Dan Baldwin 2013-03-06 00:51:08
Arizona’s Most Effective Latino Advocacy Organization Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association was founded in 1976 and incorporated in 1988 as an advocacy organization for the area’s growing Latino community, Latino attorneys and the community at large. The organization celebrates its 38th anniversary this year. “Our goal is to keep our eyes and ears open and to see what’s needed out there. We try to make our outreach to the community stronger each year. We try to serve our members by providing worthwhile benefits each year. We’re always striving to do better,” says Gaetano Testini, president. The Primary Purposes Of The Organization Are: • to enhance the quality of legal service provided to the community, • to educate the Hispanic community regarding its rights and remedies and the availability of legal services, • to receive and administer funds for the promotion and advancement of the Hispanic legal profession within the state of Arizona, and • to aid in gathering, exchanging and disseminating facts and information relating to the business methods within the Hispanic legal profession. Los Abogados began as a natural offshoot of the civil rights and Chicano movements of the seventies and the feeling that there needed to be better representation and more and better resources for the Latino community and for law students. The founding members were all members of the League of Mecha, which was a group of law students at ASU who had formed the Mexican-Chicano Association. Current members practice throughout Arizona and many serve as officers and directors of county, state and federal bar associations. Los Abogados is also an affiliate member of the Hispanic National Bar Association. Members include attorneys, judges, law students, paralegals and members in non-legal professions. Testini says, “The three masters we serve are the Latino lawyers, the Latino community, and we work very closely with the state bar.” Membership privileges are numerous and include: timely e-mail and website notification concerning issues affecting the Hispanic community; the ability to track legislative items and bills important to the Latino community; networking opportunities through sponsored events throughout the state; employment listings on work specifically directed to its members; reduced fee CLE; and numerous financial benefits relating to the organization’s functions and services. Los Abogados is active with the Bar Leadership Institute, a program and has enrolled more than a dozen graduates from there. For a second straight year, a majority of our board is composed of graduates or members enrolled in the BLI program. The organization also provides speakers to professional, community and student groups. Several members sit on different committees of the County Bar Association, including the County Bar Association Board of Governors. We Are Involved The Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association is aggressive in supporting its members and its community. Testini says, “We try to make better lawyers in general, especially Latino lawyers because they’re the ones who seem to be paying the most attention to the Latino community. We are involved with a lot of mentorship. For example, if you’re an attorney wanting to do personal injury law, but you’ve never done it, you can call up one of our members and he or she will guide you through it.” Community education through legal and related forums is a major part of the organization’s outreach. “Last year we conducted a forum at the downtown ASU Cronkite School of Journalism regarding the upcoming (at that time) Supreme Court hearing on SB1070. We conducted a forum to educate the community on what the possible outcomes were, what the judges could decide, and what the result would be depending on what they decided.” The event was attended by lawyers from different states, professors, interested persons and was well-covered by the Spanish media. The event was free and open to the public. This year they will host a forum on the importance of the judicial merit selection process. That, too will be free to the community. Los Abogados is actively involved in promoting higher education, particularly as it relates to the law and the legal profession. The Valdemar Cordova Scholarship Program is named for the Hon. Valdemar A. Cordova , who was the first Hispanic federal judge in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. The organization was also instrumental in getting a court house named for the late judge. Testini says, “Cordova attended the University of Arizona and that’s one of the reasons we offer scholarships down there. The judge’s family remains active in our golf tournament, an annual fund-raising tournament in Phoenix with the money raised going to the Cordova program.” Another successful program is the Cecilia D. Esquer-Los Abogados Scholarship Program, in conjunction with Phoenix College, which was created to meet the needs of students interested in a career as a paralegal. Los Abogados considers law students as a “feeder group” and efforts are ongoing to reach out beyond the Phoenix and Tucson areas. “For example, a couple of years ago we went to Yuma, did a push down there, and now we have some members from that part of the state,” Testini says. “We also are involved in political issues. For example, during the recent election we took a formal position on the proposition trying to change merit selection issue. We’re also involved with anything that involves voter suppression. We provide legal observers. We work hand-in-hand with other community groups, such as Fuente and Somos America,” Testini says. The organization’s outreach program is one of the reasons Testini became involved with Los Abogados . “I came back here in 2000 after law school and I didn’t really know anybody in the legal community and I went to an event sponsored by Los Abogados at Cesar Chavez High School. When I attended the event they had done an appellate presentation and it was an event in which an appellate court was hearing a real case in front of the high school kids to show them what goes on in a court proceeding. Afterwards, we had lunch with the appellate judges and the attorneys. After experiencing that programming, I thought that this would be a good group to be involved with. I started attending the meetings. In 2001 I was appointed to the board of directors and now serve as president of the organization.” Community response has been and remains positive. Testini says, “A lot of times the community will reach out to us. I think our reputation is pretty solid. For example, a national organization sent representatives to meet with the community about a major issue last year. When the organization asked who needed to be involved, our name kept popping up. That was a good affirmation that we’re doing some good in the community. We always try to do more.” The state bar has reached out and has put members of the organization in responsible positions. “For example, this year I am the chairman of the committee on minority women in the law. They ask us for speakers. That good relationship is something we’ve worked really hard on to develop during the past few years. We work closely with other groups such as the Arizona Asian-American Bar Association and the Black Bar Association. Because of our size, I think we’re the natural leader, but we work hard with all of them to try to help out however we can.” “We try to be flexible. Whatever the needs may be, we’ll try to be there,” Testini says. The Arizona Asian American Bar Association (AAABA) was founded in 1993 by Judge Thomas Tang. They are a non-profit organization of legal professionals, law students, and members of the community interested in Asian American issues. It is their mission to provide a vehicle and forum for the unified expression of opinions and positions by our members regarding current social, political, economic, legal, and other issues of concern to Asian Americans. They also strive to promote the professional growth of Asian Americans lawyers and assist Asian American law students financially and academically by generating funds and scholarships for their support. AAABA will have its annual scholarship and installation banquet on April 11, 2013 at C-Fu Gourmet Restaurant in Chandler. This banquet funds the Thomas Tang Memorial Law Scholarship awarded to law students in Arizona and other community outreach programs. Supporters may participate as Jade, Platinum, or Gold Sponsors, or as Thomas Tang Memorial Scholarship Donors. This year’s guest speaker is Mr. Michael Kim - an author, consultant, inspirational speaker, NGO founder and North Korea specialist based in Washington DC. IRANIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIARION The Iranian American Bar Association was formed in 2000 in the District of Columbia. Having begun with one chapter and only four founding members, IABA has grown to include nine chapters nationwide and a membership of prominent attorneys, law students, and members of the judiciary. With nine chapters in various metropolitan cities across the country, the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) is one of the most prominent minority bar associations in the United States. IABA chapters hold networking events, publish articles on key legal developments, and provide outreach to lawyers and law students. IABA also provides an annual scholarship to law students looking for assistance and provides lawyer mentors for those seeking guidance. IABA also helps serve the Iranian- American community and the community at-large by providing legal advocacy on important issues. IABA is a professional organization that seeks to educate and inform the Iranian-American community about legal issues of interest and to ensure that the American public at large, our local representatives, and other government officials are fully and accurately informed on legal matters of interest and concern to the Iranian-American community. IABA also strives to foster and promote the achievements of Iranian-American lawyers and other legal professionals. The Phoenix Chapter is hoping to advance these goals and objectives by integrating itself in the Iranian community as well as networking with other legal professionals. The chapter also seeks to promote diversity within the legal profession by associating with sister bar organizations who share common interests. To become a member of the Iranian American Bar Association, Phoenix Chapter visit their website, www.iaba.us.
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