The Hispanic Bar Association ("HisBA") is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1988, whose goal is the advancement of Hispanics in the legal profession. To this end, HisBA organizes several activities throughout the year, including President's Day (which historically brings to Houston the presidents of national, state, and local bar associations to promote a dialogue on the advancement of minorities in the legal profession). HisBA also raises funds for a number of scholarships which it awards to law students attending Houston area law schools.
By its mandate, the association is non-political organization-prohibited from endorsing or supporting political candidates. The following are certain activities sponsored by the association:
(1) Funding of the Hispanic Bar Association's Chief Judge James DeAnda Scholarship program that provides scholarships to Hispanic law students from the three Houston area law schools. The amount of each scholarship is $1,500, matched dollar-for-dollar by each law school, thus making the total amount of each scholarship $3,000. The scholarships are given on the basis of financial need, academic achievement, and leadership potential. In 1991, the association undertook the ambitious long-term goal of raising $50,000 to establish an endowment for the Judge DeAnda Scholarships. The scholarship program was recognized by Leadership Houston, which awarded the Association its 1992 Leadership in Action Award (Ethnic Diversity)
(2) Annually recognizing a person or entity whose outstanding character, legal ability, and service to the Hispanic community serves as a model to other Hispanics in the legal profession under the auspices of the Hispanic Bar Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. Past recipients of the award include Chief Judge James DeAnda, Bankruptcy Court Judge Manuel Leal, Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzalez, Judge Reynaldo Garza, MALDEF, Judge Lupe Salinas, Judge Linda Yanez, Judge A.D. Azios and Adelfa Callejos, State Representative Irma Rangel and Prof. Michael Olivas.
(3) Holding seminars, in conjunction with the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Hispanic MBA's and other minority organizations for minority-owned small businesses. These minority businesses are typically owned by low-to-middle income persons who operate without legal advice. These seminars draw on the association's expertise in the fields of corporate, commercial and real estate lending, and international law. The association has also organized and sponsored conferences for bankers to discuss lending to minority businesses.
In addition to these activities, the association regularly provides speakers and volunteers to act as role models and mentors at Houston area public schools which are heavily attended by Hispanics. In this area, the association has provided financial support, as evidenced by its contribution in 1991 towards the funding of a full-time counselor at a Houston area public school, heavily attended by Hispanics.
Typically held in May of each year, the main event sponsored by the association is President's Day. Throughout the day, many activities are planned where the main issue to be addressed is the recruitment and advancement of minority attorneys at all levels, from law schools (students and faculty), to law firms, to the judiciary. All conferences are free to the public and leaders of other bar organizations are invited.
In recognition for its efforts and programs, the State Bar of Texas selected the HisBA as the recipient of its Merit Award (best Bar organization in the under 150 members) in 1995.