1. What’s in a name?
For Tomás Clasen, ancestry, pride, opportunity. “My parents are German and Irish, and my birth mother is Guatemalan. When I was 12, my school in suburban Milwaukee put together a cultural fair. I made the decision to learn more about my Guatemalan heritage and my birth mother. I learned she gave me my name and that she gave me up for adoption because she couldn’t provide the life she wanted for me. “I helped my adopted mom start an annual volunteer trip for my high school to assist a Guatemalan orphanage, and twelve years later, it’s still going strong. I am really proud to have been a part of the start of this program.”
2. His peers believe in him…and he believes in them.
“When I started on the Wisconsin Law Review, there wasn’t much diversity. Last
year, I was encouraged by my peers to run for editor-in-chief. Being elected to the position has been very meaningful to me— and very humbling. I hope it is meaningful to other law students, to make them feel like they can do it, too.” “During the write-on process last summer, I texted, called, and emailed minority law students to encourage them to consider joining the Law Review as a member, and then running for a board position down the road.”
3. He’s heading to a top firm in his favorite locale: Milwaukee.
“Next fall, I am joining Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren as an associate in the real estate group. I like the collaborative and transactional nature of real estate law. I like being able to look at something tangible—like a building—and know that I’m working on that. After spending four years in New York City and three years in Madison, I am happy to be returning home to Milwaukee.”
4. His call of duty: helping kids.
“I wanted to give back to the United States, which, through adoption, has given so much to me. That’s why I participated in Teach for America and ended up teaching a total of four years. I am looking forward to figuring out how I can give back to the Milwaukee community through either my my pro bono work or during my personal time. In particular, I want to support Milwaukee’s youth.”
5. He’s paying back a debt of love.
“I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer, and I’ve also felt the need to do something with the opportunity that was given to me as a result of being adopted. “I got lucky. I have a great family and attended a great school. The truth is my birth mother made an immense sacrifice for love and for my well-being by giving me up for adoption. She gave me a debt of love at a very young age, and I’m trying to pay it back, by loving and supporting people. I try to encourage and help those around me. I try to do this not just in words, but with my time. I may be busy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have time to support those around me.” •
BY KAREN KOETHE