Fellowship Spotlight: Luis Manuel Rico Román

May 10, 2023

The Cleary Gottlieb Fellowship Program places associates at legal services or nonprofit organizations for one year, providing critically needed legal work to underserved communities.

Luis Manuel Rico Román, a current Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), shares some of his thoughts about the experience thus far.

What drew you to the Cleary Gottlieb Fellowship Program?

I was drawn to the Cleary Gottlieb Fellowship Program because I wanted to dedicate my first year out of law school to substantive public interest matters. Having enjoyed working on immigration and criminal defense cases in law school, I wanted to expand my practice into other public interest work. The Fellowship offered the perfect opportunity to work on any legal domain for one year. For me, that area was voting rights litigation.

Why did you want to work at the American Civil Liberties Union?

I first worked on voting rights litigation in 2020, a year flooded with litigation concerning voters’ ability to cast their ballots in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thereafter, I took it upon myself to obtain more experience in the voting rights world. I believed the Cleary Gottlieb Fellowship Program was the perfect opportunity to immerse myself for a full year in voting rights litigation. I then decided to work at the American Civil Liberties Union with the Voting Rights Project: a cohort litigating voter suppression and minority vote dilution cases across the country.

What have you enjoyed most about your fellowship?

During my fellowship, I have worked alongside brilliant lawyers committed to protecting democracy. I am inspired by their dedication in spite of the recent numerous legal attacks on the right to vote. Furthermore, I have enjoyed participating on a variety of voting rights matters at both the district and appellate levels. Working at both stages has improved my legal writing and fact development skills. Lastly, I have found it interesting to tackle complex constitutional questions to protect marginalized and disenfranchised communities.

What advice do you have for a young Cleary associate who may want to pursue a similar path?

My advice would be to go for it. Initially, there may be hesitation and doubt about foregoing your first year at Cleary, but you will not regret partaking in the invaluable opportunities the Fellowship offers. You will expand your horizons working on public interest matters that call to you while meeting lawyers who will serve as fantastic mentors. You will become a better litigator, and an even better person, with a year full of special memories.

Learn more about the Cleary Gottlieb Fellowship Program here.