Mexican American Bar Association of Houston
History of the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston (“MABAH”)
In 1972, Professor/Judge Lupe S. Salinas, along with his mentor at the Houston Legal Foundation, Jose Rojo, deceased, co-founded MABAH, the first ethnic minority bar association in the State of Texas. In 2012, MABAH enters its 40th year of service to the Hispanic legal profession and, most importantly, to the Hispanic community. It is one of the largest Hispanic law organizations in Texas with a diversity of talent, expertise and leadership. MABAH has established itself as one of the most effective, specialized bar associations of the State Bar of Texas and carries the distinction of being a founding chapter of The Mexican American Bar Association of Texas and one of the first Texas chapters of the Hispanic National Bar Association. MABAH is proud of the diverse nationalities of its members: Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Cuban, African-American, Anglo and Chinese. After years of service, MABAH continues to be heavily involved in many community events, as described below.
MABAH’s mission is to maintain and elevate standards of professional conduct, to increase professional skills through continuing legal education, to improve the opportunities for and promote recognition of the capabilities of Hispanic attorneys, to encourage its members to participate in pro-bono legal services, to speak on behalf of the Hispanic community on legal issues affecting the community, and to promote a better understanding of the legal profession to the Hispanic community and the public.
MABAH has numerous committees dedicated to accomplish its mission. What follows is a sampling of those committees and the work they are involved in to meet the needs of the Hispanic legal profession and community:
- Civil Rights Committee – Under the leadership of Committee Chair, Professor/Judge Lupe Salinas, MABAH members are actively involved in legal, political, educational, and social activities affecting the Hispanic community. Currently, MABAH is financially supporting a redistricting lawsuit pending in federal court addressing the constitutionality of the precinct lines drawn for elective position on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court, the governing body responsible for the Greater Houston Metropolitan area.
- Consejos Legales – Since 1986, MABAH has co-sponsored with the Houston Bar Association, a monthly call-a-lawyer project which provides important free legal advice in Spanish to the Spanish-speaking community.
- Law School Liaison — A mentorship and scholarship program through which MABAH members provide financial, networking, and mentorship support to law students attending the three Houston area law schools. MABAH’s Annual Law Students’ Picnic enables law students to network with MABAH members and members of the local judiciary.
- Continuing Legal Education — Every MABAH monthly general membership meeting is preceded by a one-hour CLE presentation addressing current legal issues of interest to the bar. Past CLE speakers have included Texas Supreme Court Justices David Medina and Eva Guzman, as well as Texas State District Judges Josefina Rendon, Maria T. Jackson, Reece Rondon, Steven E. Kirkland, Mike Engelhart, Hazel B. Jones, and Joseph J. “Tad” Halbach Jr.
- Newly-Licensed Attorney Reception – On an annual basis, MABAH honors the admittance of new attorney members into the Houston legal community. This past year, in addition to recognizing the new attorneys, this past year, MABAH also honored Senior Texas District Court Judge A.D. Azios, the first Hispanic Judge elected in Harris County, Texas, and recognized the recent appointments of MABAH members: former Judge and now Harris County Commissioner R. Jack Cagle and Judge Debra Ibarra Mayfield, the first Hispanic female appointed to her Harris County Civil Court at Law bench.
- Leadership for Tomorrow – MABAH’s educational and leadership program through which MABAH members are able to mentor students in middle and senior high schools in the Latino community.
- Judicial Screening and Endorsement Committee — MABAH provides all area judicial candidates with the opportunity to interview with MABAH members regarding their candidacy prior to endorsement by MABAH’s general membership. MABAH is pleased to offer this important informational program and service to the community.
- East End Law Day Poster Workshop — This annual event is co-sponsored jointly with the Houston Bar Association and Hispanic Bar Association of Houston in celebration of the ABA’s Law Week. At the workshop, we work with Latino children to assist them in drawing posters relating to the designated Law Day theme. In 2010 and 2011, MABAH and its co-sponsors received awards from the ABA and the State Bar of Texas for their involvement in this program. In our recent 2012 workshop, Benny Agosto, HNBA President, and a Director of MABAH, attended and spoke to the children about the role of lawyers and introduced Justice Elsa Alcala, of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, who spoke about the Law Day theme: “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.”