McGeorge School of Law

Profile: Leonardo Sandoval

Leo Sandoval
Leonardo Sandoval

Class of 2019

JD, 2019
Extern, Sacramento County Office of the Public Defender
Cannabis Law Association, President
Tax Law Society, Secretary

Hometown: South Sacramento, CA
Undergraduate: University of Arizona
Major: Political Science/Spanish

Leonardo Sandoval grew up in an impoverished area of South Sacramento, raised with his siblings by a single mother. "If you come from an impoverished background and English is not your first language, it is an uphill battle to succeed. You have to work twice as hard as other people,” said the recent McGeorge graduate who is the first in his family to earn a college and law school degree.

Sandoval didn't learn how to write in English until he was an undergraduate at the University of Arizona at Tucson. But he was an avid reader. "I'm interested in auto-racing, physics, astronomy and health science. I worked in the library and I got into reading all the medical books. It strengthens you as an attorney if you are knowledgeable about a wide variety of subject areas."

At McGeorge, Sandoval externed for the Sacramento County Office of the Public Defender. He served as president of the Cannabis Law Association and secretary of the Tax Law Society. He also worked as a Summer Law Clerk at the Victims of Crimes Resource Center and served on the board for the Latinx Law Students Association.

Sandoval was inspired to practice law while he was working for the public defender's office. He was surprised to learn that while 40 percent of those arrested in California are of Mexican or Latin-American descent, only two attorneys for the eastern district of California were Latino. Furthermore, the public defender's office had few lawyers who could speak Spanish.

Sandoval was appreciative of the support he received from McGeorge’s faculty and staff. "They are here to help you and they know that law school is hard, especially if you are from a poor background and don't have as many resources. I like the small school structure and got to know everybody on a first name basis."

He has also enjoyed the opportunity to network with his peers who come from diverse backgrounds. "A lot of people come here who want to be politicians and who are international students. It's wonderful to hear their stories and get their guidance."