Military veteran turns legal interest into second career

January 12, 2024

by Samantha Mendoza

David Louis is proof that it’s never too late to start a new career.

After serving 20 years as a combat medic in the United States Army, Louis received his J.D. degree from the St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2020. Using his military mindset to excel in his studies, he eventually made the leap from St. Mary’s to clerk for the Supreme Court of Texas.

“St. Mary’s really prepares you to hit the ground running and practice law,” Louis said. “All of my professors had an amazing role to play in my journey.”

David Louis stands at the School of Law.
David Louis, J.D., visits the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library.

The son of Haitian immigrants, Louis was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Unsure of which career to pursue, but propelled by his interest in health science, Louis enlisted in the Army at age 18.

As a combat medic who served in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan, he managed teams of medics in the combat field, providing them with the equipment and training to distribute medicine and care where most needed. 

After exactly 20 years and seven days of service, Louis was ready for a new career challenge. Recognizing the racial disparities many minorities in the U.S. face when trying to access legal services, Louis realized that studying and practicing law could allow him to help himself, his family and others, no matter which career path he chose to pursue.

Louis enrolled in the St. Mary’s School of Law as a first-generation college student. A standout scholar, he became the Managing Executive Editor of The St. Mary’s Law Journal and was inducted into the Harlan Society.

“Entering a new field, I felt like I was starting from the bottom. I was self-conscious, but St. Mary’s prepared me to be a great researcher and writer,” he said. “St. Mary’s was instrumental to me becoming confident in my analytical skills.”

Louis’ academic excellence led professors to set high expectations for him; so high, in fact, that Professor of Law Albert Kauffman, J.D., nominated him for an opportunity with the highest court in the state.

“I was so impressed by David’s ability to get to the heart of legal issues that I recommended him for a Texas Supreme Court internship,” Kauffman said. “Based on his skills, he parlayed that into a full clerkship with the Texas Supreme Court. That is the best preparation possible for law practice in Texas.”

“St. Mary’s really prepares you to hit the ground running and practice law. All of my professors had an amazing role to play in my journey.”

David Louis

Louis clerked for Justice Rebeca A. Huddle, J.D., which allowed him to hone his skills with some of the top legal authorities in the state. Louis now practices civil defense law at Valdez & Treviño Attorneys at Law, PC, in San Antonio.

He remains connected to St. Mary’s Law as a mentor, as an executive committee member of the law school’s Board of Visitors and through his participation in the Dean’s Circle for those who give $1,000 or more annually.

“I left New York at a young age, and St. Mary’s is the first place where I felt a sense of community. It was like the TV show Cheers, where everyone knows your name,” Louis said. “I’ve made a promise that whenever the School of Law needs anything, I’ll do my best to help, whether it be financially or through mentoring other students. St. Mary’s will always have a special place in my heart.”   

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