St. Mary's University School of Law will host the Lawtina Network Summit on Saturday. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

St. Mary’s University School of Law will host the first Lawtina Network Summit on Saturday. 

Open to all Latinas in law — from pre-law and law school students to lawyers and allies — the event will be held at St. Mary’s and online. It will include information sessions, relationship-building activities and a welcome dinner held at Mi Tierra, all with the intent to build community. 

“Some people are fortunate to come from a family of lawyers. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for most Latina lawyers,” said Brianna Chapa, founder and president of the Lawtina Network.

“The Lawtina Network Summit will create a … network [that] will enable Latinas to thrive, find a community and, ultimately, increase Latina representation across all legal sectors,” she added.

In 2020, about 37% percent of lawyers in the United States were women, with Latinas making up just 2% of lawyers in the U.S.

​​“Although Latinas have been part of the largest racial minority group in the country for nearly the last two decades, they make up a very small percentage of all U.S. attorneys,” Chapa said.

Chapa, a third-year law student at St. Mary’s University decided to hold the event after the success of the Lawtina in Training 1L Bootcamp in Summer 2021, which welcomed more than 150 students from law schools across the country. 

Among the speakers for the Lawtina Network Summit is Paulina Vera, who supervises the George Washington University Law School immigration clinic and provides legal representation to asylum-seekers and those facing deportation.

Vera said growing up in Arizona as the daughter of two immigrants inspired her to pursue a career in law. “Especially after Arizona’s SB 1070 (‘show me your papers’) law came out, I saw how hateful people could be towards immigrants and I was especially drawn to practice immigration law,” she said in an email.

The summit is a chance for Latinas to see the representation they might be missing and an opportunity to discuss the challenges they face in the field, Vera said.

“A summit like this one is important because people need to see themselves represented in these spaces to know it’s possible for them too,” she said. “They also need to understand the challenges Latinas face in the profession and how other Latinas confront those challenges,”

The event will also feature a panel of judges sharing their experiences including Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Judge Antonia “Toni” Arteaga of the 57th District Court of Bexar County, Chief Justice Rebeca C. Martinez of the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals, and Chief Justice Dori Contreras of the Texas 13th Court of Appeals.

Attendees will participate in one of three tracks. Those in the pre-law track will learn about law school applications, financing and selecting a law school. They will also have the opportunity to join sessions in the Lawtina-in-training track, in which law students will learn about mental health, surviving finals, balancing family commitments, and managing relationships to achieve academic success. The Lawtina, members of the bench and bar track focuses on personal and professional development.

“The Lawtina Network is helping to provide access, opportunity, academic success and a sense of belonging to our students, the majority of whom identify as both Hispanic and female,” said Patricia Roberts, dean of St. Mary’s Law School.

Registration starts at $35 for virtual attendees and $50 for in-person participants, with scholarships available for pre-law and law students. Those interested in attending can view the full event schedule and register for a spot on the Lawtina Network Summit webpage.

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Genevieve Adame

Genevieve Adame is a Scripps Howard Foundation Emerging Journalist intern and a rising senior at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio.