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UHLC student Sofia Winograd becomes first Latina Editor-in-Chief at the Houston Law Review

March 19, 2024 — The Houston Law Review has elected Sofia Winograd as Editor-in-Chief. The Mexico City native will be the first Latina Editor-in-Chief in the publication’s 60-year history.

Winograd’s experiences include an internship at the law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP and a judicial externship at the Southern District of Texas, deepening her understanding of and passion for the legal profession.

Now, as she prepares to take on the role of EIC, Winograd reflects on the valuable lessons she's learned along the way and the expansive opportunities that the legal profession offers.

Name: David Segal Hometown: Houston, Texas Year: University of Houston Law Center 3L

  • Name: Sofia Winograd
  • Hometown: Mexico City
  • Year: University of Houston Law Center 2L

Name: David Segal Hometown: Houston, Texas Year: University of Houston Law Center 3L

Sofia Winograd and her husband, Alec Winograd, and their puppy, Citta, repping UH.

Lunch with past Editors in Chief of the Houston Law Review (left to right: Drew Padley '20, W. Henry Legg '19, Sofia Winograd '25, Kaileigh Mallin '24 and Holton Farnum '23).

Group photo with the UHLC Class of 2025 Vinson & Elkins' Summer Associates (left to right: Scott Callaghan, Rachel Smart, Sofia Winograd, David Strumeyer, Valerie Rangel, Areeba Amer, and Carson Copeland).

You are the first Latina Editor-in-Chief of the Houston Law Review. How does this accomplishment make you feel as a member of the Latino/Latina community?

I am incredibly touched. My affinity to the Latino/a community is very high because I am a Latina through and through. I was born and raised in Mexico City and Spanish is my first language—it’s how I communicate with my loved ones back home. Growing up in Mexico City, I never thought that life would take me here. My parents always made it a point to have me learn English and enrolled me in a school that allowed me to learn it. We always saw the U.S. as this wonderful country where people could build a life and be whoever they wanted to be. My journey undoubtedly started with my parents and my older brother who believed in me, supported me, and encouraged me to learn English and do well in school.

When I arrived in the U.S., I was 18 years old and had moved to start college at UC Berkeley. During those four years in California, all the wonderful things I thought about the U.S. proved to be true. I know that it is a big country with its own problems and that I idealize it sometimes to this day. But the reality is that there is no other place I’d rather be.

I am truly thankful for every opportunity I have been given in this country, for all the people I have met, and for everything that is to come. I remember when I first started law school, I felt a little bit like an imposter because I was essentially learning the law of another country. When I expressed this to my husband, Alec, he turned to me and said, “This is your country too” and he is absolutely right, it is.

Can you explain the process of being selected as the Editor-in-Chief of the Houston Law Review?

When I joined the Law Review, I quickly realized how much I loved it. I deeply enjoyed the learning process. From cite checking articles, becoming familiarized with the Bluebook, substantiating content, and developing attention to detail, my first semester of 2L was a wonderful experience.

Aside from the day-to-day tasks of being part of the Law Review, I discovered I was passionate about being a part of a legal journal that allows legal scholars to publish new ideas and concepts related to the law. I love that this is what legal journals are about and that they are a fantastic platform for legal thinkers to write about interesting and relevant topics about the law. This, in fact, is something that is very uncommon in Mexico, for example. Law schools do not have journals like this where scholars can share their knowledge with others. Thus, the entire concept of a legal journal was—and still is—incredibly exciting to me.

In terms of being Editor-in-Chief specifically, I was lucky to have friends who encouraged me to think about that position as a possibility for me. It was such a humbling experience to have your peers see that in you, even when you hadn’t seen it in yourself yet. I remember when I started receiving those encouraging comments from my friends and colleagues, I talked to my husband about it because it is a demanding job. He is the most supportive person I have ever met, and he told me that he’d support me every step of the way.

Transitioning into this role has been great! There’s so much to learn at once, which can be both exciting and nerve-racking. I am privileged that the Board above me and Kaileigh Mallin, who is the outgoing Editor-in-Chief, are such wonderful people. Kaileigh is smart, sharp, funny, capable, and overall, an outstanding person. I’m so lucky to have her as the person who is transitioning me into the role, as well as Board 61—they have all been wonderful mentors. The members of my Board, 62, are also exemplary people, and I look forward to being on this team of such smart, kind, and passionate students—it’s such an honor.

How will being Editor-in-Chief of the Houston Law Review add to your legal education?

This is going to be the experience of a lifetime. This role will give me the opportunity to meet and be very close to everyone on my Board, the Board above me, and the future Board that comes after us. Publishing a volume takes a lot of time, effort, commitment, and dedication. Multiple people are involved in the process and every single person matters — that is why we are a team, there is no small role, and everyone is incredibly important in making it happen. Therefore, it is a privilege to learn and build relationships with people who excel as students, as editors, and who will undoubtedly do amazing things in their lives. As Editor-in-Chief, you touch on multiple areas of the Law Review at once, so you have a unique opportunity to get to know your team well, and that is incredibly exciting to me.

I also think being Editor-in-Chief requires skills that I am learning to develop. For example, the role requires a good balance between being detail-oriented, while at the same time keeping a broad perspective and developing the ability to see the bigger picture. The role also requires time management skills; different deadlines and priorities need to be handled often on the same day on top of classes, being a wife, an aunt, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and my puppy’s favorite companion—so, it can be a lot at once. Someone once told me that life is like being a juggler who has both plastic and glass balls up in the air. The trick is to learn which ones are the glass balls and avoid dropping them. Being able to do this obviously takes time and practice, but I am up for the challenge!

Lastly, communication and learning how to communicate is a truly important skill I want to continue developing. I am a huge believer that everything comes down to communication. When you open the channels of communication with your peers, you start to realize that it is ultimately not only important to get the job done, it is even more important to get to know your colleagues. We are all people with lives outside of the UHLC building. Everyone is going through different things in their personal and professional lives and so long as communication is open, honest, and transparent, the path is there to have a fantastic year ahead.

In the end though, I am obviously not an expert at any of these things, but I certainly want to learn and be the best version of myself for the Law Review, my peers, my friends, and my family.

What led you to pursue a legal education at UHLC?

I was always curious about the law, my brother is actually a lawyer back in Mexico, and I always thought it was an interesting professional route. It was not until college when I was taking a leadership class where they teach you to look at your strengths and weaknesses, that I felt the want and desire to solve issues, think through problems, and almost solve puzzles.

In all honesty, and this is something that at times would cause me a certain degree of shame, my personal life and professional life have taken multiple twists and turns. It has never been a linear path for me. By the time my husband and I arrived in Houston, the thought of law school came back again. I knew that law school requires a lot of time, it is a huge emotional and financial commitment. Once we were in Houston, however, I felt stable, strong, and willing to commit three years of my life to this. The University of Houston has a wonderful reputation and, after living in the U.S. for college, moving to Europe, and then moving back to Mexico, my husband and I were exhausted, we did not want to move anywhere else. Houston provided the best balance of being a big city while still being a manageable and approachable place, not to say that it is also incredibly diverse. On top of that, Houston is also only a two-hour flight away from Mexico City, and my husband’s parents live here—it is the perfect place for us. The University of Houston Law Center was the right choice for me, and I do not regret that decision one bit. It has been awesome!

What are some of your favorite professors/memories here?

You often hear that law school is an incredibly cutthroat and competitive environment. The reality is that I was proven completely wrong. From the very beginning, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting students— some were my tutors for all my 1L classes —who guided me along the way. These 3L students basically adopted me; they took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. I remember thinking to myself when I first started law school, “I just met these students, and they are already incredibly generous with their time and knowledge.” That has been my experience at UHLC every step of the way.

Ultimately, the environment at UHLC is one of camaraderie and support. Along with my friends who are now 3Ls, I’ve built a fantastic group of friends from peers who I met during my 1L classes—all these wonderful individuals are kind, supportive, and inspiring—I am lucky to be surrounded by such special people. I am really excited to continue building on these wonderful relationships with everyone who surrounds me, Board 61, and Board 62 of the Law Review.

In terms of professors, UHLC has the best faculty I could ever imagine. I was lucky to have some of the best professors I’ve ever met during my 1L year. These professors have undoubtedly been extremely important in developing my career—their words of wisdom have guided me more times than I can count. It has been a great pleasure to learn from them—they are truly wonderful people, and I am lucky to call them my mentors.

What did you learn from your judicial externship at the Southern District of Texas?

I externed for the Honorable Judge Lee H. Rosenthal, who is an incredibly well-respected judge, a brilliant legal thinker, and an exceptional human being. I knew going into that externship that I would learn very much, and I did. Research and writing were two skills that I strengthened during that experience. I worked closely with her amazing clerks who are very impressive young professionals, excellent writers and researchers.

I had the opportunity to work on several opinions. Each week I was given a new case that required becoming very familiar with the facts, the surrounding law, and the possible solutions. After that, I would talk about the case with the clerks and often with Judge Rosenthal as well.  From those conversations, I gained guidance and confidence to kickstart the writing process. It was a truly wonderful experience. I remember that the first couple of weeks I was paralyzed with fear and doubt. I felt a huge sense of responsibility to do a good job because this was no longer school, whatever I wrote could potentially affect real people with real concerns, and real problems. I eventually got into a good rhythm with my writing process. The best part was learning from the clerks and Judge Rosenthal and absorbing as much as I could about what makes for a clear and well-written opinion. I left that externship feeling like I improved my research and writing skills. I'm not an expert, and there's still much to learn—but that’s part of the fun. I am looking forward to continuing to develop those skills at my judicial clerkship after law school. I will be clerking for the Honorable Judge Jeffrey V. Brown in Galveston, and I truly cannot wait. I’m very excited to join him during fall 2025 and learn as much as I can from him.

What were your key takeaways from your summer associate experience at Vinson & Elkins?

I spent 10 weeks with Vinson & Elkins last summer. V&E is an amazing firm, the summer program is spectacular because you can truly immerse yourself into what the day-to-day looks like. They work on energy matters, mergers and acquisitions, finance, tax, and litigation, among others. During the summer, I was able to rotate through two transactional groups, and then one litigation group. That is where I found out that I’m passionate about litigation and that I love research and writing.

The best part of the summer experience was having the opportunity to meet numerous people who were excited to go to work, to think about the client, to analyze the facts of the case, and the best strategy for the client. These wonderful lawyers are not only incredibly successful and excellent at their craft, but they are also interesting people on a personal level. They have other passions; some of them are amazing runners, some love trying new restaurants, and some of them are great cooks. This environment made me feel like, although being a lawyer is a very demanding profession, balance is attainable. One can be a great lawyer while at the same time having other personal interests outside of the law.

I am very much looking forward to going back to Vinson & Elkins this summer. The people are fantastic, the firm is wonderful, and I am grateful for the opportunity to go back. I will also be splitting my summer with Beck Redden, a boutique litigation firm. I am incredibly excited to join them as well—they have been incredibly generous and kind to me and I am looking forward to learning from them too.

What is one valuable lesson you learned at UHLC?

The most valuable lesson is to believe in yourself. I think it's so easy to get inside your head and feel like you’re inadequate. I am often my toughest critic and the person who’s in my own way. This community of people who are empathetic, passionate, friendly, and intelligent has taught me that any goal can be achieved if you have the right mindset, believe that you can do it, and work tirelessly to achieve it. The truth is that you don’t need to be a genius to be successful or to achieve your goals, I am far from being a genius. You also don't need to be spectacular or above average at anything really—you just need to believe in yourself, work consistently hard and have a bit of luck to be surrounded by people who support you and believe in you.

What advice do you have for individuals considering law school as their career path?

I would say do it! It’s a wonderful path. It’s going to be challenging sometimes because you’ll likely have to learn everything from scratch, but that is the whole point, and it is truly an experience unlike any other. It is such a privilege to be a law student; there is everything to learn, everything to do, and everything to explore.

The law is expansive. There are so many different topics and areas of the law. New things are happening every day, so going to law school is an incredible opportunity to hop on that train and find your niche and the topics that interest you. It’s important to remember that the stereotypical lawyer or law student is far from what you will experience in law school, there are people from many different paths and backgrounds with many different preferences and ideas. You don’t have to fit into any box to do well in law school. You can just be yourself. This profession will likely give you the fundamentals to be anyone you want to be. There are lawyers everywhere, if you want to be a professor you can be a professor, or you can be a Judge, or a tax lawyer, or a fantastic litigator, or even an entrepreneur—you can be whoever you want to be, you just need to commit to working hard and being open to learning new things every single day.

Going to law school—and specifically UHLC— was the best thing I could have done. I certainly did not get here by myself. On the contrary, my journey has been a team effort, and I could never have done this without my husband and my family. As cheesy as it may sound, these past two years at UHLC have given me a passion, a purpose, and something to look forward to not only now, but hopefully for many years to come.

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