The ongoing pandemic and social reckoning on racial inequities in the United States have served as a reminder that institutions must look like the people that they serve. The legal system is fundamental to the United States’ system of a democratic government and it is vital that future generations have appropriate role models to look up to in order to have hope of entering these spaces as professionals.
San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association (“SDLRLA”) was founded in 1976 and incorporated in 1979 by a small and visionary group of Latino/a/x lawyers with a mission to empower the Latino/a/x community through education, advocacy and service. Since its inception, SDLRLA has grown to become San Diego’s premier and largest Latino/a/x bar association. Its ranks include lawyers in large and small law firms, lawyers in government organizations, local elected officials, law students and non-lawyer supporters from numerous racial and ethnic backgrounds. This panoply of diverse professionals comprises an equally diverse tapestry of heroic experiences.
Today, SDLRLA is still a community of Latino/a/x attorneys and their community partners who are dedicated to justice, equality and the empowerment of the Latino/a/x community and diverse people. It is led by 15 volunteer board members who are all attorneys that give their time, talent and treasure to advance the cause. They are dedicated to promoting diversity on both the bench and the bar.
However, SDLRLA’s mission is no small task. Approximately 34% of San Diego County’s population is Latino/a/x, yet only about 11% of San Diego Superior Court judges are Latino/a/x. These numbers are only a small reflection of the monumental hurdles that stand in the way of young Latinos/as/xs achieving a career in law as lawyers or judges. Thankfully, the Latino/a/x community and SDLRLA have the renowned characteristics of perseverance, resolve and resourcefulness to continue the work of leveling the playing field.
In recent years, SDLRLA has embarked on a journey of growth to meet increasing demands. In 2019, SDLRLA adopted a Strategic Plan that seeks to accomplish five measurable goals: 1) invest in infrastructure, including the creation of a new 501(c)(3) charitable organization; 2) expand membership options and opportunities; 3) deliver additional programs and services; 4) provide additional community engagement opportunities; and 5) maintain a culture of inclusivity. Since the adoption of its Strategic Plan, SDLRLA has formed new community partnerships with law firms, legal services companies and other nonprofit organizations. Excitement to support this cause is growing because it has become increasingly clear how important it is to have the appropriate representation of Latino/a/x individuals in the legal system.
SDLRLA invites individuals and organizations throughout San Diego County and beyond to join them in supporting their essential work of empowering the Latino/a/x community and strengthening the binational and one-of-a-kind region of San Diego-Tijuana. Those who wish to support SDLRLA in its mission can do so at various sponsorship levels. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities please visit SDLRLA at www.sdlrla.com.