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CPA-turned UHLC law student Acevedo secures internship with global law firm

Feb. 13, 2024 — Celeste A. Acevedo strategically aligns her legal and accounting expertise. Initially earning a master's degree and becoming a CPA, Acevedo discovered the interconnectedness of both fields during her time in public accounting.

As a 2L at the University of Houston Law Center, Acevedo serves as the External Vice President of the Latinx Law Students Association, a member of the Houston Business and Tax Law Journal, and a legal writing fellow. Acevedo also spent last summer interning at Sidley Austin LLP.

Hailing from San Antonio and influenced by a family of lawyers, Acevedo shares the law school journey with two siblings, forming a close-knit support system. She encourages aspiring lawyers to be open when exploring different career paths.

Name: Celeste A. Acevedo 
Year: University of Houston Law Center 2L 
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Name: Celeste A. Acevedo
Year: University of Houston Law Center 2L
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

What is a valuable lesson you learned at your internship with Sidley Austin in Dallas?

During my internship at Sidley Austin in Dallas, I learned to keep an open mind. I want to combine my two passions of accounting and practicing law, and I thought that meant I needed to practice corporate law. However, I had the opportunity to assist on projects for a finance group, and this firsthand experience revealed my preference for finance work. The biggest lesson is the importance of staying open-minded in your career path, as you may discover unexpected paths.

What made you decide to go to law school?

Becoming a lawyer was always in the back of my mind. I come from a family of lawyers, but I was more interested in accounting. When I was an undergrad, I would spend my summers at my dad's law office, working on cases or going to the courthouse with him.

I even supplemented my accounting curriculum with courses like media law and policy and sports law. To me, though, law and accounting were separate worlds, mutually exclusive. I just kept my foot in each area. I pursued accounting, and it was when I was working in public accounting, and working with clients who were in positions of upper management using their J.D.’s in ways that combined the two that I started envisioning myself practicing law. I had that aha moment of, I can do both, and now is the time to do it.

What made you choose UHLC?

I wanted a quality education at an institution that would support a diverse student like me. I also knew I wanted to build my career here in Texas. It made sense to move to a university such as UHLC that has a strong tie with the Texas and professional community and start building a network for a career in Texas. At UHLC, you see the strong ties the university has to the law firms and how much the legal professionals are willing to support students.

How do you feel now that you have started your journey?

It was very nerve-racking changing professions and not knowing if I made a good decision, or if it would work out in the way that I thought. Now, being halfway through law school and having the professional and educational experiences that I've had so far at UHLC, I'm thankful to be here. I am where I'm supposed to be.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of law school?

One of the most rewarding things is seeing all of your hard work come to fruition. In law school, you are constantly being challenged, and it is up to you to rise to that challenge. When you see your hard work result in a good grade, a scholarship, a job opportunity, or helping someone else, those moments are really rewarding. It solidifies that the hard work was worth it.

What would you tell an incoming or prospective student?

For incoming or prospective students, my advice would be to trust yourself and seize the present moment. When choosing an institution, prioritize finding one that will fully support you in your journey. Once you embark on this path, be prepared to work diligently. However, remember that being a law student doesn't define you entirely. Acknowledge that you bring unique qualities and value to the table beyond your academic pursuits. Don't let the challenges overshadow your individuality and the broader aspects of your life.

What are some attributes of working in accounting that have helped you in your law studies?

Working in accounting significantly contributed to my legal career. I honed my time management skills and learned to prioritize work, meet deadlines, and handle clients. The detail-oriented nature of accounting translated well into the legal field, where understanding nuances is crucial. Working in public accounting, especially during busy seasons, taught me to efficiently manage work and report to different authorities. This experience helped me navigate my legal studies, treating each course like a project with specific priorities and deadlines. The precision required in auditing, focusing on small details to form a comprehensive opinion, mirrors the approach needed in legal coursework. Additionally, my master's program and CPA exam preparation forced me to develop effective study habits, which continue to benefit me during finals season and in my overall coursework.

What is it like having siblings who also attend law school? 

Having siblings in law school and being roommates has been a unique bonding experience for us. My older brother just graduated from Thurgood Marshall School of Law, having completed the two-and-a-half-year program, similar to our dad's experience. Meanwhile, my sister is a 2L at South Texas College of Law.
 
We each have our own study techniques. My sister prefers the library, while I like my home desk setup with multiple monitors. We also share our experiences, exchange stories about courses, and professors, and sometimes even quiz each other. There's an occasional friendly competition, but overall, we support and help each other.
 
It's a blessing to witness my siblings grow and develop as professionals. Navigating the challenges of law school and meeting expectations can be tough. It's comforting to share this journey with those closest to me, who truly understand the experience.

What do you like about UHLC?

I love UHLC for two main reasons. Firstly, the people – my peers are extremely intelligent, and witnessing their strengths firsthand is inspiring. I've made lifelong friendships here. Secondly, the faculty is outstanding, and dedicated to our success. They want to see us succeed and become great practicing attorneys. You can see that through their teaching methods, practical advice, and overall academic support and encouragement.

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