HNBA Familia Focus

HNBA’s Familia Focus features a different member in each issue of E-Noticias, highlighting their accomplishments in the legal and Latinx communities, and how they have benefited from being members of our HNBA family. The Familia Focus segment offers an opportunity for members to share their story with colleagues, inspire current and future legal professionals, encourage member engagement and volunteering, and raise awareness of both the profession the critical work that HNBA/VIA do for our members and communities.

APRIL 17, 2020 – LUIS SALAZAR

“For me, the HNBA has meant a lifelong group of friends and an extensive professional network. I recommend membership because the HNBA provides every member the opportunity to build the same network of diverse and capable lawyers and professionals, while promoting diversity in our profession.”

NAME:              Luis Salazar
JOB TITLE:      Managing Partner
COMPANY:      Salazar Law, LLP
CITY/STATE:    Miami, Florida
EDUCATION:
    • Columbia University School of Law, JD, 1992
    • University of Miami, MBA, 2003
    • Drew University, BA, 1989


ACHIEVEMENTS:
    • National Law Journal, Technology Law Trailblazers in 2019
    • Daily Business Review, Technology Law Trailblazers in 2019
    • Listed, Chambers & Partners USA Guide, 2007-2019 editions
    • ListedThe Best Lawyers in America©, 2007-2019 editions
    • Winner, “Most Innovative Program for Employee Health and Well-being,” Chambers Diversity Awards USA
    • Minority Corporate Counsel Association, Rainmaker, 2017
     Most Effective Lawyer for Bankruptcy, the Daily Business Review, 2014
    Super Lawyers, Florida, 2006-2019
    Restructuring Law Firm of the Year (2011), Acquisition International Magazine
    Distressed Deal of the Year, 2011, M&A Advisor’s

How long you have been practicing law: 25 years
How long have you been an HNBA Member: 20 plus years
Any volunteer or leadership roles with HNBA: Section Chair, Law Practice Management, 2020; Board Member and Membership Committee Chair, HNBA Board, Region VIII.

Learn More About Luis (...)

Why did you decide to pursue a career in law, and what aspects of this field do you enjoy the most?

I’m the proud son of immigrants and becoming a professional was drummed into me from a young age. But I grew up in my family’s dry cleaning business in Washington Heights, NYC, and I loved the constant interaction with customers and neighbors. I felt that being a lawyer bridged those two worlds – the power of an education and degree with the indispensable connection with the people and community you serve.  

How did you first learn about the HNBA and what motivated you to join?

I began my legal career in New Jersey 25 years ago. It’s hard to convey now how isolating it was to be a Hispanic attorney, even in the Northeast. My trailblazing sister, Oilda Maria Salazar, was an attorney and she encouraged me to become a member. Attending HNBA meetings back then made me feel like I was connected and part of something bigger. I still look forward to seeing the same lawyers I met then at HNBA meetings now.

With the recent COVID-19 crisis, the state of the world has changed drastically. What do you foresee as the greatest challenges in the legal profession going forward, and what advice do you have to offer to current and future lawyers?

I believe the key challenges will be organizations and businesses feeling its acceptable to put diversity issues on hold because of the crisis and its aftermath, and failing to break out of the respond-to-the-crisis mindset.  I’ve already had one executive director of a major national legal organization that they were putting diversity efforts on hold indefinitely. As if diversity is nice, but not essential. We have to fight that mentality. Part of fighting that mentality and growing our influence in our profession is moving past just responding to the crisis, and instead leading through the crisis and its aftermath. Hispanic lawyers should be asking themselves now, “How’s coronavirus going to change the future and what can I do to get in front of that change?”

One of the HNBA’s goals is to keep members engaged and connected during the COVID-19 pandemic while they are working and staying at home. Please tell me more about HNBA Region VIII’s Virtual Ventanita Zoom webinars, and how this idea was created. Also, are there any plans for additional programming, through either the Region, the HNBA Law Practice Management Section, or through your firm?

When the crisis first struck, everyone was caught up in the moment and fending for themselves. But while we were stockpiling our pantries, I felt we were not taking stock of how the crisis would impact those we serve.  Quarantine. Isolation. Social distancing. These are all necessary, but they also have an unintended consequence: hurting our members, hurting our mission. 

As an organization, I felt we have an opportunity to shine during this crisis and to prepare our organization and our members to come out stronger than ever.  To get ahead of the crisis. This is all the more true when compared to other professional organizations, most of which had – and even still have – gone silent.

So, I proposed that our Regional Board open the HNBA Virtual Ventanita. For those who don’t know, ventanitas are the Cuban café windows were Miamians can get a shot of Cuban café, a pastelito, and plenty of companionship and gossip. Our Virtual Ventanita would consist of a daily hosted on-line video meeting featuring a 10 minute talk by a member or guest on any useful topic (legal or crisis-related), followed by Q&A/community time for members to ask for help or advice.  We are in our fourth week now and regularly get an average of 30 to 40 participants. We intend to continue until the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

How do you spend your free time?

I spend my time with my three teenage kids (who probably should be spending more time studying and less on their phones, so please put that away before I take it away for good!) and love to box.

What’s one thing (a fun fact, hobby, etc.) people would be surprised to know about you?

I love to bake and make a mean blueberry pie.

What has HNBA membership has meant to you both personally and professionally? (Include relationships developed through attendance at conferences and/or participation in volunteer activities in your region, divisions, sections, and committees. Also, please provide any reason(s) why you recommend membership to others.

For me, the HNBA has meant a lifelong group of friends and an extensive professional network. I recommend membership because the HNBA provides every member the opportunity to build the same network of diverse and capable lawyers and professionals, while promoting diversity in our profession. Now more than ever, it’s critical that every Hispanic attorney turn to the task of promoting the role of Hispanic attorneys at all levels of our profession.

MAY 1, 2020 – ELSA MANZANARES

“My relationships built through the HNBA network are very strong.  Today, some of my closest friends are HNBA members.  Because I’ve learned so much along my journey, it’s very important for me to connect with law students and younger attorneys and HNBA provides consistent opportunities for mentorship.”

Elsa Manzanares serves as a partner in Stinson’s Dallas office.

Elsa advises on U.S. and international regulations of imports and exports, including goods, services, software and technology. She has experience representing clients facing investigations by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of State under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR).

Additionally, Elsa counsels on import transactions administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). She also guides clients through national security reviews conducted by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Elsa advises companies doing business abroad on compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other anti-corruption regulations. She also conducts due diligence and reviews of import, export, sanctions and corruption risks in proposed mergers and acquisitions. She advises on antidumping and countervailing duty matters and on trade litigation before the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Elsa has represented clients in a wide variety of industries, including software companies, defense contractors, manufacturers, retailers and others in industries spanning aerospace, explosives, firearms, chemicals, military training and services, energy, and banking and financial services. She also serves as a member of Stinson’s Coronavirus Task Force.

In addition to her practice, she chairs the Dallas Bar Association’s Minority Participation Committee, serves as vice president of the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association (DHBA), serves as regional president of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) for Region XII (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana) and HNBA Compliance & Ethics Section Co-Chair, and speaks widely on international trade topics. She is also actively involved in her community, serving as a board member of the Dallas nonprofit organizations Frontiers of Flight Museum and Friends of Solar Prep. View Elsa’s full bio here.

Learn More About Elsa (...)

Why did you decide to pursue a career in law, and what aspects of this field do you enjoy the most? 

I remember early on my father sitting down with my two brothers and me and pointing to each of us – ‘you will be an engineer, you will be an architect and Elsa, you will be a lawyer.’ Amazingly, my older brother who liked to take things apart went on to study engineering, and my brother who liked to draw majored in environmental design, so becoming an attorney was just right for me because I couldn’t do either of those things. But I never considered doing anything else. What I enjoy most about being a lawyer is that our skills give us the latitude to become leaders on any issue impacting the community. That is a wonderful gift. I didn’t take my father’s advice on everything- although perhaps I should have – but he certainly saw the potential in me to become the leader I am today.

How did you first learn about the HNBA and what motivated you to join?

It’s hard to believe that I competed in the HNBA moot court competition back in 2000 as a law student at the University of Texas. Years later, I became a member of HNBA because I wanted to connect with other Hispanic attorneys and give back.  I attended the Las Vegas conference and found immediate camaraderie with other members. They haven’t been able to keep me away since then.  

With the recent COVID-19 crisis, the state of the world has changed drastically. As Co-Chair of HNBA’s Compliance & Ethics Section, what do you feel are the biggest issues surrounding legal compliance and ethics in the wake of the pandemic, and what advice do you have for legal professionals going forward to maintain integrity and do their jobs effectively?

Recently I heard someone say there’s nothing like a pandemic to expose and magnify the shortcomings of the institutions that govern our society. The same is true for compliance programs. Underlying vulnerabilities and weaknesses will soon reveal themselves, especially if a program is under resourced and exists only on paper. Reinforcing the tone at the top that compliance remains important (or more so than ever) is critical to ensuring that employees under pressure don’t abandon ethical values for short-term gain. Where the compliance function’s ability to monitor is limited in a remote work environment, it is essential for managers to remind employees to remain vigilant for unusual behaviors and report concerns.

I worked in compliance during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and have seen how this area has matured and “normalized” in the last decade. There are many more seasoned compliance professionals who work in a variety of business settings, understand the business implications of compliance and risk, and work daily to embed ethics principals into their businesses. One of the reasons my colleagues, Richard Montes de Oca, Adrian Sierra, and I founded the HNBA Compliance & Ethics section a few years ago is that we wanted to promote opportunities for Hispanic attorneys in this growth area. Cutting back on compliance when times get lean is not as easy as it used to be. The regulators may be at home, but they are still paying attention.  If you are interested in these issues, please join our section! 

You are a member of Stinson’s Coronavirus Task Force. Can you tell me about your firm’s goals to keep their employees and clients informed with resources surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and how your legal skills and expertise contribute to the Task Force?

We created our Coronavirus Task Force at Stinson to provide clients short and long-term legal guidance during this unprecedented time. As the international trade authority on the Task Force, I have provided insight and guidance on import and export matters, and collectively we provide coordinated guidance to clients on immediate and forward planning needs.

If you could be quarantined with any person, celebrity, or historical figure—real or fictional—who would you choose and why? 

I would want to meet my grandmother as a young woman. I would like to know more about the stories I heard about her growing up in Mexico and Texas in the 1930s.  

What’s one thing (a fun fact, hobby, etc.) people would be surprised to know about you?

People are surprised to hear that I played rugby in college.  I had never played on any team before, but I showed up to practice one day and immediately realized this was the sport for me.     

What has HNBA membership has meant to you both personally and professionally? Include relationships developed through attendance at conferences and/or participation in volunteer activities in your region, divisions, sections, and committees. Also, please provide any reason(s) why you recommend membership to others.

No other group has given me as much personal and professional support as my HNBA familia. I knew I would enjoy becoming a part of HNBA, but I never expected how often members would go out of their way to support me. My relationships built through the HNBA network are very strong.  Today, some of my closest friends are HNBA members.  Because I’ve learned so much along my journey, it’s very important for me to connect with law students and younger attorneys and HNBA provides consistent opportunities for mentorship.

JUNE 4, 2020 – PETER A. GARCIA & ESTEFANI RODRIGUEZ

 “The relationships I formed [through HNBA] and continue to appreciate have allowed me to find ways I can contribute to my communities, such as mentorship programs, as well as find a support network to bring a unified voice on matters that require focus, such as the injustices long oppressed to our black and brown communities, including the mistreatment to my fellow people in Puerto Rico. “

Peter A. Garcia; Associate Principal, FINRA; Union City, New Jersey; Pace University School of Law (2016) and Stillman School of Business – Seton Hall University (2009); Been a member since 2013 (as a law student and now as a young attorney); Treasurer of HNBA Young Lawyers Division.

Peter is a securities and regulatory attorney. Presently, he serves as an Associate Principal at FINRA, a self-regulatory authority that regulates U.S. broker-dealers. In this role, Peter conducts regulatory examinations and investigations to protect investors from harm and ensure market integrity. Prior to joining FINRA, Peter served as Manager at BDO Advisory, a division of BDO USA LLP, providing regulatory advisory services on complex matters for a wide array of institutions (from debt collection firms to private equity complexes), as well as served in regulatory compliance roles at various financial institutions, including TD Ameritrade Institutional. On a personal note, Peter enjoys serving as a mentor (formally and informally) for the future generation of leaders and contributing to volunteer initiatives that empower and better his communities.


 “The HNBA provided me with the community I now turn to for advice in my own career and professional development. I had the honor of participating in the Latina Leadership Academy, which provided me with my very own “squad” comprised of Latina lawyers throughout the country. The Leadership Academy provided me with the confidence and the skills to tap into my own leadership skills and equipped me to boldly use those skills for the benefit of my community. “

Estefani Rodriguez; Attorney Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice; Brooklyn, New York; New York Law School (2016) and CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice (2012); Been a member of HNBA since 2014 as a law student and now serves on the leadership team for the HNBA Young Lawyers Division, Region II.

Estefani is an attorney advisor in the New York Immigration Court. After law school, she was hired by the Department of Justice, through the Attorney General’s honors program, and worked as an attorney advisor in the Miami Immigration Court from 2016 to 2018. In 2016, she graduated cum laude from New York Law School. In 2012, she graduated magna cum laude from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she majored in criminal justice and minored in sociology. Estefani is the daughter of immigrants from Santiago, Dominican Republic. Estefani is passionate about diversity in the legal profession, immigration, and mentorship.
 

Learn More About Peter & Estefani (...)

Why did you decide to pursue a career in law, and what aspects of this field do you enjoy the most?

Peter (PG):  Like many in our community, I did not have a close family member or person in my inner circle who was a lawyer.  After completing my undergraduate journey, I worked in the securities regulatory field.  There, I met and worked with attorneys and learned how their legal education and experience allowed them to not only excel in the securities regulatory world, but also provided them limitless opportunities.  It was then that I decided to pursue a career in the law where I can either continue advancing in the securities regulatory environment and/or explore enriching experiences, whatever they may be. 

Estefani (ER):  As a graduate with a criminal justice and sociology degree, I learned about the deficiencies within our criminal justice system and how people of color are often at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining legal representation. I also witnessed family members grapple with the criminal justice system often on their own or with the help of a qualified yet overworked legal aid attorney. I also witnessed my aunt who was scammed by a notario who promised efficient legal representation in immigration proceedings. My background in criminal justice and my own personal experience as a child of immigrants sparked my dream to help effectuate change within the legal system, diversify the legal community, and inspire young adults to join the legal community.

How did you first learn about the HNBA and what motivated you to join?

PG and ER:  We first learned about HNBA while in law school.  We were fortunate that HNBA Regions II and III, as well as the sister organization, HBA-NJ, have been and continue to be very active in providing invaluable programming events, networking opportunities, and most importantly, leadership who empower and mentor aspiring and young attorneys. 

With the recent COVID-19 crisis, the state of the world has changed drastically. What do you foresee as the greatest challenges for law students, young lawyers, and in the legal profession going forward, and what advice do you have to offer to current law students and young lawyers who may be faced with uncertainty?

PG:  I believe the biggest challenge for all, but particularly those aspiring to pursue and current in the legal profession, is uncertainty; however, with uncertainty comes opportunities.  We must not forget that the overwhelming value we attorneys bring to others is advising on complex and uncertain matters.  There are organizations that need guidance on privacy laws to handle the demands for remote work, use of dynamic communications (think:  Zoom and Teams), and treatment of employees once shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted (can you ask for medical information, take employees temperatures, are there safeguard requirements for maintaining any medical information?).  COVID-19, coupled with the recent coalitions demanding for justice and reform for our black and brown brothers and sisters, are creating new demands and needs for all attorneys. 

With that said, my advice is to identify what area you wish to focus on in your career and once found, take the time to learn as much as you can and network with those in those fields.  This may be the same advice you would receive in normal times, but it holds true in all times.  Also, stay positive and surround yourself with folks who empower and support you. 

ER: I believe the greatest challenge for law students and young lawyers in light of the COVID-19 crisis is the loss of opportunities and the fear of what the legal profession would look like in a modern-day recession. My advice to law students and young lawyers living with fear is to continue to push forward, continue to network within your desired practice area, take a risk and explore a new practice area, and seek out mentors who can encourage and motivate you when the going gets tough. You did not make it this far to only make it this far. Stay positive and continue to work towards your future!

The coalition you created, Community Support Effort, raised over $10,000 and provided an opportunity for several minority and special-interest legal organizations to give back to the community and frontline workers/first responders. How did this idea come about, and what are the plans for the future of this initiative?

PG and ER: Well, before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, we wanted to work on a project that will provide a meaningful and positive impact in our communities.  After seeing and experiencing the devastating impact caused by COVID-19, we re-grouped and realized this was our moment to take action.

We reflected on various news coverages and personal friends regarding the impact on small businesses and to those working on the front line at the hospitals.  After speaking with all of them, we learned how minority-owned restaurants – the main source of income for their families – were struggling to survive in this shelter-in-place environment.  We also learned how frontline workers who were eager and motivated to help as many people as possible with little resources and while working long hours with no time to eat a nutritious meal.  That’s when the idea came about:  we decided we wanted to strategize and collaborate with leadership in the legal profession to find ways to support minority-owned businesses by purchasing meals to donate to frontline workers. 

What originally started with a handful of affinity bar associations, quickly expanded to 20 organizations representing lawyers, judges, legal professionals, and law students in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area. The funds these organizations committed allowed us to purchase meals from 10 minority-owned restaurants to donate nearly 1,100 meals to 9 hospitals and 1 facility that employed paramedics (New York and New Jersey). 

Because of all the work we devoted for this effort, we were able to sort the complicated logistics between issuing and receiving payments, contacts for the minority-owned restaurants and contacts for various hospitals.  With this established, we are able to facilitate additional funding in a large scale, as we did with the 20 organizations, and/or direct interested individuals and organizations specifically to the restaurants and hospitals.  We hope to continue being a resource for this and other similar efforts. 

What’s one thing (a fun fact, hobby, etc.) people would be surprised to know about you?

PG:  I really enjoy the craft of being a great basketball player.  I have not had the time to go outside to practice and play ball, but I enjoy the sport. 

ER: I am a regular at my local crossfit gym (Crow Hill Crossfit) and I played the saxophone in my elementary school’s band.

Complete these sentences:

The first place I’ll visit on vacation (once it is safe to do so) _________. Why?

PG:  Puerto Rico!  Sure, I am Boricua, but I love spending time there with my mother, uncle and aunt, while enjoying good food and great weather.  However, I do want to re-visit Japan since I love the culture and experience, but unfortunately, it may not be my first trip.

ER: Europe, most likely Germany, Paris, or Barcelona! I had the pleasure of studying abroad in Italy during undergrad and I fell in love with the culture, music, and food. I am looking forward to exploring other countries in Europe.

The one restaurant or food I miss most right now is _________. Why?

PG:  I miss the pizza from Adrienne’s Pizza Bar located in New York City (Financial District).  The pizza is always made just right and delicious – and it does not hurt you can order a drink from the bar.

ER: My mother’s rice and beans with stewed chicken AND the ability to eat this meal with my mother in her home. I have continued to keep my distance from my parents in an effort to protect them from contracting the virus.

These days, I’m keeping busy doing ___________…

PG:  I’m devoting quite a bit of time for personal reading; however, I get sidetrack oftentimes as I collaborate with brilliant and active leaders through the Dominican Bar Association, Metropolitan Black Bar Association, HNBA Young Lawyers Division, and the FINRA Latino/a Affinity Network (FLAN, where I serve as co-chair). 

ER: I have been keeping busy by enrolling in a Harvard class on Christianity through its Scriptures, keeping a regular fitness routine, and reading for pleasure. I also have continued to build community through my church, Hillsong NYC and help plan informative events as a board member for the Dominican Bar Association.

What has HNBA membership has meant to you both personally and professionally? (Include relationships developed through attendance at conferences and/or participation in volunteer activities in your region, divisions, sections, and committees. Also, please provide any reason(s) why you recommend membership to others.

PG: The main benefit I received through HNBA has been the personal and professional relationships – and this is one of many benefits others will undoubtedly experience as well.

While in law school and since then, I developed relationships with, for example, Neysa Alsina (former HNBA Region II President), Robert Maldonado (former HNBA National President), Frank Francis (current Region II President), Melinda Cox (current HBA-NJ President), Julia Lopez (current HNBA Region III President) – all of these HNBA leaders have enriched my life personally and professionally.  However, I developed many more relationships with others that would be too much to detail, but they also include Estefani Rodriguez and Stephanie Robayo – who at the time we met at an HNBA joint networking event, we were just law students, but overtime we changed from acquaintances to friends to a married couple.

The relationships I formed [through HNBA] and continue to appreciate have allowed me to find ways I can contribute to my communities, such as mentorship programs, as well as find a support network to bring a unified voice on matters that require focus, such as the injustices long oppressed to our black and brown communities, including the mistreatment to my fellow people in Puerto Rico. 

ER: For me, my HNBA membership means familia, community, and leadership. Through the HNBA, I was able to network with other professionals while in law school and after law school as a legal professional. I was able to attend numerous events to learn about other practice areas, obtain CLEs, or celebrate diversity in the legal profession. The HNBA provided me with the community I now turn to for advice in my own career and professional development. I had the honor of participating in the Latina Leadership Academy, which provided me with my very own “squad” comprised of Latina lawyers throughout the country. The Leadership Academy provided me with the confidence and the skills to tap into my own leadership skills and equipped me to boldly use those skills for the benefit of my community. Most importantly, HNBA has provided me with meaningful friendships and mentors that have made an impact in my professional and personal life. I recommend an HNBA membership to others, especially during COVID-19, because the HNBA is invested in our personal and professional development. I have no doubt that the HNBA will continue to provide resources, mentorship, and encouragement during these difficult times.