On Saturday, June 25, 2011, The National Latina/o Law Student Association and the Northwestern Latino Law Student’s Association co-hosted the Central Region Encuentro at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, Illinois. We had students, attorneys, and judges present about opportunities both during and after law school and were able to network and learn about each other’s organizations and continued commitment to our communities.
The Central Region Encuentro attracted students from schools in Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. Represented schools included Notre Dame, Indiana University, Cooley, John Marshall, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, DePaul, Loyola and Northern Illinois. We had a wide range of student attendees including students of the classes of 2009 to 2014.
The Encuentro began with a welcome address by the Honorable Ruben Castillo from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He spoke about his experience as a Northwestern law student and his career path to becoming a District Court Judge. Our next presentation was by Northern Illinois Law Student Karla Altmayer who presented about the Excelencia School of Chicago which is a charter school in the Humbolt Park community intended for bicultural and bilingual students who often need extra assistance in certain subjects due to language barriers. Ms. Altmayer shared resources and information about how law students and attorneys can help with the school. After the presentations, the Encuentro continued with our panel discussions, “Maintaining a Connection with Our Communities through Public Service” and “Latino Business Leaders in the Legal Profession.”
The first panel discussion, led by NLLSA Chair Barbara Barreno, focused on public service. We had Ms. Claudia Castro from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office speak about careers in criminal prosecution, Ms. Rosa Maria Silva from the Cook County Public Defender’s Office present about careers in criminal defense, and Ms. Litza Mavrothalasitis from Jenner & Block LLP share information about the importance of pro bono work while working at a large law firm. After this panel, the Encuentro focused more on the private sector.
The second panel discussion, led by NLLSA Central Regional Director Cristal Cabrera, focused on starting a law firm. We had Mr. Homer Tristan, founding partner of Tristan & Cervantes, Rene Cruz, co-founder of the Law Offices of Gil & Cruz, and Salvador Cicero, founder of the Cicero Law Firm, share their decision to and experience in starting their own law firms. The business leaders also stressed the importance of their involvement in their communities through organizations like the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois.
The final portion of the Central Region Encuentro included a luncheon with Cook County Circuit Court Judges Jesse G. Reyes and David Delgado. They shared their experiences in becoming judges and their selection process for law clerks. Each judge had unique experiences and preferences, but one common denominator in their presentations was that they were involved in their communities and in organizations like NLLSA. They encouraged us to stay involved in our communities and in organizations that bring diverse students together whether it is the Latino Law Student Association or the Student Bar Association. Judge Delgado’s words were, “The fact that you are here today, sets you apart from the others,” because it shows a commitment not only to your professional development, but also to the legal profession.
We would like to thank our sponsors Winston & Strawn LLP and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois for donating their time and resources and Northwestern Law School for allowing us to have a successful Central Region Encuentro!
The next NLLSA Encuentro will be hosted by the Pacific Region on Tuesday July 12, in San Francisco, California. Please contact the Pacific Regional Director Frankie Guzman at email@example.com for more information.