Sylvia Denise Lebaron-Ramos is a solo practitioner in Kansas City, Kansas. She focuses her practice in family law and immigration law. She has two bachelor’s degrees—one from the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua in Chihuahua, Mexico and a Liberal Arts degree from the University of Missouri—Kansas City—and earned her J.D. at Washburn School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in just two years. A big thank you to Denise for answering our questions!
What have you done since law school and where do you work now? I completed an externship at Sharma-Crawford Law Offices in Kansas City, Missouri specializing in immigration law. Then, while preparing for the bar exam, I worked with a Temporary License with the attorney Thomas R. Fields doing criminal and worker’s compensation cases. After passing the bar I opened my own office in Kansas City, Kansas.
What do you enjoy most about what you do? What I enjoy the most is the people that I have the opportunity to help, the happiness on their faces when they are told that they can stay here in the U.S.A., and those who pass the citizenship examination and get their confirmation letter to their swearing-in ceremony as a U.S. citizen.
Has your path in law differed from your original expectations? If so, in what way? Law school was an amazing experience. When I was accepted I began making big plans for the future. When finally out and working I realized that what you learn in law school has very little to do with the actual practice of law. Realizing this has not made me change my plans of opening my own practice, it just has made it a bigger challenge than I thought it was going to be. However, thankfully I count on an amazing group of people who inspire, help and, when necessary, pick me up and keep me on my path, which already in this short year and a half has taught me so much and has only made it more clear to me that this is exactly where I am meant to be.
What are your future professional goals? My future goal is to grow my practice, create a law practice that is focused on immigration law and all its different angles, a practice that includes knowledgeable attorneys that deal in all the different areas of law that affect the people that are wanting to grow and establish themselves, and their families, here in the United States.
How do you juggle your personal and professional lives? My number one priority has been my family, both during law school and every day since. I make sure that once I have left the office and I’m headed home, I de-stress by listening to good music and keep my mind off work so that when I get home to my family I am ready to see how their day has been, spend time with them as much as I can, and always make sure that they know that they are my most precious gift on this earth. “I work to live, not live to work” are words that I have engraved in my brain.
Tell us about your family. I was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico. I have 2 brothers and 6 sisters (we are 9 in total); my parents and all of my siblings and their families still live in Chihuahua. After my husband Luis and I got married; we moved to Kansas City for a job opportunity he received. This move was supposed to be for 5 years, but it has been 14. Kansas has been very good to us. Back in 2004 we were blessed with a healthy little boy, his name is Fabian, he is my world and my everyday reminder of how extremely blessed I really am. My husband and my son have been my support system through this amazing journey.
What advice would you give to other women either interested or already working in the law? My advice would be to ensure that your priorities are always in order, to make sure that you are happy doing what you are doing. This is not an easy career, but it so very rewarding. I would also tell them to take the good and shake off the bad. There will be days that everything goes as planned, maybe even better. But then there are days that go so bad that you don’t want to go back the next day. Shake those bad days off, learn from them and move forward. And always remember why you chose law, the basic reason, the real reason, and keep that in your focus. Don’t let the competitive atmosphere, the angry moments, the lost cases, or the frustrating clients make you forget.