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September 01, 2021 Vol. 47, No. 1

Leadership Chat: Leaders of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago on connection, service to their community

Mark Calaguas, Melanie Matias, Janice Dantes, and Eric Cooperstein

Mark Calaguas, Melanie Matias, Janice Dantes, and Eric Cooperstein

Welcome to the latest installment of Leadership Chat, in which we spend a few minutes with a pair of leaders at a particular state, local, or special-focus bar. For this issue, Eric T. Cooperstein spoke with Mark J. Calaguas, Melanie B. Matias, and Janice A. Dantes from the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago.

Cooperstein is a past member of the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services, a past president of the Hennepin County (Minn.) Bar Association, a frequent faculty member at the ABA Bar Leadership Institute, and a small-firm lawyer whose practice is focused on legal ethics. Calaguas is president of FALA Chicago, where Matias is vice president and Dantes is immediate past president.

Calaguas is product counsel at Tayo, a virtual help desk providing COVID-related resources for underserved communities, especially those who are of Filipino descent. Matias is a state’s attorney, prosecuting sex crimes in Chicago. Dantes is a solo lawyer whose practice, Pinay Law, is focused on family law for Filipino American clients.  

Together, these three leaders filled Cooperstein in on how FALA Chicago helps members find connection in a profession where they often feel like an “other,” how the bar is helping members of the Filipino American community—including many nurses—with estate planning and COVID-related needs, and how pro bono service in general may be even more effective than networking when it comes to attracting and engaging members.     

Listen in—and get ready for another Leadership Chat, featuring a different bar leadership team, in a future issue of Bar Leader.