WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This year, the Hispanic National Bar Association is celebrating its 40th year as the National Voice of the Hispanic Legal Community®. Since its founding in 1972, the HNBA has grown in its mission to build a legal profession that reflects America's ever more diverse population, to foster the pipeline of Hispanic law students and young legal professionals, and to advocate for the Hispanic community and the issues that affect it.
"In 40 years, the HNBA has grown from a small advocacy campaign to a national membership organization that represents the interests of more than 100,000 Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, and law students in the United States and its territories," said Benny Agosto, Jr., HNBA National President. "Though we have seen some of our goals accomplished and dreams realized – notably, the appointment of the first Hispanic justice on the United States Supreme Court – the HNBA is as committed as ever to the work that remains to be done."
The HNBA and its members have acted as a force for positive change within the legal profession and the country, directly participating in such landmark initiatives as Justice Sonia Sotomayor's nomination and confirmation, the DREAM Act campaign and other immigration reform policy work, numerous civil rights cases on a variety of issues, the endorsements of qualified Hispanic judges and executive appointees to ensure diverse Judicial and Executive branches, the first-ever National Study on the Status of Latinas in the Legal Profession, and much more. The HNBA also actively promotes networking and professional development among Hispanic attorneys, judges, and students, and serves as a direct link between its members and the nation's top policymakers.
"We are so proud of the enormous success and growth of the HNBA since our founding 40 years ago, and we look forward to what the future will bring," said President Agosto. "The HNBA has helped generations of lawyers succeed, and our programming and advocacy are only getting stronger."
40 Things You May Not Have Known About the HNBA
In 2012, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) celebrates forty years of serving the legal profession and Hispanic community at large. We are proud to share some interesting information about our long and rich history as The National Voice of the Hispanic Legal Community®.
In 40 years, the HNBA has grown from one advocacy campaign to a national membership organization that represents the interests of more than 100,000 Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, and law students in the United States and its territories.
- The HNBA was founded in California in 1972 by Mario G. Obledo, the Honorable Cruz Reynoso, Ben Aranda III, Louis Garcia, Miguel R. Mendez, Ed Pena, Baltazar Baca, Al Gonzalez, Lorenzo Arredondo, John Huerta and Donato Tapia.
- When the HNBA was founded, it had 98 members. Now, the HNBA has members all over the U.S. and its territories, comprising 19 regions, and has 43 affiliate organizations.
- The HNBA's founding mission was to have a Latino appointed to the United States Supreme Court, and together with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) submitted the name of Judge Reynaldo Garza. Although not appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Garza was the first Hispanic judge appointed to a federal district court.
- The HNBA was originally named the La Raza National Lawyers Association ("La Raza"). The name was changed to the Hispanic National Bar Association in 1984.
- La Raza's first campaign was a Western Union telegram, signed by each founder, that was transmitted to President Nixon and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, calling for the withdrawal of William Rehnquist's nomination because of anti- civil rights actions and views.
- Through its 40-year history, the HNBA will have had 33 Presidents, including current President Benny Agosto, Jr. of Texas (2011-2012) and President-Elect Peter M. Reyes, Jr. of Minnesota (2012-2013).
- The HNBA's first president and co-founder was Mario G. Obledo (1971-1976), a pioneer in civil rights, political activist, state official, and leader and founder of many organizations including MALDEF. He was called the "Godfather of the Latino Movement". He died in 2010.
- Seven Latinas have served as HNBA National Presidents. Mari Carmen Aponte (1983-1984) was the first female president of the HNBA.
- The HNBA created the first national directory of Hispanic lawyers in 1985.
- The HNBA has had a National office and staff since 1994, when President Mary Hernandez hired the HNBA's first Executive Director. Now, the National Office has six full-time staff members who oversee the HNBA's Administration, Membership, Events, Programs, and Communications.
The HNBA is committed to cultivating the pipeline of Hispanic legal professionals by supporting and mentoring the future of our profession and our community.
- Law students comprise 20 percent of the HNBA and have their own Law Student Division, which coordinates professional development, networking, and other programming for student members at each of HNBA's major national events and year-round.
- The HNBA's Annual Uvaldo Herrera National Moot Court Competition is now in its 17th year. This year it will be held during the 2012 Midyear Corporate Counsel Conference in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Competition enables students to hone their brief-writing and oral advocacy skills while exploring a complex legal issue, and to form relationships with the judges and practitioners at the Conference.
- The Moot Court Competition is named for the late Uvaldo Herrera, former HNBA General Counsel, Vice President of Programs and champion of the Competition. Uvaldo died in 2011 after a courageous battle with cancer.
- The HNBA's Annual Convention hosts the nation's largest Latino student Career Fair, offering Hispanic law students unmatched opportunities to network and interview with the country's top law firms, corporations, and government agencies.
- The HNBA's commitment to fostering an understanding of and interest in the law among Latino youth begins well before law school. The HNBA holds its Youth Symposium at its Annual Convention, bringing together high school and college students to learn about the American legal system and careers in the law from attorney experts, including lawyers from the private and public sectors.
- La Promesa en el Derecho™ (The Promise in the Law) is an HNBA community outreach and education initiative designed to instill confidence and trust in the U.S. legal system. In 2007, the HNBA published a booklet that explains the American system of government, written in both English and Spanish at the 9th grade reading level. In addition to being a community education tool, La Promesa is intended to encourage interest in the law among Latino students, as part of the HNBA's larger mission to promote the growth of the Hispanic legal pipeline.
- The HNBA has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to law students throughout its existence. This year, HNBA National President, Benny Agosto, Jr. has committed to awarding an additional $100,000 to Latino law students in the HNBA's 19 regions nationwide.
- The HNBA Legal Education Fund ("The Fund") was founded in April 2010 by the HNBA as its charitable and educational arm. The Fund, the only IRS Section 501(c)(3) entity affiliated with the HNBA, supports the HNBA's educational and charitable missions, including identifying and providing financial assistance to students and developing programs that address education and the law within the U.S. Hispanic community and legal profession.
- The HNBA Journal of Law and Policy was first published in 2008, with the purpose of providing a forum for the examination, investigation, and review of legal issues and law-related policy pertaining to the Hispanic legal profession and that impacts the U.S. Hispanic Community. The HNBA has published three editions of the Journal.
The HNBA continually launches new initiatives, improves programming and advocacy work, and is active in developing policy at the state and national level to grow and strengthen our network, voice, and influence across the country.
- The HNBA Endorsements Program endorses and promotes the selection of qualified Hispanics as judicial candidates at the federal, state, and local levels through its Judiciary Committee, as well as candidates for appointed federal executive positions such as U. S. Attorneys and posts in the U.S. Department of Justice through its Executive Endorsements Committee. Since its inception in 2008, the HNBA Endorsements Program has seen 32 HNBA-endorsed candidates nominated and confirmed, including judges, U.S. Attorneys, and other executive appointees.
- The HNBA has endorsed five Supreme Court nominees: David Souter (1990), Ruth Bader Ginsberg (1993), Stephen Breyer (1994), Sonia Sotomayor (2009), and Elena Kagan (2010).
- As part of its lifelong mission to get a Latino/a appointed to the Supreme Court, the HNBA organized a nationwide campaign in support of nominee Sonia Sotomayor in 2009. The HNBA campaign included the identification of candidates for the vacancy on the Supreme Court, conducting due diligence and evaluation of Judge Sotomayor as a candidate, and maintaining a constant presence in the press surrounding her nomination.
- On July 16, 2009, then HNBA President Ramona Romero testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in support of Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation. The HNBA was the only national Latino organization to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- The HNBA has held 36 Annual Conventions in different cities around the U.S. and Puerto Rico, bringing together our members and other attorneys, judges, and students for Continuing Legal Education panels with top legal experts, speeches by national policymakers and leaders, and networking events and workshops, the Career Fair, and the Youth Symposium.
- The First HNBA Annual Convention was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1973. In 2012, the 37th Annual Convention will take place in Seattle, Washington.
- HNBA's annual Legislative Day began in 2007 and serves to further the HNBA legislative agenda before Congress and executive branch officials through direct grassroots advocacy by our members. It also educates HNBA members from around the country about public policy issues and the federal legislative process.
- In 2009, the HNBA created the HNBA Standing Commission on the Status of Latinas in the Legal Profession, with the mission of studying the barriers and issues that Latinas, who make up only 1.3 percent of American lawyers, face, and how these issues affect their experiences and career advancement.
- The HNBA Latina Commission published the National Study of the Status of Latinas in the Legal Profession, titled "Few and Far Between: The Reality of Latina Lawyers," in 2009. The groundbreaking study was the first of its kind to provide both qualitative and quantitative data on the experiences and status of Latinas in the legal profession, on a national level and across all major legal sectors.
- The HNBA is a member of the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), just two of many ways the HNBA advocates for the Hispanic legal community directly before the White House and Congress. The HNBA also partners with other bar associations such as the American Bar Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel.
- In 2009, the HNBA and the ABA worked together for the first time through an integration of their respective International Law Sections. A panel comprised of HNBA members spoke at the ABA International Law Section 2009 Fall Meeting in Miami, Florida, with ABA and HNBA leaders present.
- In 2003, the HNBA, in conjunction with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, wrote an amici curiae brief asserting the constitutionality and necessity of the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy in the Supreme Court cases of Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger.
- In 2010, the HNBA joined as amici curiae on a brief against Arizona's controversial anti-immigrant bill, S.B. 1070, along with prominent legal and civil rights organizations, including the National Council of La Raza.
- In 2010, the HNBA launched its first interactive action campaign for passage of the DREAM Act. The HNBA launched a DREAM web page with news, information, and campaign updates; created an online petition; and mobilized members to contact their legislators. Over 1,000 supporters signed the petition.
- On the occasion of the first-ever U.S. Senate hearing on the DREAM Act before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, the HNBA submitted written testimony outlining the legal, economic and national security arguments that demonstrate the case for the DREAM Act. Committee staff called it the most comprehensive testimony received.
- In 2010, the HNBA hosted its first national Corporate Counsel Conference, which provides a unique opportunity to connect corporate counsel from Fortune 500 companies with diverse outside counsel. The Third Annual Corporate Counsel Conference will take place from March 28-31, 2012, in Jersey City, New Jersey.
- In 2011, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary unanimously confirmed the appointment of Jimmie V. Reyna to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Judge Reyna, a past President of the HNBA and Ohtli Award recipient (a high honor provided by the Mexican Government) is the first Latino to be appointed to the Federal Circuit.
- This year, the HNBA launched the Veterans Legal Initiative Program, a new effort to provide free legal services to the men and women of the American armed services and their families. The Veterans Initiative will organize HNBA members to volunteer at local Departments of Veterans' Affairs, American Legion posts, and Veterans of Foreign Wars locations, as well as opening their own free legal clinics to offer assistance to veterans who are unable to afford legal services.
HNBA is now online, electronic, and social!
- The HNBA launched its official website, www.hnba.com, in 1998.
- Since 2006, the HNBA distributes e-Noticias, the biweekly online newsletter, to its members via email. E-Noticias includes general news about the HNBA and its national activities, regional events and updates, profiles of members and their accomplishments, and opportunities for law students and attorneys to advance their careers.
- You can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter (@HNBAnews) for news, events, photos, videos, and live-tweeted events such as the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the DREAM Act.
SOURCE Hispanic National Bar Association