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With an emphasis on culture and celebration not generally felt at other bar meetings, the Hispanic National Bar Association is expected to draw 600-700 lawyers to Chicago Oct. 4-8, all of them looking to connect to the legal community and their heritage. Unlike “other” bar associations that HNBA Regional President Clarissa Cerda declined to name, the Hispanic bar, she said, is a more “festive and close-knit kind of group.” “HNBA Conventions really end up being kind of a celebration,” she said. One only has to take a look at the schedule of events to see what she means. Each evening after a regimen of seminars, student job fairs and exhibits, attendees can expect a cultural show followed by receptions, dinner and dancing. Organizers promise “the best salsa and merengue the City of Chicago has to offer.” The Hispanic National Bar Association, founded in 1972 as the La Raza National Lawyers Association, now boasts 25,000 members and this year marks the organization’s 25th annual meeting — making the celebration particularly festive. “We really do make a conscious effort to celebrate our cultural heritage in addition to our legal profession,” said Cerda, general counsel of Open Port Technology and of counsel to Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal. But Cerda and annual meeting chair Angel Gomez, recently selected as president elect of the HNBA, are quick to point out there is more to the convention than the bands and after-hours parties. While the banquets and after-hours events are the most popular attractions, Gomez, of Juritas.com, said the heart of the convention is the 25 continuing legal education seminars covering everything from legal practice areas to immigration law to e-commerce. He’s particularly proud of the 40 private and public employers assembling in Chicago to interview more than 100 students from the nation’s top 30 law schools. The job fair furthers one of the HNBA’s goals, to increase diversity in the legal profession by encouraging law firms and government agencies to hire and retain more Hispanic lawyers, Gomez said. On Thursday, reception-goers will hear from Dr. Samuel Betances, a leading social scientist who is to talk about the role of Hispanics in America’s future. The next afternoon, at the Latina Lawyer’s Luncheon, the keynote will be Ida Castro, chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And on Saturday, the judge’s division is set to meet to discuss, among other things, its Supreme Court Short List. New officers, including incoming President Rafael Santiago, of Connecticut, will be recognized at a gala reception set for Saturday evening. For more information about attending the convention, contact the HNBA at its national headquarters in McLean, Va., by calling (703) 610-9038 or visiting www.hnba.com http://www.hnba.com . To obtain one of a limited number of tickets for individual events, contact Angel Gomez at (312) 424-0800 ext. 116.

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