by Isaac Faz and Javier Perez
Members of the DHBA board at the 2018 swearing-in ceremony and reception.
As we kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association (DHBA) celebrates its culture and commitment to the community. The DHBA honors the camino recorrido, “the path traveled,” but also looks adelante, “up the road ahead.”
Since 1969, the DHBA (then-known as the Mexican American Bar Association of Dallas) has united attorneys from across the Metroplex to promote the social, economic, educational, and civic advancement of the Hispanic community. These efforts, whose inception was sparked by the Civil Rights movement, endeavor to make our legal system more accessible to the Hispanic community and responsive to its needs.
The DHBA was founded by seven local trailblazing attorneys. Frank P. Hernandez, Manuel Almaguer, Florentino “Tino” Ramirez, Adelfa Botello Callejo, William F. Callejo, Adolph P. Canales, and Eugenio Carorla spent their careers working tirelessly to improve community access to a judicial system that was out of reach for far too long. Recently, the DHBA helped sponsor the memorial monument of Adelfa B. Callejo and congratulated Tino Ramirez on receiving the DBA’s 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Justice Award.
Throughout its nearly 50-year history, the DHBA has been on the front lines to engage difficult issues that impact our community—even, and especially when, it was not popular to do so. This year, the DHBA stepped forward on the issues of immigration and citizenship, which come with both controversy and opportunity.
In responding to the issues of the moment, the DHBA sponsored DACA workshops, citizenship clinics, and a CLE to aid separated families at the border. In recent years, the DHBA also organized efforts to aid the 52,000 Central American children fleeing harm across our southern border. This committee mobilized attorneys who directly represented many unaccompanied children under the supervision of experienced immigration attorneys.
DHBA’s ongoing efforts include a Latina Leadership Program aimed at addressing obstacles for Latinas in the legal field, a Youth Law Symposium where area high school students hear from a diverse set of legal practitioners, and the ever-popular Conozca Sus Derechos (Know Your Rights) community engagement series to educate the public about areas of the law that affect the Latino community.
In pursuit of diversifying the profession, the DHBA signed an agreement this year to create an endowed scholarship at Texas A&M School of Law (interestingly both writers of this article are Longhorns). This partnership stems from the DHBA’s Noche de Luz gala which supports pipeline initiatives. Mil gracias to our sponsors of all sizes who support Noche de Luz.
Moving adelante, the DHBA asks you to join in these impactful efforts – specifically to diversify the legal profession with more Latinos, to increase access to justice for those who are undocumented and precluded from receiving much existing legal aid, and to increase civility and voter participation at all levels of government.
You can begin by joining the DHBA at its Noche de Luz gala on September 22, 2018, at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Visit DallasHispanicbar.com and follow us on social media @DallasHBA for more information.
Isaac Faz, DHBA President, is the Chief Legislative Counsel for the Dallas County Community College District and can be reached at email@example.com. Javier Perez, DHBA President Elect, is a partner at Scott Perez LLP and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.