Edward J. Loya Jr. on the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association

We sat down with Dallas Hispanic Bar Association 2024 President Edward J. Loya Jr. to discuss the association, his plans for the year and any changes ahead for the organization.

AALM: What is the association’s main focus this year?

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EJL: In addition to administering the DHBA’s three flagship programs—the Latina Leadership Program, the Judicial Externship Program, and the Scholarship Program—DHBA has three main goals for 2024.

First, we are aiming to highlight our DHBA law firm partner, in-house counsel, and associate members, so that we can raise the profiles of our members and facilitate productive relationships within DHBA and between DHBA and the broader legal community.

Second, we are seeking to strengthen our ties with local, statewide, and national bar association partners—including the Dallas Bar Association (DBA), the Dallas Allied Bars and diverse bar associations, the State Bar of Texas, other Texas-based Hispanic bar organizations, and the Hispanic National Bar Association—so that DHBA’s voice may be heard in critical discussions that will make the legal profession and our justice system more responsive to the needs of the Hispanic community.

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Third, we are working to put our members in a position to compete for important public-sector jobs in courtrooms and office settings that regularly interface with the DFW Hispanic community, including judicial externships and clerkships, federal and state prosecutor positions, and federal and state public defender positions.

AALM: How would you encourage a young lawyer to become involved in the legal community?

EJL: We strongly encourage interested persons to join DHBA and DBA. As of February 2024, DHBA counted nearly 100 active law student members, which underscores both DHBA’s outreach to law student communities and young lawyers and the high value placed by law students and young lawyers on DHBA membership. Both the President-Elect, Berenice Medellin, and I serve on the DBA Board of Directors. DHBA and DBA work hand-in-hand to provide timely programs and opportunities for engagement and collaboration within our local legal community.

AALM: What kind of changes are in store for the association over the next few years?

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EJL: In the coming years, we anticipate that DHBA’s membership will continue to grow significantly, consistent with DFW’s growing Hispanic population and DHBA’s standing and influence in the Dallas legal community.

As of February 2024, DHBA counted over 600 active members. DHBA’s membership has quadrupled over the last few years. Our DHBA members work in every sector of the DFW legal community, including the judiciary; international and national law firms, boutique law firms, and small and solo practices; corporate in-house counsel offices; federal and state agencies; federal and state prosecutors’ offices; criminal defense law firms; and legal aid offices and public interest law firms.

AALM: What are some exciting events coming up?

EJL: DHBA’s largest Annual Event is the Noche de Luz Gala, which will be held October 5, 2024. Noche de Luz honors individuals and organizations that are lighting the path to success in the legal profession for the DFW Hispanic community. It is the DHBA’s largest fundraiser; the funds we raise are used to support DHBA’s Latina Leadership Program, Judicial Externship Program, and Scholarship Program.

AALM: Are there any changes in the legal community that the association is involved with?

EJL: We are proud of the work DHBA is doing to collaborate with the Dallas Allied Bars and the broader Dallas legal community. In December 2023, I worked with Elissa Wev, president of the Dallas LGBT Bar Association and fellow DHBA member, to convene a brunch with the presidents of the Dallas Allied Bar Associations, DBA President Bill Mateja, and the Co-Chairs of the DBA’s Equality Committee and Minority Participation Committee, so that our local bar presidents and leaders could get to know one another better. Through these relationships, DHBA—together and working hand-in-hand with the Dallas Allied Bars and diverse bar associations, the DBA, and the Dallas Trial Lawyers Association—organized the first ever Dallas Allied Bars Judges “Mixer” on February 20, 2024. DHBA looks forward to more opportunities to collaborate with fellow bar leaders and organizations, in an effort to create a more vibrant, inclusive, and responsive legal community.

AALM: How is the association involved in the local community?

EJL: In March 2024, DHBA staffed the DBA’s Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program’s Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Each year, DHBA members participate on panels at local law schools and high schools, aimed at providing students with insight regarding the rule of law and our justice system, as well as pathways to the legal profession. During this election season, DHBA will look for opportunities to counsel the public on non-partisan legal issues, including voting rights and civic education.

AALM: Are there any changes that the association wants to see in the legal community?

EJL: DFW has one of the largest concentrations of Hispanics anywhere in the country. Yet, Hispanics are severely underrepresented in places involving high-profile positions of public trust in our legal community. As we have seen in DHBA’s member highlights, DHBA’s members are highly successful, credentialed, and experienced. We would like to see more Hispanic representation on the Dallas Bar Association and Texas State Bar Boards of Directors—as well as in our DFW state and federal judiciary, prosecutors’ offices, and public defenders’ offices.

AALM: If someone wanted to move into a leadership role, what is your first word of advice?

EJL: All DHBA board positions are elected and DHBA committee chair and co-chair positions are by board appointment. Anyone interested in serving on a DHBA committee or in a leadership role can contact me at [email protected] to learn more.

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