CHSS 2019 Distinguished Alumni Speaker: Liana Montecinos

Liana Montecinos

Liana Montecinos, BA Philosophy and Foreign Languages ‘09
Attorney, Benach Collopy, LLP

Liana E. Montecinos is a Honduran asylee, an immigration attorney at Benach Collopy, LLP, and an executive director of a non-profit called United for Social Justice. Montecinos graduated from the University of District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in May 2018 and was admitted to the practice of law in January 2019.

Prior to normalizing her immigration status, Montecinos was undocumented in the United States for over a decade. She graduated from Justice High School in Falls Church, VA, with the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma, excellent grades, and highly involved in athletics and student leadership. With the help of George Mason University’s Early Identification Program, Montecinos earned a full-ride scholarship to attend Mason. She worked three jobs to provide for her food and book expenses to become the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a double major within three years with a bachelor of arts in Spanish, Summa Cum Laude, and bachelor of arts in philosophy, Magna Cum Laude.

In addition, she received the following honors from Mason after she graduated:

  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Alumna of the Year, May 2010
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Gold Alumni of the Decade, Oct. 2010

In law school, Montecinos was the president of the Latinx Law Student Association (LLSA), community service chair at the National Latina Law Student Association, executive director at non-profit United for Social Justice, and a senior paralegal at Benach Collopy, LLP.

While in law school, Montecinos led LLSA to partner with dozens of community organizations to coordinate efforts to serve the Latino community on and off campus. Their projects included a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Information Session, Pro Se Asylum Clinic, Immigration Clinic for Unaccompanied Alien Children, Puerto Rican Children’s Toy Drive, and a two-day Latinx Law Student Conference. For her work as president of the LLSA chapter, the UDC Law Student Bar Association awarded Montecinos with the Outstanding President Award. LLSA, under her leadership, was awarded with the Organization of the Year Award. Montecinos also received the Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement Award at UDC Law because of her commitment to activism, social responsibility, civic participation, and advocacy for the welfare and betterment of the University of the District of Columbia and the greater community. In December 2018, Montecinos led a group of fourteen advocates to the southern border of the United States to advocate for the human rights of asylum seekers/refugees.

As an immigration attorney, Montecinos helps immigrants through the complex maze of immigration law. She represents clients in immigration court, before Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Citizenship & Immigration Service (CIS), and the Department of State (DOS).

She found her vocation in the legal field through her personal experience of removal proceedings and of living a life of uncertainty due to her immigration status for over a decade. “I have gone through a lot,” she states. “I am healing through service.”