I am both honored and privileged to serve as the President of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association. Our members’ commitment to serving our profession and our community are but a few reasons why I have the upmost respect for our Bar Association and look to this year with profound inspiration to continue our great legacy.
The mission of the LIHBA is to promote and foster the advancement of Hispanic attorneys and our community on Long Island. Our Past-presidents created a scholarship fund and an internship program to aide our law students and provide them with opportunities to work at some of Long Island’s most prestigious law firms. Thank you to the participating law firms and our sponsors who recognize the importance of supporting the LIHBA and our programs. On October 1st, at the installation of our new board, we distributed $30,000.00 in scholarships to six deserving law students because of the generous support of our sponsors and members. Thank you.
The LIHBA Board and I are hard at work developing programs for this coming year and addressing relevant legal issues that affect our community such as the lack of diversity in our Courts. As President, I want to continue our past initiatives but also ensure that we are advancing as a Bar Association. One new initiative is the formation of the New Lawyers Committee (“NLC”). The NLC will focus on networking and pipeline programs in professional development geared toward the New Lawyer.
I also want to strengthen the LIHBA’s relationship with our law student members and create mentorship opportunities that are mutually beneficial to both the mentee and mentor. While the mentee has a lot to gain from the experiences of a seasoned attorney, our more experienced members can learn a lot from the insightfulness of our new generation of lawyers.
Our members will continue to see the benefits of their LIHBA membership as we continue to sponsor CLE programs. We expect that by the end of my term, the LIHBA will be able to apply for CLE accreditation.
This year we were unfortunately reminded again of the reality of the longstanding tensions concerning race. The LIHBA recognizes that the racial justice movement begins with having real dialogue about the racism that exists in our cultures. The LIHBA will be hosting a program where we will highlight the history and experience of Afro-Latinos, the racism in our own cultures and our role in the current racial justice movement.
This past year our community’s resilience was also tested with the COVID-19 pandemic. The LIHBA responded to the calls for assistance as our community was disproportionately affected by the pandemic and there was a tremendous need to provide legal information to our constituents. As the President-elect, I had the fortune of working alongside my predecessor the Honorable Judge Linda K. Mejias. The highlight of Judge Mejias’ tenure was the creation of the Legal Information Program that provides accurate and free legal information to our constituents via our newly created you tube channel and up to a 1-hour free legal consultation. I intend to continue and expand on this wonderful program and provide our constituents Know Your Rights programs in immigration, education law, tenant rights, and a program for small business owners. These programs will be recorded in both English and Spanish. We will also continue to sponsor food and back to school drives for our community, and hopefully, welcome back our anticipated prom dress drive.
The LIHBA will also look to see ways we can engage with our younger students from underserved schools who show an interest in the law.
I invite you to become active members of the LIHBA and join our committees and support these initiatives and programs. I welcome your suggestions and ideas and I look forward to working with all of you.
Liza Milgrim-Reyes, Esq.
President of the LIHBA