A national event for Latinas at all phases of their career begins this weekend at St. Mary’s University School of Law.
The Lawtina Network Summit will bring together pre-law students, law students, practicing lawyers and allies of Latinas in the legal profession. A welcome dinner takes place Friday evening followed by a full Saturday of programs. The summit will include information sessions, relationship-building activities and networking opportunities.
The keynote luncheon speakers will feature a panel of Latina judges who will speak about their experiences in the profession, including U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo of the Southern District of Texas’ Laredo Division, Bexar County District Judge Antonia “Toni” Arteaga, Chief Justice Rebeca Martinez of San Antonio’s Fourth Court of Appeals and Chief Justice Dori Contreras of Corpus Christi’s Thirteenth Court of Appeals.
The event is put on through a partnership between the law school’s Lawtina Network student organization and title sponsor Helix Bar Review by AccessLex. Third-year law student Brianna Chapa, the president and founder of the Lawtina Network student organization, said in a statement the event will “enable Latinas to thrive, find a community, and, ultimately, increase Latina representation across all legal careers.”
Chapa was inspired to connect the Latina legal community after working at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where a law clerk told her that she had never worked with other Latina attorneys until meeting Chapa.
“Some people are fortunate to come from a family of lawyers. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for most Latina lawyers,” Chapa said. “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.”
The Lawtina summit was inspired by an event Chapa spearheaded in 2021 catered to aspiring Latina lawyers called the Latina in Training 1L Bootcamp. More than 150 students from law schools nationwide enrolled in the event. The sponsors for this weekend’s event provided scholarships for 100 students to attend the conference. Chapa said 150 total guests are expected from across the state and country.
During the Fall 2021 semester, nearly 51 percent of incoming law students at St. Mary’s identified as Hispanic and 57 percent identified as female.
“St. Mary’s Law is privileged to be the southern-most law school in Texas and is proud to serve a student body that is reflective of our region,” Dean Patricia Roberts said in a statement. “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.”
Sponsors for the conference include Watts Guerra and the Espinoza Law Firm, both of San Antonio. The 100 scholarships were funded by 10 sponsors, but the only corporate law firm on the list is Kirkland & Ellis.