Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Jodi Morales

The Law Office of Jodi Morales

Bronx, New York

“The loan allowed me to handle the immediate needs of the business such as paying the salaries of my employees, who continue to be the backbone of my practice.” –Jodi Morales

Creating Inclusivity

After ten years as a public defender, Jodi Morales wanted a change. “I wanted to make an even greater impact on my community while exercising my entrepreneurial skills and thought what better way than to open my own practice.” Jodi founded the Law Office of Jodi Morales, a boutique law firm in the South Bronx focusing on cases of criminal justice and police brutality. Jodi prioritizes hiring students of color as interns and employees who were formerly incarcerated or convicted of a crime. “I try to make my practice as inclusive as possible. A big part of my commitment to be a responsible business owner is to never neglect the community I’m working with. You have to create opportunities for them.”

Unanswered Questions

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, Jodi witnessed unforeseeable obstacles in her practice. “When the shutdown happened, I panicked. I really didn’t know what was going to happen, especially financially.” Many of Jodi’s clients are in prison, where visiting is now prohibited, and systems of alternative communication were extremely disorganized. As prison conditions worsened and outside information remained unclear, Jodi had to work even harder to give her clients solace and hope. “I was hearing their complaints every day and I had to find new solutions to maintain my client-centered approach to practice.”

A Peace of Mind

Despite these unprecedented challenges, Jodi has maintained resiliency to uphold her business mission. “It’s important for me to work through these challenges, be creative, and figure out ways to keep serving my clients and giving back to my community.” Jodi also received an Ascendus loan in April. “The loan allowed me to handle the immediate needs of the business such as paying the salaries of my employees, who continue to be the backbone of my practice. The loan also gave me peace of mind as the head of my household. As a single mom of two boys, it was sometimes hard to be positive for them.” Jodi adds that despite the parenting challenges she’s faced during the pandemic, this time has also been a teaching moment for her children in facing adversity.

A Message for the Future

Now that police brutality has become a more urgent conversation than ever, Jodi is using this time to educate the public on an issue she has always been dedicated to addressing. “I’ve been highlighting these issues during interviews and webinars, giving people ideas about how they can give back and create alliances to uplift struggling communities.” Jodi feels hopeful for the future as she finds another facet of her business becoming a nationwide dialogue. “I’ve always encouraged people to be active in community building and I think people are now collaborating and helping each other more than ever. That’s something I truly hope will continue. My hope is this time sets a precedent of what you can accomplish when you join forces.”

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