By Lisa S. Lenkiewicz
In the fall of 1993, a committed group of Hispanic lawyers, meeting in New Haven, formed the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association (CHBA). Among their original and lofty goals were to enhance the visibility of Hispanic lawyers in the state and to work on specific Latino and Hispanic issues. Twenty years later, the group has much of which to be proud.
Membership and honorees in the bar group include more than 100 lawyers, among them recent appointments to the Connecticut state judiciary, the first Hispanic to serve on the United States Supreme Court, the first Hispanics to serve as judges on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the first Hispanic state commissioner and the first Hispanic to run for attorney general.
While precise statistics are difficult to ascertain, CHBA President, Attorney Erick Diaz, estimates Hispanic attorneys account for only 1.5 percent of all attorneys in Connecticut. However, other Hispanic attorneys may have a non-Hispanic name or do not self-identify as such, he explained.
In addition, Diaz believes the number of Hispanic attorneys who are partners in mid-size to large-size firms in the state is less than one percent of the total partners at these firms.
“Considering that about 14 percent of Connecticut’s population is Hispanic,” said Diaz, “we are clearly underrepresented in the partnership ranks at mid-to-large law firms in Connecticut.”
While there remains a need to increase diversity in Connecticut’s legal profession, CHBA has achieved great progress in only two decades. Diaz, counsel of The Hayber Law Firm in Hartford, proudly lists some of these key CHBA achievements:
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