Hangley Aronchick will sponsor the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania’s (HBAPA) 33rd Annual Scholarship Banquet, to be held on October 5. Ahead of the event, we sat down with Hangley Aronchick associate and HBAPA secretary and Legal Education Fund board member Isabel Naveira López to discuss the organization and its impact on the Latino community.

Q: What is the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania (HBAPA) Legal Education Fund and how did you get involved?

I:  The Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania Legal Education Fund (LEF) is a 501(c)(3) sister organization to the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania dedicated to the professional and educational advancement of Latinos in the legal profession. Each year, the LEF raises money to provide scholarships to Latino law students in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. I was a 2018 LEF scholarship recipient. As a result, I experienced first-hand the positive impact the LEF scholarship has on Latino law students not only financially, but also professionally. I remember attending the LEF Scholarship Reception in 2018 and meeting the HBAPA and LEF boards, many of whom have become my mentors and friends and have helped me navigate the legal profession in Philadelphia. After I graduated law school and passed the bar exam, I decided that I wanted to join the board of the LEF and the HBAPA and become a resource for Latino law students like myself.

Q: As president of the board, what were some of your accomplishments? What were some of your goals and how did you accomplish them?

I: I served as the president of the LEF in 2022. I am currently serving as a board member of the LEF and as the secretary of the HBAPA. As president of the LEF, my job was to lead the board in its fundraising efforts as well as in planning the 2022 Scholarship Reception. During my presidency, and with the assistance of the 2022 LEF board, the LEF was able to award $37,000 in scholarships to 8 qualifying local law students with strong academic records and a strong commitment to the Latino community. Further, during my presidency, and in partnership with AL DIA, the LEF awarded for the first time an additional $5,000 scholarship known as the Judge Nelson Díaz Scholarship, which was created in honor of Judge Diaz’s commitment to the Latino community and the legal profession.     

Q: How does the HBAPA Legal Education Fund help advance future Latino attorneys?

I: The LEF helps advance the professional and educational advancement of Latino attorneys by awarding scholarships to qualifying Latino law students from law schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. In addition to awarding scholarships, the LEF is meant to expose Latino law students to the HBAPA which serves as an excellent resource for Latino lawyers and law students in Pennsylvania. The HBAPA, among other things, hosts networking events and CLE events for law school students and practicing Latino lawyers in Pennsylvania. Members of the HABPA also receive a weekly email with job postings and other training events that are meant to assist in the development of young lawyers. Most importantly, the HBAPA, in my experience, is a community of hard-working and successful Latino lawyers who are eager to increase the presence of Latino lawyers in the legal profession and are always willing to donate their time to assist young Latino lawyers who are starting their careers and looking for ways to further develop their legal skills.

Q: Since joining the HBAPA, have you seen an increase of Latino attorneys practicing in Pennsylvania and in the surrounding tri-state area?

I: One of the HBAPA and LEF’s biggest goals since the COVID-19 pandemic has been to increase the presence of the HBAPA outside of Philadelphia. While that work is ongoing, I do believe that we have been able to expand our reach within the City of Philadelphia and have welcomed several new Latino attorneys to the LEF and HBAPA boards who are eager to expand the reach of the HBAPA and serve as a resource to Latino attorneys throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to a future Latino attorney?

I: The advice I would give to a future Latino attorney would be to take advantage of the HBAPA and the LEF’s resources. Most importantly, my advice is to make an effort to attend HBAPA networking events where they can meet the HBAPA and LEF board members as well as other members of the HBAPA. In my experience, it is critical for all young lawyers to surround themselves with individuals who share their same passions and who can serve as mentors as they navigate the legal profession.