Welcome! ¡Bienvenidxs! Bem-vindo!

Founded in 1984-1985, the Latino/a Law Students' Association (LaLSA)* provides a forum for Latino/a issues, both international and domestic, that are important to current students of the American University, Washington College of Law (WCL).

* Formerly known as the Hispanic Law Students’ Association (HLSA) from 1984-2006

Our Mission

Our main objective is to promote awareness of issues facing the Latino/a community in the U.S. and abroad, with a focus on Latino/a law students and attorneys in the legal profession. We aim to encourage increased participation of Latinos/as in the legal community through programs designed to assist law students in all aspects of student life, from law school admissions to life after graduation, including networking opportunities, expert panels and seminars, community service projects, and debates on Latino/a issues.

Together with our sister organization, the Latina/o Alumni Association of the Washington College of Law (LAAW), founded in 2006, we aim to support diversity in the legal profession and justice for all communities. To learn more about LaLSA, read our by-laws here.

Our Inspiration

“The end of all knowledge should be service to others…Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures...Talk is cheap [] It is the way we organize and use our lives every day that tells what we believe in." César E. Chávez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers

"If you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't, then you are wasting your time on earth." Roberto Clemente, Major League Baseball Pittsburgh Pirates

"Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience." Paulo Coelho, award-winning novelist who is best known for The Alchemist, which has been translated into 80 languages and sold more than 65 million copies

“When opportunity presents itself, grab it. Hold on tight and don’t let go.” Celia Cruz, one of the highest selling artists of all time

"Every single immigrant we have, documented or undocumented, is a future American." Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

“Black Lives Matter.” Alicia Garza, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter

"Si Se Puede!" Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, feminist icon

"Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?" Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter and feminist icon

"Ignorance is the enemy... [e]ducation is the vaccine to violence." George Lopez, comedian, actor, and producer together with Edward James Olmos, actor ad producer respectively

“Freedoms, like privileges, prevail or are imperiled together. You cannot harm or strive to achieve one without harming or furthering all.” José Marti, Father of Cuban Independence and Latin American hero

“Peace cannot exist without justice; justice cannot exist without fairness; fairness cannot exist without development; development cannot exist without democracy; democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and people.” Rigoberta Menchu, Indigenous Rights Advocate and Nobel Prize Winner

“Separate is never equal…” Sylvia Mendez, a plaintiff in the historic Mendez v. Westminster case which served as legal precedent for Brown v. Board of Education on school desegregation

"My perseverance paid off." Rita Moreno, first female entertainer to achieve the coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony)

"[] in any society, there are going to be people who have resources and political influence, and they like it that way. And there are many people who lack those important items in society. So it's up to us who have a little bit of training to try to equalize matters somewhat." The Honorable Cruz Reynoso, the First Latino to serve on the California Supreme Court

“They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.” Origin unknown, as stated by Monsignor Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated by death squad in 1980

"Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich." U.S. Supreme Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Julia Alvarez's Did I Redeem Myself? From 'The Woman I Kept to Myself'

Did I redeem myself, Mami? Papi? Was I the native child you dreamed up as you lay in the foreign bed you’d made your first and failed exile in New York? Did I excuse your later desertion, leaving your friends behind to die? Did I help to reframe that choice as sacrifice: you gave your girls the lives they would have missed growing up in a double tyranny of patriarchy and dictatorship?

Did I redeem myself, my sisters, for those nights I kept you up with Chaucer lullabies? My love poems at your weddings? My calls at midnight with a broken heart? And you, dear lovers whom I mistook for husbands, do you forgive me for forsaking you? I heard—or thought I heard—a stronger call. This love did prove the truest, after all. And friends, can this be tender for your care? Have I kept some of my promises here? But harder still, my two Americas. Quisqueya, did I pay my debt to you, drained by dictatorship and poverty of so much talent? Did I get their ear, telling your stories in the sultan’s court until they wept our tears? And you, Oh Beautiful, whose tongue wooed me to service, have I proved my passion would persist beyond my youth? Finally, my readers what will you decide when all that’s left of me will be these lines?

Pablo Neruda's Ode to Maize

America, from a grain of maize you grew to crown with spacious lands the ocean foam. A grain of maize was your geography. From the grain a green lance rose, was covered with gold, to grace the heights of Peru with its yellow tassels.

But, poet, let history rest in its shroud; praise with your lyre the grain in its granaries: sing to the simple maize in the kitchen.

First, a fine beard fluttered in the field above the tender teeth of the young ear. Then the husks parted and fruitfulness burst its veils of pale papyrus that grains of laughter might fall upon the earth. To the stone, in your journey, you returned. Not to the terrible stone, the bloody triangle of Mexican death, but to the grinding stone, sacred stone of your kitchens. There, milk and matter, strength-giving, nutritious cornmeal pulp, you were worked and patted by the wondrous hands of dark-skinned women.

Wherever you fall, maize, whether into the splendid pot of partridge, or among country beans, you light up the meal and lend it your virginal flavor.

Oh, to bite into the steaming ear beside the sea of distant song and deepest waltz. To boil you as your aroma spreads through blue sierras.

But is there no end to your treasure?

In chalky, barren lands bordered by the sea, along the rocky Chilean coast, at times only your radiance reaches the empty table of the miner.

Your light, your cornmeal, your hope pervades America's solitudes, and to hunger your lances are enemy legions.

Within your husks, like gentle kernels, our sober provincial children's hearts were nurtured, until life began to shuck us from the ear.