Why Hispanic Heritage Month Matters

Why Hispanic Heritage Month Matters

By Angela Baldwin, President of the Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan

Hispanic Heritage Month is a month of pride, celebration and education allowing us to unite around shared values and the American Dream. It’s a time of taking stock of who we are and where we are today.

At a time when the economy is foremost in many people’s minds, Hispanic Heritage Month is our mouthpiece to show how our representation in America matters. A study by Pew Research indicates that the Hispanic population in the U.S. has increased by 23% over the past 10 years, now numbering 62.1 million. By 2030, the projected Hispanic population is anticipated to be 74.8 million out of 325 million (21.1%). We are the largest and fastest growing “blind spot” of the American Economy. This has enormous consequences for our culture and our country. The GDP of Latinos in the U.S. in 2020 was $2.8 trillion, surpassing the GDPs of U.K., India, and Japan. Our purchasing power is $1.9 trillion dollars and has the potential to increase to $2.6 trillion over the next three years.

Our cultural belief in hard work and success contribute to our upward mobility. With income growth of 77% and a new home ownership rate of 48%, we lead all other groups in terms of upward mobility. The number of adult Hispanic’s earning higher education degrees has increased to 73%, leading to higher skilled occupations. According to a recent report by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, a staggering 86% of all new American businesses launched between 2007 and 2012 were started by Hispanics. We account for 40% of all workforce growth and are offsetting declines from the outgoing Baby Boomers.

Moreover, we play an important role in the election process because we turn out to vote. Contrary to some notions, over 80% of our community are citizens, and many more are in the citizenship process. Our community believes in the responsibility that comes along with being an American. We pay federal, state, and local taxes that most recently was tallied as $308.5 billion, which is up $94 million dollars from just a few years prior. Our love of this nation is evident as we are the fast-growing population in the military accounting for 16% of all active-duty military personnel.

Despite such resounding numbers, Hispanics are among the most undercapitalized and under-resourced in the U.S. For example, Hispanic businesses were disproportionately impacted by Covid and 50%+ less likely to receive government relief under the Payment Protection Program. We, however, are resilient by nature. Even though studies show that the Covid pandemic took a toll on us personally and financially, the report found that Latino economic output went from being equivalent to the world’s eighth-largest GDP at the start of 2020 to the fifth largest when the year ended according to the Pew Research Center.

Notwithstanding such substantial progress, we still have a long way to go. Specifically, the legal profession has been very slow to diversify by ethnicity over the past decade. We are disproportionately represented in the legal field and the judiciary. According to the ABA National Lawyer Population Survey, Hispanics make up almost 19% of the U.S. population, yet only 4.8% of lawyers are Hispanic. In private practice, we make up only 1.8% of law firm partners. The Federal Judicial Center found that from 2017 through 2020 the U.S. Senate confirmed 229 federal judges. Of those, only nine (4%) were Hispanic. Consequently, the composition of the federal judiciary does not reflect the various perspectives and experiences of those who are served by our nation’s courts, which is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Political representation and clout are on the table as is our representation from the C-Suites to the jobs on Main Street. From sports and entertainment to educational opportunity and the freedom to achieve. It is critical that we collectively use this month as a platform to educate and set the record straight, so that we are accurately represented as positive contributors to the U.S., and I invite you to join me in spreading the word. “If you have an opportunity to make things better and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” – Roberto Clemente

HBAM Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with HBAM!

Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 to October 15. Celebrate and mingle with members of the bar, the judiciary, and law students our herencia. There will be music, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and drinks.  Open to paid members  only so become a member today!

HBAM Leadership Position Applications Open for 2022-2023 Term

The Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan has announced several open positions within the organization for the 2022-2023 term.

To view open positions, click here.

To apply for a position, fill out the application and email to hbamichigan@gmail.com.

HBAM 2021-2022 Scholarships

Governor Whitmer Makes Appointments to Michigan Court of Appeals, Lansing and Jackson District Courts

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the appointments of Christopher P. Yates to the Court of Appeals – District 3, Tony Flores to the 54A District Court of the City of Lansing, and Robert K. Gaecke, Jr. to the 12th District Court of Jackson County.

 

“Judge Yates, Mr. Flores, and Mr. Geacke will bring decades of legal experience to the bench and ensure that the rule of law is upheld across Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “As governor, I am honored to have the opportunity to appoint these three highly qualified Michiganders to the bench, where they will serve the people on the Michigan Court of Appeals, District Court of Lansing, and District Court of Jackson.”

 

Court of Appeals – District 3

 

Christopher P. Yates is currently a judge with the 17th Circuit Court of Kent County. He has been with the circuit court since 2008 where he presides over a specialized business docket and has previously handled civil, criminal, and family dockets. Prior to his time with the courts, Judge Yates was a partner with Yates, LaGrand & Denenfeld, PLLC and Willey, Chamberlain & Yates, LLP. He has also served as the chief defender for the Federal Public Defender’s Office, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and as an attorney and advisor for the U.S. Department of Justice.  Judge Yates began his law career as a law clerk to Chief U.S. District Judge James Churchill and to U.S. Appellate Judge Ralph Guy.

 

Judge Yates earned his Juris Doctor degree and Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois and Bachelor of Arts degree from Kalamazoo College.  He is the current president of the Michigan Judges Association, vice president of the American College of Business Court Judges, a member and former president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and an appointed council member of the judicial section of the State Bar of Michigan. Judge Yates is a long-time resident of Grand Rapids where he lives with his wife, Janice, and their twin daughters.

 

“I am humbled and deeply grateful to Governor Whitmer for giving me the opportunity to serve on the Michigan Court of Appeals,” said Judge Yates. “After spending 14 years as a trial judge, I’m enthusiastic about serving my fellow Michiganders in a new role as an appellate judge. My practice always included a large number of appeals, so it will be a familiar pleasure to return to appellate work.”

 

This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, after Judge Jane M. Beckering was appointed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan effective December 24, 2021. If Judge Yates wishes to serve the remainder of Judge Beckering’s term, expiring January 1, 2025, he would be required to run for reelection in November of 2022.

 

 

54A District Court – City of Lansing

 

Tony Flores is currently a professor at the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has been a full-time professor since 2005 and currently teaches criminal procedure and evidence. Prior to his current role, Flores was an assistant prosecuting attorney in Mecosta County where he handled the prosecution of criminal cases and in Ingham County where he was the unit chief for child abuse cases.

 

Flores earned his Juris Doctor degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Colorado. He is currently the vice chair of Faculty Governance at Cooley Law School and the chair of the Litigation Concentration. Tony is a long-time resident of Lansing where he lives with his wife, Karen. They have two daughters Mary Beth and Hope Ann who graduated from Michigan State University and currently work and reside in Southern California.

 

“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve the City of Lansing as a district court judge,” said Flores. “I am proud to be a part of the Lansing community that has been my home for almost 30 years.”

 

This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 18, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, after the retirement of Judge Louise Alderson effective January 21, 2022. If Mr. Flores wishes to seek a full six-year term, he would be required to run for reelection in November 2022.

 

 

12th District Court – Jackson County

 

Robert K. Gaecke, Jr. is currently a solo practitioner and owner of Robert K. Gaecke, Jr., P.C. His practice focuses on representing disabled individuals obtaining social security disability benefits, plaintiff-side tort cases, criminal, and appellate matters. Gaecke previously worked as an attorney with Rappleye & Rappleye, P.C. where he primarily worked as a court-appointed felony defender. While contracting with the county, he litigated all manner of charges, including capital cases from preliminary hearings through sentencing.

 

Gaecke earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toledo College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Political Science from Eastern Michigan University. He is a member of the Jackson County Bar Association and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. Rob lives in Jackson with his wife, Nancy.

 

“I am humbled by the great responsibility Governor Whitmer has entrusted with me,” said Geacke. “I promise to serve every person in our court system equally, with discipline, decency, and dignity.”

 

This appointment was made to fill a partial term, which will commence on April 11, 2022 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2023, after the retirement of Judge Joseph S. Filip effective December 31, 2021. If Mr. Gaecke wishes to seek a full six-year term, he would be required to run for reelection in November 2022.

 

Judicial appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

HBAM Partners With LA SED for Operation Joy

The Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan (“HBAM”) is partnering with Latin Americans for Social Economic and Development, Inc. (“LA SED”) to help with their annual Operation Joy!  LA SED will be delivering food baskets, jackets, and small toys to approximately 200 families in the area to spread warmth and hope to those in need.

In 1987 LA SED began a holiday program called Operation Joy to provide a little holiday cheer to families experiencing financial difficulty due to the closing of the Fleetwood plant, among others.  That first year, Operation Joy provided modest food baskets to approximately 50 families.  Today, LA SED will provide food, coats and small toys to approximately 200 families.

HBAM is looking for toy donations, specifically for boys and girls ages 11-13.  If you would like to donate a toy, De Armas and De Armas Law and Birach Law, PC will have a donation drop off box from November 19, 2021 – December 19, 2021.  You may either drop the toys off or have them delivered (e.g., via Amazon).  Please see the flyer for more information.

New HBAM Officers Named

On June 30, 2021, new Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan Officers were sworn in.

President:  Marva De Armas

President-Elect:  Abril Valdes

Treasurer: Arturo Alfaro

Treasurer-Elect: Monica Navarro

Secretary: Veronica Beltran

 

To learn more about HBAM Officers and Directors, visit https://hispanicbarofmi.org/officers-directors/.

HBAM Hosts Pre-Law Event

The Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan will be hosting a panel about how to apply and afford law school. The event will be held via Zoom on March 18 at 5:00 – 7:00 PM ET.

Professor Erin Archerd, Detroit Mercy Law, will discuss the admissions process. Additional panelists will be announced in the coming days.

You do not need to be a member of HBAM to attend. To register for this free event, click here.

HBAM Hosts Annual Party

HBAM will be hosting its Annual Party for members and friends on January 14 at 5 PM.  Judge Zainab Baydoun will be speaking at this virtual event about becoming an Administrative Law Judge and her nonprofit organization, the EmpowerME Project.  The event will also feature a trivia contest hosted by a Sporcle trivia MC.

To RSVP for the event, please send email marva@dearmaslawoffice.com.

HBAM Member Spotlight: Lawrence Garcia

What is your name?

Lawrence T. Garcia

Where do you work, and what is your position there?

City of Detroit, Corporation Counsel

Where did you attend law school, and when did you graduate?

University of Michigan Law School, 1995

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A park ranger

Who is your biggest role model and why?

My father, Dr. Julio H. Garcia.  He was always dignified and full of positive energy.  He was smart and kind, but did not take himself too serious.  He was a great man – never selfish or petty.

What has been the biggest accomplishment/victory in your legal career?

My first no cause verdict, nearly 20 years ago.

What is your idea of a great day?

Any day you find Caselaw on point and finish a brief you know will win is a great day.

What are two things about you many people might not know?

I have mild dyslexia, and I love working in the yard.

What organization or cause are you passionate about?

The Michigan Hispanic Collaborative – We have to get more young Latinos into elite society.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Be patient. It takes  long time for opportunity to knock on some doors, but if you wait patiently, you will be in the right frame of mind when it does.