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Hispanic National Bar Association Celebrates Forty Years of Service By Rebecca E. Neely In 2012, The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) celebrates its fortieth year as the National Voice of the Hispanic Legal Community®. Founded in 1972, the HNBA’s mission has evolved to include building a legal profession that reflects diversity, fostering up and coming Hispanic law students and legal professionals, and to serve as an advocate for the Hispanic community.

Benny Agosto, Jr., HNBA National President, was quoted as saying in the February 14th sacbee.com article, “Hispanic National Bar Association Celebrates 40th Anniversary”: “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. 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 has been a major player in landmark initiatives including Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination and confirmation, the DREAM Act campaign, and the very first National Study on the Status of Latinas in the Legal Profession, to name a few. The HNBA supports networking and professional development among Hispanic attorneys, judges and students. The organization also acts as a link between members and the nation’s policy makers.

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Per information at the organization’s website, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) is an incorporated, not-forprofit, national membership organization representing the interests of over 100, 000 Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, and law students in the United States and its territories. Divided into nineteen regions, each has a president who is elected by local members. On a national level, HNBA is directed by a board of governors. There is also a law student division. Mario G. Obledo, who died in 2010, served as the HNBA’s first president and co-founder. He was known as the “Godfather of the Latino Movement”. He was a political activist, state official, and a pioneer in the civil rights movement. He also founded multiple organizations, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. It is often referred to as the “law firm of the Latino community”. MALDEF supports social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.

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Hispanic National Bar Association Celebrates Forty Years of Service