The Colorado Hispanic Bar Association was incorporated on February 23, 1977 as the Chicano Bar Association. Original incorporators, Robert Maes, Ruth Casarez, Linda Leon, Rod Deaguerro, Richard I. Gonzales, Dan Carillo and Art Lesher, envisioned the organization as the legal advisor to the Hispanic community and a catalyst in expanding the number of Hispanics in the legal profession.
Over the past 35 years, the CHBA has initiated projects designed to carry out the stated purposes of its founders. For example, CHBA members have worked diligently to expand the number of Hispanic lawyers in the state. Today, there are approximately 500 Hispanic attorneys in Colorado specializing in all facets of the law. The CHBA has developed a successful bar examination tutorial program and mentor/mentee program to assist and ensure the success of Hispanic law students. Through the efforts of the CHBA, both Colorado law schools now have Hispanic professors among their faculty, serving as role models to the law students and enriching the schools through their cultural diversity. The CHBA is also committed to expanding legal opportunities for Hispanic attorneys within Colorado. It has worked to ensure the appointment of Latinos to the bench, district attorney offices, governmental entities and private law firms.
To serve its membership, the CHBA sponsors continuing legal education seminars and has established a number of committees and activities to address professional development issues. The CHBA is involved with other state and national bar associations, such as the Colorado Bar Association and other specialty bar associations. It is an affiliate of the Hispanic National Bar Association, having hosted the 1990 and 2001 national conventions in Denver. The CHBA will again host the Hispanic National Bar Association annual convention in September 2013. CHBA members have earned significant leadership positions within the national bar.
To serve the Hispanic community, the CHBA is actively involved in a number of efforts. Members contribute numerous hours to pro bono projects such as the 1991 “poaching” incident in the San Luis Valley. CHBA members annually donate pro bono legal and community services to Hispanic community boards. The CHBA is also a founding member of the Hispanic League.
Moreover, the CHBA has been involved in significant issues affecting the Hispanic community, including opposition to the “English Only” amendment, and the reapportionment process. In 2011, the CHBA participated as an intervenor, together with the Colorado Latino Forum, in a three week congressional redistricting trial before Denver District Chief Judge Robert Hyatt. The CHBA was represented by MALDEF and Faegre Baker Daniels. The lawsuit was important to preserve historically underrepresented Latino communities of interest and prevent dilution of Latino voting strength statewide. Through the CHBA’s Public Policy Committee, the CHBA successfully assisted the Pueblo Chicano Democratic Caucus in securing, for the first time in Pueblo’s history, two majority Hispanic city council districts.
The CHBA is comprised of dedicated lawyers committed to improving the life of Hispanics in Colorado.