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CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is scheduled to speak at the Annual Convention. (File photo)
CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is scheduled to speak at the Annual Convention. (File photo)

Philadelphia to host Hispanic National Bar Association Annual Convention

The event, which runs from Sept. 5 through Sept. 8, attracts attorneys, judges, public officials, business leaders, law students from across the country.

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Hispanics make up roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population. However, they comprise of only four percent of the nation's lawyers.

“The underrepresentation of Latinos in the law profession is detrimental to the progress of our community in profound ways,” said Erica V. Mason, President of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA).

She posed the question: if Latinos aren’t represented, who would protect their interests in the court system? In federal or state legislatures? In corporations?

For this and many other reasons, the HNBA has become a staple for the Latino community in the U.S. ever since it was founded in the early 1970s due to the increase of Spanish speakers in the country and their need for quality legal services. The HNBA is a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of U.S. Hispanic legal professionals who are committed to advocacy on issues of importance to the 58 million people of Hispanic heritage living in the U.S.

Today, the organization has local chapters in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. This week, the HNBA will hold its 43rd Annual Convention in Philadelphia from Wednesday through Saturday.

"We're very excited," said President of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania Jacqueline Romero, who is based in Philadelphia. "It's an honor to have the Annual Convention in your city."

Greg DeShields is Executive Director of PHLDiversity, a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. He said his organization is extremely proud of its efforts to bring diverse meetings and conventions like this event to the city.

"I think it really speaks volumes about Philadelphia’s commitment to diversity, and highlighting our various communities around attracting the best and the brightest and the smartest to our city," DeShields said.

A Breakthrough Year

The theme of this year's event is "The Breakthrough Convention," which Mason said is indicative of the “remarkable” year the HNBA is having.

“The Breakthrough Convention is all about finding your breakthrough moment for career success,” Mason said. "Our strategic plan aimed to improve nearly every aspect of the way we operate and serve our members and our communities.”

The plan included investing more in the organization’s technology and infrastructure, expanding the mission of its charitable arm, and delivering resources to members from across the country, Mason said.

She added that the HNBA launched two new programs this year: Poder25, which is the first Latinx General Counsel Pipeline Program, and the HNBA/Prudential Su Dinero Program, which includes financial wellness workshops and an online self-study portal designed to help members get ahead financially.

Honorees and Speakers

Each year, the HNBA honors distinguished legal professionals, and the group of honorees at this year’s convention consists of attorneys who have each broken barriers to achieve the qualities and distinctions that merited their selections.

The honorees and their corresponding awards are:

  • Chief Judge Jose Linares, “Lifetime Achievement” Award. Linares is the Chief of the New Jersey Federal District Court. He was the first Hispanic in the history of the New Jersey Federal Court to serve as Chief District Court Judge (2017) and the first Cuban-born person to serve as Federal District Court Chief in the U.S.
  • Hon. Mary H. Marguia, “Latina Judge of the Year.” Marguia is a U.S. District Judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2000, she became the first Latina to serve as a federal district court judge in Arizona.
  • Hon. Peter Reyes, “Latino Judge of the Year.” Reyes is a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
  • Tamara Cabán-Ramirez, “Latina Attorney of the Year.” Ramirez is a criminal defense and immigration attorney. She serves as the Deputy Regional President of the HNBA, Region XI, and as a member of the HNBA Immigration Task Force.
  • Carlos M. Bollar, “Latino Attorney of the Year.” Bollar is a partner at Archer Law where he represents clients in complex toxic tort, product liability and environmental litigation matters. He also serves as the Regional President for Region III of the HNBA.
  • Horacio Gutierrez, “Latino In-House Attorney of the Year.” Gutierrez is Spotify Group’s General Counsel and Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs.
  • Javier F. Flores, “Regional President of the Year.” Flores is a partner at MG+M, LLP, in the Boston office.
  • Cindy Villanueva, “Deputy Regional President of the Year.” Villanueva is an attorney in Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie’s office in Phoenix, Arizona and a member of the Intellectual Property Practice Group.
  • Eduardo Santiago-Acevedo, “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.” Santiago-Acevedo is a Vice President and Senior Regulatory Counsel with Prudential’s Enterprise Regulatory Law Group.

“They were chosen because they are inspirational and aspirational," Mason said. “They represent what each of us can achieve if we put our minds to it.”

The guest speakers expected to attend the convention include Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta.

The Next Generation

While Latinos continue to be underrepresented in the law profession, the HNBA plans to continue growing and inspire more members of the Latino community to enter the field.

“We have to make the case to our young people that this is a noble profession, worth pursuing,” Mason said.

The HNBA is hopeful that the organization's various programs, workshops, events and conventions will provide young Latinos with the opportunity to interact with positive Latino attorney role models.

“This will hopefully inspire them to go to law school and join our ranks,” Mason said.

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