In the News Bar & Bench

Practitioner Profile: Christian Silva

Christian Silva was profiled by Bar & Bench, Salt Lake County Bar Association's newsletter. The article describes his upbringing and what inspired him to become a lawyer, as well as his legal practice and dedication to pro bono and LGBTQ+ initiatives.

Christian Silva is not your typical Utah attorney. Though he has the academic chops and personal charm to sit comfortably at the Big Law conference table, Silva’s personal experiences ally him with the traditionally disempowered.

Silva was born in Uruguay. After personal experiences with crime, rising unemployment, and a deteriorating economy in Uruguay, Silva’s parents made the decision to leave Uruguay for the United States, bringing then two-year-old Silva to Utah where they had connections through the LDS Church.

As he grew, Silva attended Utah public schools. He became the translator – both of language and culture – for his parents, who had arrived in Utah knowing only a few words of English.

Inspired by the election of President Obama, Silva’s childhood dream was to become President of the United States. Upon finding out that, because he was not a natural born citizen, he could not hold this office, Silva settled for dreaming of becoming a U.S. Senator and an attorney.

On his way, Silva became the first person in his family to graduate high school – graduating at only age 17. Not knowing the U.S. education system, his parents had enrolled him a year early.

Silva went on to obtain his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Utah in 2018, graduating magna cum laude. While completing his undergraduate work, Silva served as an intern at the Utah State Capitol during the 2017 legislative session. During this internship, Silva discovered that he did not love politics, which he learned had a skewed ratio of campaigning to lawmaking. Nevertheless, his interest in law combined with early experience navigating the U.S. immigration system drew him towards a career as an attorney.

Silva earned his J.D. from the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, graduating with High Honors in 2021. There, Silva was a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association Moot Court Team, Quinney Research Fellow, William Leary Scholar, and he received multiple additional academic awards. Silva says that among his favorite things about law school was the work he did as a research assistant to Professor Clifford Rosky, investigating and writing about the First Amendment and the harmful effects of so-called “conversion therapy” on LGBTQ+ minors.

Silva currently serves as an associate attorney with the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis – where he focuses on the formation of investment funds and complex business transactions and devotes pro bono hours to helping other immigrants seek asylum and obtain citizenship. He also hopes to devote pro bono time to helping members of the LGBTQ+ community. He previously worked as a litigation associate at Fabian VanCott and a summer clerk at the Salt Lake City Attorney’s Office.

As an LGBTQ+, first-generation, Hispanic professional, Silva is committed to uplifting voices of marginalized communities and issues relating to the intersection of immigration and LGBTQ+ identities. 

Being a relatively new attorney, Silva says he is most surprised at how much there is to learn about being a lawyer and the law, how little law school prepares students for the practice of law, and challenges individuals often face in obtaining quality legal representation. He plans to continue to offer pro bono services to traditionally underserved communities. For fun, and to stay sane, Silva rides his road bike and travels.

Silva plans to return to Uruguay next year, the first time he will have visited the country since leaving as a baby. Given the privileged course his life has taken, he is eager to explore his connections to the family and country that remained behind.