Rose Rivera (JD ’09) built the Center for Legal Justice from a model she’d been quietly hatching for years.
Rivera entered law school intending to eventually join a well-established nonprofit in Chicago, such as LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), and settle into the city.
When that didn’t pan out, she turned to a world of possibilities. She took the opportunity to move to Indiana and pursue her LL.M. in International Human Rights at Notre Dame. Rivera also tested the waters abroad, completing an internship at the International Criminal Court in Holland, but concluded that she wanted to work in the United States.
Deciding to stay in the area, at least temporarily, Rivera applied for a job as an immigration attorney at the Just Help: Elkhart County Legal Advocacy Center in Goshen, Indiana. She was hired in August 2010 and eventually promoted to executive director and lead attorney, inheriting 200 cases relating to family law. She spent three years with the organization at its Goshen location, during which she says she got a crash course in family law. When the center uprooted to Elkhart, Indiana, it served as the first legal immigration service in the South Bend area, aside from Catholic Charities. In Elkhart, a factory town with a large immigrant demographic, Rivera recognized a serious need for local immigration attorneys.