Celebrated Musician Hopes to Use Legal Knowledge on World Stage
There is no typical weekend for Loyola Law School, Los Angeles JD Evening student Geoff Gallegos '20. One Saturday, he’s providing volunteer client-intake assistance for the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic, another he’s performing on stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Having spent more than two decades as a celebrated musician with a list of Grammy Award-winning collaborators including Nine Inch Nails and Ziggy Marley, saxophonist Geoff Gallegos ’20 was looking for a new way to make a difference. He saw an Evening JD from Loyola Law School as an instrument that would allow him to hit new notes.
Gallegos has used his time at Loyola to nurture his interest in politics and legislation. A volunteer at the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic’s fall Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals free renewal event, he hopes to use his law degree to effect change in government.
“I applied to law school with the purpose of running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives,” he says. “I have a few ideas for legislative solutions, and thought that law school would teach me how to write a bill.”
While a student, Gallegos has continued his public music performances, which in the past have included appearances on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “The Tonight Show,” “Conan” and many more. He even manages to conduct and arrange while keeping up with his studies.
“The part-time Evening Program at Loyola is perfect for someone like me who already has a career and wants to expand into new directions. The flexibility of the program has allowed me to continue doing great music gigs while enrolled in law school,” says Gallegos of the top-ranked evening program in the West. “Loyola is the only law school to which I applied, and the only law school I wanted to attend.”
Despite a hectic schedule, Gallegos is active on campus. In his role as an Evening Student Bar Association representative, he has expanded his repertoire by helping coordinate such efforts as the school’s 2018 Diversity Week, which featured panels and events with civil rights leaders and community organizers. He also serves on the Loyola Career Development Office’s Student Advisory Board.
In class, Gallegos relishes the nuts-and-bolts knowledge dispensed. He found Professor Gary Williams’ Civil Rights Litigation Practicum particularly rewarding. “The year-long class is a writing boot camp,” he says. “Every class felt like a meeting at a law firm. I intend to enroll in at least one more practicum or clinic while here at Loyola.”
Perhaps unexpectedly, Gallegos has found that law school has improved his music ability. “Legal writing has definitely helped my jazz playing. I feel more organized in the approach to improvising over a set of chord changes,” he says. But, “my musician friends are already hitting me up to look at contracts. I tell them the only legal advice I can offer for now is, ‘Call a lawyer!’”
Gallegos also has taken advantage of Loyola’s many practical-training and networking opportunities. Those have included the Fidler Institute on Criminal Justice, an annual gathering of Southern California’s elite prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. He also attended a session of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals when it sat in Loyola’s flagship Robinson Courtroom and regularly sits in on Faculty Workshops, where innovative new scholarship is presented.
Gallegos sees in his Loyola studies the continuation of a family legacy. His great-uncle was iconic Catholic Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, an alumnus of Loyola Marymount University who has been mentioned as a candidate for sainthood.
“There’s a statue of him next to the state capitol in Sacramento. I think of him every day,” says Gallegos. “I am no saint, but I aim to live a meaningful life and advocate for those whose voices are overwhelmed or silenced.”
Above all else, Gallegos sees in his future law degree one thing: opportunity. “I realize that a JD degree doesn’t limit me to the practice of law. There are other options, such as consulting, think tanks, lobbying, investigating, management – and who knows what else,” he says.
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