Hispanic Bar Association forms

Local legal leaders form Hispanic Bar

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  • | 12:00 p.m. September 23, 2004
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by Richard Prior

Staff Writer

With the local Hispanic population proliferating like blossoms on a royal palm, a group of better than two dozen judges, attorneys and law students this week formally organized the Hispanic Bar Association of Northeast Florida.

The founding members include Circuit Court judges Waddell Wallace, David Gooding and Jean Johnson; County Court Judge Roberto Arias; U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcia Morales Howard; and U.S. Attorney Paul Perez Jr.

At a special meeting held July 7, Paola Parra was elected temporary chair, and Tatiana Salvador was elected temporary secretary.

On Tuesday, Parra was elected president and Salvador was elected president-elect. Ada Hammond was chosen secretary, Patty Parker was elected treasurer, and Phil Buhler was elected vice president of events.

Terms run until Sept. 30, 2005

The meeting was held in the offices of Rogers Towers, which also provided a traditional Cuban/Latin lunch.

There are seven parts to the association’s mission: to foster fellowship among Hispanic judges, lawyers and law students in Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Baker and Nassau counties; to provide networking opportunities and a referral source for clients; to promote professional development of Hispanic lawyers and law students; and to educate the Hispanic community about relevant legal issues.

The association also will encourage Hispanics to enter the legal profession; provide scholarship opportunities for local schools and take part in community outreach programs; and promote the advancement of Hispanics to leadership positions in federal, state and local government, as well as the judiciary.

Hispanics in the community have become “a growing, significant presence,” said Wallace. “I think you can provide a great service to the community and benefit yourselves.”

While appreciative of the association’s social benefits, several new members said the greatest good would be in helping recent arrivals who need legal services.

“This would be an avenue for those who don’t have access to the legal community, either because of the language barrier or financial resources,” said one.

Having an association in place would also benefit Hispanic lawyers moving to Jacksonville with referrals outside their regular practice areas.

The association is not restricted to members of Hispanic heritage. Regular membership is open to those who are in good standing with The Florida Bar, who live in or devote a substantial part of their practice time in Florida or who are full-time members of the judiciary in Florida.

Annual dues are $40 for regular members and $15 for students. Meetings will be held quarterly at locations to be announced.

For information about membership, call Paola Parra at 398-9002 or Tatiana Salvador at 346-5774.