The report, available here, provides recommendations on how the legal community can best serve the legal needs of Latinos in the United States. It documents a yearlong fact-gathering process at stakeholder meetings and at six regional hearings that included testimony from more than 120 witnesses who represent a broad spectrum of the Hispanic community and its national leadership.
“Latinos are the largest, fastest and youngest growing population in the United States. As the national voice of the legal profession in America, it was important that the ABA took a leadership role — not only to identify and highlight the unique legal and socio-political challenges facing Latinos in America, but also to help facilitate the integration of this growing community into a successful American future,” ABA President Laurel G. Bellows said.
According to the report, the critical areas in which large numbers of Latinos face bias, mistreatment and significant unmet legal needs include those related to employment, education, housing, the criminal justice system, health services, access to the legal profession and media representation. The ability to respond to those legal needs depends on an understanding of how Latino national origin, race, immigration, language and gender status are implicated in each of these areas.
“At the ABA, we have been fighting for the Paycheck Fairness Act because one of our policies is comparable pay for comparable work. Latinos comprise only 1.91 percent of partners and 3.9 percent of associates at law firms, but less than one-half percent of partners and less than 2 percent of associates are Latinas,” Bellows said. “In the larger statistics of equal pay, all women earn only an average of 77 cents per dollar that men earn, but Latinas earn only 55 cents.”
The commission and its work represent both the ABA’s commitment to advancing the needs of the Latino community and its organizations in America. Lawyers and policymakers can use this report as a resource to help them understand the important issues impacting Latinos.
“Through this report, the ABA recognizes that Hispanic legal rights and responsibilities are at the forefront of legal issues affecting our nation, such as immigration, voting rights, language and citizenship,” said Stephen N. Zack, the ABA’s first Hispanic president. “This is a first step toward putting a spotlight on and resolving these important issues.”
While immigration is not fully covered in the report, the impact of immigration is woven in the everyday life of Hispanics in this country. The commission concluded that issues related to immigration must be addressed in order for the Latino community to fully be able to serve and participate as contributing members of society.
“I am grateful to the ABA and its leadership for recognizing the need and placing its resources behind this project. The report is a start for the ABA to address the challenges faced by so many Latinos in our country,” said César L. Alvarez, chair of the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities. “I am thankful that the ABA will continue to address these important issues.”
A media kit about the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities is available here. For more information, please contact Maria Gutierrez at 202-662-1091 or at Maria.Gutierrez@americanbar.org.
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