After coming to UT as a Canfield Business Honors student and becoming the first Mexican-American student to serve as student body president, Omar Ochoa continues to make waves as an alumnus by running his own law firm in his hometown of Edinburg, Texas.
Omar graduated from UT Austin in 2007 with a Canfield Business Honors undergraduate degree and a Master’s in Professional Accounting (MPA). He later earned his JD from the UT School of Law, where he became the first Latino to serve as Editor-in-Chief of Texas Law Review. Looking back on his experiences at UT, Omar considers his time priceless.
“I always say that some of my fondest memories are from UT,” he said. “The campus life is second to none, the city of Austin is such a great place to be, and the university an enclave within Austin that’s very culturally diverse. Having such a big research university with a great athletic program, great student involvement, and lots of organizations to be a part of is just a very dynamic place where you can really learn who you are and find yourself.”
While serving as the UT student body president in 2005 and 2006, Omar spearheaded a campaign to add another space on campus for students to convene.
“At the time the student union was the only student space on campus and there really wasn’t a whole lot of spaces for students to build community,” he said, “So we organized a campaign to convince students that (adding a student space) was something that needed to be done and, luckily, they voted for it. Then came the student activity center.”
After earning his undergraduate degree, Omar went on to work for General Motors. He knew, however, that he wanted to be a lawyer, and came back to the forty acres a year later to earn his JD.
“I had an internship with the general motors in Detroit, Michigan, and it was one of those internships ships that I took on not necessarily because I was looking for a longterm career with General Motors, but it was a great option that came up and I decided to try it out,” he said. “In the process of doing that job I got to know a lot of people there at GM and they offered me a full-time job upon graduation. So, I deferred my admission to UT Law for a year so that I could go work for General Motors. I did that with the idea that maybe I’d forego a legal career in favor of an accounting career and it was a really great job, but I knew I wasn’t going to get rid of the law school bug and that I would regret it if I didn’t go back, so I did and I loved UT Law.”
Omar said his business background from Canfield Business Honors helped him greatly when it came to law school and while practicing.
“Every time I take on a new corporate client or every time I start a lawsuit where we’re suing a corporate entity, I have to learn all about that business, backward and forwards, financial statements, operations, you name it,” he said. “Being able to have a deep level of business understanding helps me to develop a good strategy for what I’m doing and ultimately serve my client. If I didn’t have that very solid business background from (Canfield) BHP I would not be as good of a lawyer as I am today.”
After law school, Omar went on to work for federal judges and at law firms in various cities, including Kentucky, Dallas, and Houston. Eventually, he found his way back home to the Rio Grande Valley, where he now runs his own practice with offices in Edinburg and McAllen.
“I have a very special connection to the Rio Grande Valley. I was born and raised here, public school, right. All along the way. My family was very civically involved (growing up) and (they) are still down here,” he said.” I love the Valley and it is a very kind of deep part of my personality and it always has been. So I knew I would make it back here at some point in my career. I just didn’t know when or how.”