HNBA Standing Commission on the Status of Latinas in the Legal Profession




The Hispanic National Bar Association’s Commission on the Status of Latinas in the Legal Profession is accepting nominations for its 5th Annual HNBA Latina Commission Award.  The Latina Commission established it’s Award to honor and recognize the Latinas who have left their indelible mark on the legal profession and the Hispanic community through their extraordinary work and contributions. Past award recipients include Justice Sonia Sotomayor, The Honorable Maricarmen Aponte, Judge Rosemary Barkett and Norma Ramos, Esq., Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.  Nominations are being accepted through July 15, 2013.  Please click here to submit YOUR nomination.
Please direct any questions regarding the Latina Commission or the Latina Commission’s Award to Co-Chairs, Mercedes M. Sellek, Esq. at or Monica MacGregor, Director,  The Latina Commission Award will be presented during the HNBA’s 38th Annual Convention being held in Denver, CO, September 4-7, 2013, and is separate and distinct from the HNBA’s Latina Lawyer of the Year Award.



Nuestra Voz, Nuestro Futuro
The Hispanic National Bar Association’s Commission on the Status of Latinas in the Profession is sponsoring a Public Interest Latina Leadership Workshop to inspire and train the next generation of diverse leaders in public interest law.  In 2010, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) commissioned a national study, “La Voz de la Abogada Latina:  Challenges and Rewards in Serving the Public Interest.”  The research findings suggest that Latinas are not well represented in leadership positions in public interest and government organizations and that there is a need to create programs to help minimize barriers to promotion and professional success.  The research conducted by the HNBA provides the foundation for this innovative and ground breaking training for Latinas working in the public interest sector.

The Latina Leadership Program is open to attorneys who have been in practice for 5 or more years at legal services, public interest nonprofit organizations, and government positions, including military personnel.  Space is limited, so we encourage interested individuals to apply without delay.  Additional requirements for eligibility include (a) Good standing in the bar of your current state of admission; and (b) Confirmed membership in the Hispanic National Bar Association- to apply to become a member of the HNBA, click here.

To download the application, click here. The deadline to submit application is February 8, 2013, and applicants will be notified by February 15, 2013. Applications and questions should be sent to




“Few and Far Between: The Reality of Latinas in the Legal Profession” was the culmination of a year-long study conducted by the Commission exploring and documenting the obstacles facing Latina lawyers in the profession. The Commission selected Professor Melinda S. Molina (St. John’s University School of Law) and PhD candidate Jill Cruz (JLC Consulting, Cincinnati, Ohio) to serve as project researchers and writers. On December 5, 2008, the Commission launched its national study by hosting its first focus group of Latina Lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona; a total of 11 focus groups were held throughout the United States, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Antonio, Miami, New York, New Jersey/Delaware, Washington, Albuquerque and Denver. A national survey of Latina lawyers was conducted in spring 2009.  For more information and instructions on for purchasing a copy of the Commission’s Report, please click here.

Few and Far Between: The Reality of Latinas in the Legal Profession” (September 2010)



In 2008, the Commission created an Annual Award honoring Latina (pioneer) attorneys who have made significant contributions to the legal profession and/or the Latino community. The first award recipient was Justice Sonia Sotomayor who was honored at the Commission’s inaugural luncheon held at the HNBA’s Annual Convention in Albuquerque. Others honored at the luncheon were Mari Carmen Aponte, who received the HNBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Cristina Hernandez-Malaby who was the HNBA’s Latina Attorney of the Year. The Honorable Eric V. Holder was the Commission’s keynote speaker.

Local pioneers recognized at the luncheon were Latina lawyers Patricia Madrid, Justice Petra Maes, Judge M. Christina Armijo, Helen Laura Lopez, Chief Judge Martha Vazquez and Margaret Montoya.

The Commission will host its second Annual Luncheon at the HNBA’s Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota in September 2010.



MARCH 5-7, 2009, MIAMI, FLORIDA. The Commission sponsored a successful (“standing room only”) panel at the HNBA Mid-Year Convention on Friday, March 5 entitled, “Today’s Latina Attorneys: Transforming Challenges into Opportunities.” Panelists were: Mary Hernandez, founding partner, Garcia Calderon Ruiz LLP; Betty Cerini, Senior Law Partner at Dewey & Leboeu, New York; Patricia Diaz Dennis, (recently retired) General Counsel, AT&T Communications; Clara Boza, Principal of CB Marketing & Communications; and Mari Carmen Aponte, Co-Chair of HNBA Appointments Committee and Commissioner.

MARCH 4-6, SAN DIEGO, WESTIN HOTEL GASLAMP QUARTER. The Commission will be hosting its Mid-Year Program at the HNBA’s Mid-Year Convention in San Diego, California. “A Summit: the Glass Ceiling Problem in the Suppliers with Which Your Companies Do Business.” This program will feature a formal discussion between the panelists and the audience about the status of Latina lawyers practicing in the private and the public sectors; the need for immediate and sustainable improvement; and how you can use your position of influence to make a difference.



In 1994, the HNBA produced a documentary on 21 of the first Latina lawyers licensed in the United States dating back to 1938. Commissioners Mary Hernandez and Dolores Atencio wrote, directed and produced a slide show that was featured at the HNBA’s Annual Convention in San Francisco. Loyola Law School provided funding for the slide show to be converted into an hour long video documentary.

In 2008, under the newly-formed Commission, the Las Primeras history project was reactivated and research resumed to find Latinas lawyers licensed prior to 1938.

The Commission plans to complete its research and publish a History of Latina Lawyers in September 2010.