Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law hosted its annual Diversity Day on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Organized by the Office of Admission in conjunction with the Minority Law Students Association, the event was an inspiring and thought-provoking opportunity to shed light on diversity in the legal profession, illuminating the path to success for hundreds of Orange County’s future leaders.
Diversity Day, co-sponsored by the Law School Admission Council’s DiscoverLaw.org, brought Latinx judges and practitioners to speak at a panel and inspire more than 200 middle and high school students on the importance of higher education and community service. Panelists discussed legal practice and community involvement, and spoke candidly about their experiences growing up.
The speakers told students that despite often overwhelming odds, a combination of hard work, mentorship and sacrifice allowed them to persevere and reach considerable feats in their legal profession. Many attendees were visibly moved by the panelists’ comments.
“The Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County (HBA) is proud to support Chapman University Fowler School of Law’s diversity initiative program. Chapman’s diversity initiative program, which dares to inspire Latino high school students to dream of a career in the practice of law, aligns perfectly with our core values and mission to promote education, unity and excellence in our community,” said Guillermo M. Tello, CFO of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association. “I along with the rest of the HBA look forward to our continued support of Chapman’s diversity initiative program.”
The speakers reminded the students that they could also be leaders in their fields and communities. They shared experiences about their struggles during high school and the steps they took to overcome real life challenges such as poverty, involvement in gangs and teenage pregnancies. They challenged the students to aspire to greatness and to seek their mentorship so that one day they can realize their own potential and, like the panelists, inspire a new generation of student leaders.
“I was proud to see and hear from such inspiring leaders in the legal community,” said Hugo Salazar, past president of the Minority Law Students Association and current co-chair of the Diversity Initiative Symposium and Publication.
Diversity Day speakers included The Honorable Frank Ospino of the Orange County Superior Court; The Honorable Elizabeth Macias of the Orange County Superior Court; alumna Rosa Elena Sahagun (JD ’02); Guillermo Tello, CFO of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, adjunct professor at Western State College of Law, and an associate at Ogletree Deakins; Lyo Figueroa, founding partner of the Fontes Figueroa Law Group, and member of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association Board of Directors; Araceli Gonzalez Guerrero, founder of the Law Offices of Araceli G. Guerrero; State Senator Lou Correa; John Palacio, School Board President of the Santa Ana Unified School District.
Upcoming diversity programs at the law school include the 2016 Social Justice Symposium. The symposium entitled Blinded Justice: A Discussion About Whether the Legal System Values and Protects Diverse Communities will be held on Thursday, March 3, 2016 from 1 to 8 p.m. The event is presented by the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law Diversity Initiative Symposium and Publication.
Above: Chapman University Fowler School of Law Assistant Dean of Admission and Diversity Initiatives Justin Cruz addresses students.