1971, Mario G. Obledo moved to San Francisco from San
Antonio, Texas when the National Headquarters of the
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)
moved here. Mr. Obledo found it was almost impossible
to find five Latino attorneys in one place. More Latino
attorneys were needed, and the best way to increase
the number of Latino attorneys was by recruiting and
educating young people.
was a program designed to create legal education opportunities,
the Council of Legal Education Opportunities (CLEO),
but Latinos could not take a place at the table because
Latinos attorneys did not have an organization eligible
to participate and make their voice heard.
Obledo, MALDEF's general Counsel, Cruz Reynoso, the
Executive Director the California Rural Legal Assistance
at that time, and Luis Garcia, a lawyer in private practice
in San Francisco, together founded La Raza Lawyers in
1971. The Association found its first home at the MALDEF
offices. From there, our founders began to recruit attorneys
from San Francisco, the Bay Area, the State of California,
and across the nation. Within a few years the La Raza
Lawyers Association had become a national organization.
Today, the national organization is known as the National
Hispanic Bar Association, headquartered in Washington,
Our founders are
proud of what we have become. They take credit only
for an idea in response to a pressing need -- the
need to educate more minority Latino lawyers because
there were so few.
In the early 1980s
we lost one of our founders, Luis Garcia, who was
then the Presiding Judge in the San Francisco Municipal
Court. Mario G. Obledo and Cruz Reynoso have enjoyed
long and very distinguished legal careers. Both have
been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the
nation's highest civilian honor.
are grateful to our founders for their example and leadership.