Hispanic Law Student Association Wins Top National Honor

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  Matthew Agramonte, Brian Vaca, Kevin Correa, Edward Proenza, Bertila Fernandez, and Daniel Hentschel.

Members of the Executive Board:  Matthew Agramonte, Brian Vaca, Kevin Correa, Edward Proenza, Bertila Fernandez, and Daniel Hentschel.

The Hispanic National Bar Association, the not-for-profit, nonpartisan, national membership organization that represents the interests of Hispanic legal professionals in the United States, awarded the 2014-2015 HNBA Law Student Organization of the Year Award to Miami Law’s Hispanic Law Students Association.

For several years HLSA has focused on providing professional, educational, and social support to Hispanic and other students at Miami Law while fostering an appreciation for Hispanic culture. This past year the organization made significant strides in furthering this goal by partnering with local and national organizations such as the Cuban American Bar Association and the HNBA to develop annual mentoring and networking opportunities for its members. 

"I was thrilled to learn that Miami Law's HLSA was selected as HNBA's 2015 Law Student Organization of the Year,” said Teresa J. Verges,  HLSA faculty advisor and director of the Investor Rights Clinic.  “This prestigious award recognizes the exceptional talent, dedication and commitment to service of our student members."  

As part of its annual programing, HLSA and the HNBA hosted a speed-networking type event where its members had an opportunity to interact with over 40 attorneys on a one-on-one basis. The event served as an introduction to the HNBA Mentorship program, where students and attorneys were paired based on their legal interests and personal preferences. In addition to focusing on student development, the organization has also focused on organizing forums with distinguished panelist to discuss current issues affecting Hispanics in the legal community and providing its members with pro bono opportunities. Earlier this year, in response to the influx of undocumented children entering the U.S., HLSA provided support to the CABA Pro Bono Project by sending student volunteers to assist in immigration cases.

The efforts have seen the organization’s profile and visibility rise, not only in the law school, but also now on a national level. This year’s President, Brian Vaca, is committed to continuing HLSA’s success. "On behalf of the members of the Hispanic Law Students Association, we are honored to have been selected the best student organization at the national level,” said Vaca. “This year’s board and members have huge shoes to fill, but we are confident with the continuous support from our faculty, Deans, and the HNBA, we can have another successful year.” 

“The HLSA executive board and members have worked very hard to become a leader among law student organizations, delivering very valuable programming for its members and larger community,” said Associate Dean Raquel M. Matas,  currently national chair of the HNBA LGBT Division. “This award, the result of a very competitive process, reflects this effort.”

The organization also takes pride in offering its own mentorship program, pairing incoming 1L’s with current members. The program focuses on providing incoming 1L’s with academic and professional guidance, but more importantly with a social network of support. 

Outgoing Vice-President Kevin Correa notes how important this can be. “My involvement with HLSA has been formative in my law school career, and I don’t think I would be where I am today without the organization. In the last three years this group has become a second family, and I hope that future members can benefit from the organization as much as I did,” he said.  

Past president Edward Proentza and current president Brian Vaca will travel to the HNCA Annual Convention in Boston in early September to receive the award.