By Enrique Flores, Flores Law Group LLC
On Nov. 3, 2021, the Indianapolis Bar Association Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly to create a Hispanic Lawyers Committee. The creation of the committee was another important step in IndyBar’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan adapted at the beginning of 2021. As someone who advocates for DEI at every level of our profession, I was beyond honored to chair the first year of the committee. I was also fortunate enough to have a great group of attorneys and law students who helped make our first year one to remember.
Near the end of 2021, I received an email from Julie Armstrong asking for input on the creation of a committee for Hispanic lawyers. Julie explained that the creation of the committee was necessary to better serve all legal professionals and students. For those who may have missed it, the IndyBar brought together a group of diverse legal professionals in the summer of 2020 to analyze the IndyBar’s procedures and make recommendations that would promote diversity, equity and inclusion. The recommendations were implemented immediately. I was one of the vice presidents of the IndyBar’s board in 2021 and 2022, so I witnessed firsthand the changes at our organization. I was not surprised that there was interest in creating the Hispanic Lawyers Committe; I was surprised that they asked me to chair it in its first year.
For a moment, I wanted to reiterate my full support for the committee and pass on the opportunity to lead it through its first year. While precariously balancing a full plate with my solo practice, a baby and involvement in different organizations, I accepted. I am glad I did. I had gladly accepted the invitation to the group that shaped the DEI recommendations so attorneys, law students and legal professionals who identify as members of an underrepresented group could have a place to belong. Heading the Hispanic Lawyers Committee allowed me the privilege to witness the enthusiasm the group applied to every project.
The recruiting process was extremely fruitful. Fellow attorneys, judges and law students joined immediately. From our first meeting, a strong core group hit the ground running. We immediately designated future leadership that included its current chair, Adriana Figueroa. We also established bylaws, identified issues in our community that needed our attention and even planned CLEs. Our first program, which we planned in conjunction with the Solo/Small Firm Division, was entitled “I AM the Attorney.” (We did not thank Solo/Small and its then-chair, Claire Emswiller for their support at the time, so, “Thank you!”) The CLE with a social that followed was a panel of female Hispanic attorneys who spoke about their experiences practicing in Indiana. The event attracted Hispanic attorneys from other cities, including Fort Wayne, further confirming the need for groups like the Hispanic Lawyers Committee.
The group’s commitment was not tied to any kind of expectation of recognition but the understanding that Hispanic/Latinx legal professionals, law students and our community in general needed a gathering place to work on solutions. However, our group’s efforts did not go unnoticed, and on Sept. 15, 2022, the board voted to change the committee to the Hispanic Lawyers Division. The promotion came with greater responsibility, but the division maintained its pace.
The Hispanic Lawyers Division may be new, but its members know that the issues surrounding its creation have existed for a long time. That spirit guided us from the beginning and will propel future leaders to do great things. The honor of leading the division in its first year is not lost on me. I am proud of our accomplishments but feel mostly lucky that I was surrounded by such a passionate group.•