On February 25, 2013, the 2nd Annual Dean’s Multicultural Luncheon was held. Guests included UST faculty, staff, alumni, students, as well as leaders in the legal community who are committed to furthering diversity in the legal profession. Dean Robert Vischer welcomed the guests by speaking about the importance of diversity at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and introduced the keynote speaker, Peter M. Reyes, Jr.
Mr. Reyes is a native of Minnesota, and is currently President of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and a senior in-house patent attorney at Cargill. He began by speaking about his personal commitment to diversity throughout his legal profession. Mr. Reyes is the grandson of migrant workers, born and raised in St. Paul, MN, and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He mentioned the hardships he encountered due to a lack of mentors within his family, as he often felt that he did not have anyone to turn to for advice when he was going through law school, and how this experience has shaped his various leadership roles.
As President of the HNBA, Mr. Reyes has been committed to furthering diversity in leadership in general, thus preparing the legal profession to welcome future diverse leaders, apart from himself. He spoke about his personal experiences in going to legal conferences and feeling overwhelmed by the lack of diversity present. He noted that people are drawn toward others that are similar to themselves, and how this leads to a need for diverse leadership in order to promote inclusiveness.
Mr. Reyes also spoke about the need that law firms have for diverse attorneys. Corporations are demanding that the firms they hire accurately represent their corporation as well as their customers; as diversity increases in America, the demand for diverse attorneys has also increased. People of color make up a large portion of the American population, and clients want to hire attorneys that they feel they can relate to. The luncheon ended with a call to action for students, alumni, and members of the community to help increase the amount of diversity in the legal profession. Whether it’s through mentoring, participating in bar association activities, or just having a conversation with someone at a conference, we all have the ability to help lead the profession toward a more diverse future.
Post by: Beatriz Espinoza (2L), Office of Diversity Intern