Written by: Lauren A. Solis
Alumni Spotlight: Sylvia A. Cavazos
It’s a warm, humid morning in San Antonio, Texas, and the line to get inside the Cadena-Reeves Justice Center is out the door. Inside, attorneys, and defendants are buzzing through the hallways. In the crowd, you will spot a friendly face – Sylvia Cavazos, a criminal defense attorney. Wearing her signature red lipstick, clad in a bright, red suit jacket, Sylvia is conferring with the State regarding her clients’ case; they have agreed to an offer and on to the next courtroom she goes. This is a typical morning for Sylvia - from courtroom to courtroom she advocates for her clients. However, Sylvia did not anticipate she would be a successful criminal defense attorney in San Antonio. Sylvia graduated in the Voelker Class in 1997 from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Upon graduation she returned to Texas and worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Bexar (pronounced “bear”) County. She worked in different divisions from Juvenile Division, Drug Intake, and Trial Division both Misdemeanor and Felony. When asked the reason she departed from the DA’s Office after 10 years, Sylvia replies, “There really are two sides to every story. [T]here are bad cops and the facts are not always the way they appear. Many people are falsely accused of very serious offenses and the only person in their corner is their defense attorney who can advocate on their behalf.”
Sylvia comments on the job market for criminal defense attorneys in San Antonio, saying that, “there is an over-abundance of attorneys, so your experience must set you apart from the average applicant”. Without a doubt, Sylvia is leading the pack. In addition to her State cases, Sylvia also represents clients in Federal Court. Some of her top cases involve illegal entry of individuals crossing the Mexican-American boarder, individuals smuggling large quantities of drugs and money into the United States, and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) cases which involve the Texas Syndicate, Mexican Mafia, and Latin Kings.
When asked about the pros and cons of her career she answers, “The positive aspect is being able to help someone facing serious consequences that will affect them for the rest of their life. The negative aspect is having to be selfish and working extra hours that take away from your personal time.” Those extra hours Sylvia puts in the office and after hours at her home office show in her passionate representation amongst her clients. Her service and experience pave way to being involved in her community, holding memberships in the Texas Bar Association, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Association (TCDLA), National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyer Association (SADCLA), and having had the great opportunity of serving as President of the Del Rio Association of Federal Attorneys.
As I wrap up this interview with Sylvia, she is in her car driving from San Antonio to Del Rio, Texas (approximately 144 miles from San Antonio) for her Federal cases. She’s multitasking between calling the correctional institute to confirm her client interviews and calling her office to check in on business. Her job never stops, rather, she proudly admits, “being able to advocate zealously for my client whose life would be greatly affected by a criminal conviction and ultimately getting their case dismissed” is what she finds most satisfying about her job. ~