Bienvenidos, Shalom, Konichiwa, Benvenuto, Welcome in any language to the Puerto Rican Bar Association. It is my privilege to welcome you to the largest ethnic bar association in New York State and my honor to serve as its 61st President. Since founded in 1957, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, Inc. (“the PRBA”) has focused its efforts on serving the public and community at large through its leadership, advocacy, legal education and community service. The mission of the PRBA has been to advocate for justice, equality and diversity for 61 years. The PRBA has been in the forefront working to secure and strengthen resources to assure people of diverse backgrounds are treated equally and have equal access to justice.
As the first Judge ever elected President of the PRBA, my vision is to strengthen the relationship between the lawyers, courts and the community. To have a better understanding of the needs of the Latino community served both by the Bar and Bench, and bridge the gap between them through informative programs that will allow for better communication and participation within our court system. The PRBA will continue to provide a voice to those who feel mute and helpless in advocating for themselves, at the same time “building on our legacy by ensuring diversity and equality while serving our community.”
Through the years, PRBA has inspired the Latino youth by increasing professional opportunities in the legal profession through internships, conducting seminars, role models and mentors, and scholarships. Last year, the PRBA Scholarship Fund awarded $160,000 in scholarship grants to law students who demonstrated scholastic achievement, financial need and community service. This year, through our scholarship grants we hope to foster professional development and promote diversity in the legal profession by providing talented law students the tools necessary to succeed in the legal profession, whether as an attorney, law professor or a judge. This too is building on our legacy.
The PRBA through its officers, directors, and members will continue to promote the growth and development of its affiliations with local and out of state bar associations, law firms, and government officials to continue building on our legacy. We intend to grow through the active involvement of our Committees by providing continuing legal education programs, outreach programs, and community service events.
To the outgoing President, Carmen Pacheco, Esq., congratulations on an exciting and prosperous “Diamond Jubilee” year. Your integrity, hard work, and passion have infected all of us. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to this Association, and taking the PRBA to even greater heights.
I look forward to serving as President of the PRBA for the next twelve (12) months. However, one person alone cannot complete the mission of this Association. It requires the active participation of all our members, officers and directors to assure that the goals and mission of the Puerto Rican Bar Association are accomplished.
I hope to see you soon.