gives students opportunities to do internships and service learning while also networking with law students and attorneys. Learn more by visiting www.elac.edu/academics/pathway-to-law-school

About Z.A. Lawyers

Z.A. Lawyers is a multilingual law firm that serves the entire state of California and Louisiana. The co-founders are Gina Zapanta (@ginazapanta_) and Michael Alder (@mike.alder). Mike Alder is also founder of AlderLaw which has recovered over $2.5 billion for it’s clients. The firms specialize in accidents, employment disputes, work injuries and immigration. For more information, visit them zalawyers.com and AlderLaw.com.

About East Los Angeles College  

ELAC is the largest of nine two-year community colleges within the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), www.laccd.edu. More information about ELAC is available online at http://www.elac.edu/. Follow ELAC on social media, Instagram @ELACHuskies, Twitter @EastLACollege, and Facebook @Eastlacollege.