Annual Hispanic Law Conference Examines the Evolving Legal Landscape, Recognizes Contributions to the Community

Event Dedicated to the Progress of Latinos and Latinas in the U.S. and in the Hemisphere

American University Washington College of Law hosted the 16th Annual Hispanic Law Conference, held each spring as part of the law school’s Founders’ Celebration. 

The event was attended by nearly 150, gathering Latinos and Latinas from across the country and hemisphere—from Miami, to New York, to Puerto Rico—to discuss how the legal landscape is evolving.

The annual event is sponsored by the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Associations of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, the Latino/a Alumni Association of American University Washington College of Law, and American University Washington College of Law’s Latino/a Law Students’ Association.

“The vision of this institution is to provide a superb education to everyone, and you cannot provide that unless you anticipate the nation and the world where we live, and the composition of the classes, the faculty, and the administration of the institution,” said Claudio Grossman, dean of American University Washington College of Law, in his welcoming remarks to the group. “Diversity is not a concession but a requirement to provide a sound education and experience to everyone. We’re greatly benefitted by the presence of Latinos and Latinas in our school, around 37% of the entering class are minorities.”

Local high school students joined AUWCL students and Hispanic Law School deans, current students, and recent graduates in the morning for a discussion about life as a college student, the importance of receiving a college education, and their goals for the future. They also participated in a constitutional literacy workshop, led by one of the law school’s Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project fellows, covering the 14th, 15th and 19th amendments of the United States Constitution and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Afternoon panels featured discussions of the benefits of legal education, the future of legal education in the Hispanic community, and opportunities available to law school graduates beyond traditional Hispanic legal markets. Panelists included Hispanic deans and professors, government administrators, and practitioners—many of whom are AUWCL alumni.  

(Pictured right: The Honorable Jenny Rivera speaks on a panel about the future of legal education in the Hispanic community.)

The last panel of the day, “Trailblazing a New Course: Pioneers in the Current Legal Landscape,” addressed the changes and challenges of the current legal landscape, and discussed strategies for attracting and supporting Hispanic students in legal education.

Juan Milanes ’91, Esq. advised law students in the audience to pursue externship opportunities.

 “As a very wonderful mentor told me, make yourself valuable and you will control your destiny, learn the skills and learn the things that make you valuable to others and you will always have a job,” said Milanes.

Natasha Quiroga, a 2008 graduate, emphasized the importance of obtaining internships or job opportunities beyond the Latino community.

“Utilize all networks that you have available to you whether through your law school network, your undergraduate network, any other professional organizations, fraternities, or sororities, because that’s the best way that you can really channel those networks and those connections,” said Quiroga.  “It might not lead to a job, but it might lead to some really great advice or some really great relationships to understand how you can attain your chosen career.”

The annual awards dinner was held at the end of the day in recognition of those individuals who have significantly contributed to the progress of the Latino community. Opening remarks were given by Dean Claudio Grossman and Hispanic National Bar Association President Peter Reyes, featuring a keynote address from Stephen N. Zack, former president of the American Bar Association.

(Pictured left: Dean Claudio Grossman and Professor Robert Goldman with Jaime Farrant '02, recipient of the Goldman-Grossman Award)

The Honorable Jenny Rivera, recently confirmed associate judge for the New York State Courts of Appeal and AUWCL visiting professor in 2011, and Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno of the US Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division were recognized for their accomplishments at the dinner as well.


View the list of awards and awardees.