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  1. National Hispanic Heritage Month Profile – Ernesto R. Palomo

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    HLAI is proud of the work of its members, like Ernesto, particularly during this month. Please read his personal statement below.

    What service to the Latino community impassions you?

    Beginning on the day he announced his candidacy for President, the current occupant of the White House branded Latino immigrants as “rapists” and “drug dealers” and a drain on public resources. During a presidential debate, the candidate told the entire country that “[w]e have some bad hombres here, and we’re ‎going to get them out.”‎ He referred to Latino immigrants as an “infestation” and advocated that undocumented immigrants should be deported immediately without any due process. As President, he adopted a hardline stance on immigration and literally ripped immigrant children away from their parents in order to discourage immigration from Mexico and other Latin ‎American countries.‎ These sentiments have incited horrific violence against the Latino community.

    Based in large part on the Administration’s complete disregard for the humanity of our community, I decided to volunteer my services towards defeating the controversial “citizenship question” from appearing on the 2020 U.S. Census. The Census Bureau itself concluded that the citizenship question may be a determining factor for millions of Latinos in deciding whether to participate in the 2020 Census. The inevitable undercounting of Latinos would cause Latino communities to lose federal funding in critical areas such as education, healthcare, and other social services. It would cause a dilution of political power in the Latino community and may actually prevent non-English-speaking Latino citizens from exercising their right to vote. Finally, it would reduce capital investments in the Latino community and hinder emergency responders from adequately preparing to deal with natural disasters in Latino communities. I lead a team of Locke Lord LLP attorneys in drafting an Amicus Curiae brief filed on behalf of LatinoJustice PRLDEF and 15 other Latino organizations in the United States Supreme Court case Department of Commerce v. New York. On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question from the 2020 Census. This was most rewarding experience of my legal career, and I encourage all HLAI members to take on causes that protect the rights of the Latino community.

    A link to the Amicus Curiae brief can be found here –

    Ernesto Rafael Palomo

  2. National Hispanic Heritage Month Profile – Daniel R. Hernandez

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    What service to the Latino community impassions you?

    Serving my Latinx brothers and sisters impassions me. I have built a law practice where our only billing method is a reasonable flat-monthly fee. A majority of the Firm’s clients are Spanish speaking only and earn wages that disqualify them from receiving pro bono services, however, they cannot afford the uncertainty of the traditional hourly rate. Our fee structure has assisted so many Latinx clients, who only dreamed of affording a lawyer. My ability to communicate with them in Spanish creates a level of openness where the client feels no judgment based on their immigration status or legal situation.

    My service to the Latinx Community is also at the heart of my volunteer work. I am proud that I regularly receive pro bono Guardian Ad Litem appointments for children who only speak Spanish. This provides a level of protection and comfort to children within the Domestic Relations realm. As Vice President of the Board of Directors at Between Friends, a nonprofit committed to ending domestic violence, I regularly meet with and work on behalf of a majority Latinx client population. I also advocate on LGBTQ Latinx legal issue through my work and leadership at the Annual LGBTQ Summit by the Hispanic National Bar Association. The summit brings together LGBTQ Latinx attorneys and empowers them to build and advocate for a stronger LGBTQ Latinx community.

    My service, through my practice and volunteer work, presents multiple touch points of individual conversations that strongly impact the Latinx Community. You see, by having a conversation in Spanish, you can calm someone’s worries, relieve their stress, and empower them with the confidence to continue forward. By bringing together Latinx attorneys and having conversations concerning our community, we progress policy issues by way of the courts and legislature. These conversations become small acts. when multiplied, bring the community together truly progress it forward.

    Daniel R. Hernandez

  3. National Hispanic Heritage Month Profile – Leilani Pino

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    What service to the Latino community impassions you?

    My driving force as a first generation Cuban-American attorney is to encourage Latinx students to join me in the courtroom. Since I began practicing, I continue to find myself being the only Hispanic attorney in the courtroom. I have made it my mission to inspire Latinx students to realize their potential for a practice in litigation. I work with several organizations to assist Latinx law students in their clerkships and internships so they can be better prepared for their future practice. I also regularly reach out to my network of attorneys to help guide Latinx law students. I am committed to changing the future legal landscape by including as many Latinx lawyers as I can and I hope others to do the same.

    Leilani Pino

  4. National Hispanic Heritage Month Profile – Leynee A. Cruz

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    What service to the Latino community impassions you?

    In my probate and estates practice, I work extensively with individuals and families navigating loss. For Latino families, these legal processes can be even more intimidating and difficult to traverse. It has been my privilege to assist families from all backgrounds in every aspect of probate and guardianship administration and litigation. I am also proud to be able to help on a volunteer basis with the Center for Disability & Elder Law in Chicago and other organizations where I have advised, drafted and executed estate planning documents for low-income elderly and disabled clients, many of whom have been Latinos. It has also been my honor to assist Cuban national beneficiaries working alongside attorneys in Havana, Cuba.

    It is through service to others that I find fulfillment, whether as a volunteer, guardian ad lidem, or in my daily work. Any contribution that I can make to the Latino community, particularly the elderly and disabled, through my work has rewarded me beyond words. I will continue to give back to Latinos with my legal expertise and through my presidency of HLAI and beyond. I encourage you to do the same and connect with our organization in the furtherance of service to others.

    Leynee A. Cruz,
    President 2019/20


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    Below are a list of resources from the 2018 STATE OF LATINOS IN LAW SYMPOSIUM that will take place on Friday, October 12, 2018 at the Dirksen Federal Building. For more details regarding this event, visit


    SOLL 2018 – PROGRAM








  6. President’s Message – 2018

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    President’s Message
    I am honored to serve as your 23rd President of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and to be given the oath of office by Chief Judge Ruben Castillo of the Northern District of Illinois. It was a truly inspiring experience to celebrate with my family and so many of you at the HLAI/HLAI Charities Gala at The Wit Hotel. Continue Reading