Minnesota FBA Chapter Joins Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association for Initiative

Some 100 Hispanic students in Minneapolis and St. Paul may have felt like they were on their own in pursuing their dreams when they walked into a meeting with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, but they left with mentors from the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA) committed to being there for them.

“We are pleased that Justice Sotomayor joined us to launch this mentoring program taken on by pioneering Hispanic lawyers in Minnesota,” said U.S. District Court Judge Ann Montgomery, who led the formation of this long-term initiative.

The launch event in St. Paul featured Justice Sotomayor, who shared with the audience her growing-up experiences and how her ethnicity has shaped her life.  The students, their parents, federal judges, and lawyers attended the afternoon event at the Minnesota History Center. The Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (FBA) was a partner in the project.

Middle school and high school Hispanic students were selected to participate based on the writing, artwork, and oral history projects they submitted to the MHBA on the theme My Past, My Future:  Latino in Minnesota. The student event included a question-and-answer session with the Justice and two of the volunteer attorney mentors.

To set the stage for the mentor-matching program, students watched the premiere of a 28-minute video, titled “Someone Like Me Can Do This,” featuring the first-person stories of many of the judges and attorneys who volunteered to be their mentors.  The event also featured over 20 banners chronicling the history of the Latino community in Minnesota, and artwork by Jimmy Longoria, a Minnesotan and renowned Latino artist.

“The Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association is honored to have joined with the U.S. District Court in Minnesota and the MHBA in this important program for our entire community.  When we come together to learn from each other, share our collective experiences, and welcome new generations, we become stronger,” said Minnesota Chapter President Tara Norgard.

Born in New York City to Puerto Rican-born parents, Justice Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States by President Barack Obama in 2009. In addition to being the first Hispanic Justice named to the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor is the third female to serve. Her appointment followed that of now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and sitting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Elena Kagan is the fourth woman appointed to the Court.

Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor was a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Second Circuit from 1998 to 2009.  She served as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York from 1992 to 1998.  Prior to joining the bench, she was an assistant district attorney in New York, and an associate attorney in a Manhattan law firm specializing in intellectual property litigation.

The Latino Legal Experience in Minnesota was organized by the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.