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Lewis Brisbois Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month 2022

(September 15, 2022) - Lewis Brisbois is pleased to be celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month this year from September 15 through October 15. In honor of this month of recognition, we look forward to sharing a series of spotlight posts featuring our Hispanic American colleagues reflecting upon the importance of this month and mentorship within the Hispanic and legal communities. We begin this series with an opening message from the firm’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Keep an eye on this page and the firm's social media feeds for more posts in the coming weeks. Learn more about DEI at Lewis Brisbois here.

The members of Lewis Brisbois’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, on behalf of everyone at the firm, invite you to join us in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15. During this event, we will be shining a spotlight on the Hispanic American members of the Lewis Brisbois family by sharing a series of posts in which these individuals will reflect upon the impact that mentorship has had on their professional and personal experiences.     We look forward to honoring our Hispanic American colleagues as well as the many generations of Hispanic Americans who have enriched our nation and communities. We are grateful for their contributions and for the opportunity to learn from their unique perspectives.

The first contribution in our National Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight series comes from Los Angeles Partner Leo Bautista, who expresses gratitude for his own mentors and discusses his enjoyment of mentoring others. He also acknowledges the “huge contributions” that members of the Hispanic community have made to our nation.

Leo is a member of the firm's Intellectual Property & Technology Group and co-chair of its Franchise & Distribution and Trade Secrets & Non-Compete Disputes Practices. A certified specialist of franchise and distribution law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, Leo focuses his practice on intellectual property, commercial litigation, and franchising matters.

Learn more about Leo’s professional experience here.

“National Hispanic Heritage Month gives us all a chance to recognize and appreciate the huge contributions that Hispanic individuals of all origins have made to this country – from fighting on the front lines of its wars, to spicing up its cuisine, to enhancing what is the U.S. economic powerhouse through entrepreneurship, education, investment, consumerism, and labor. It also gives us an opportunity to express gratitude for our mentors and those who came before us, paving the way for the success of future generations. In my career as an attorney, I have benefited tremendously from the mentorship of others. Similarly, I enjoy serving as a mentor to Hispanic individuals within the legal community and beyond as they navigate their own professional and personal journeys. Moreover, in my practice, I represent Hispanic clients zealously, supporting them as they strive to achieve the ‘American Dream.’ I commend Lewis Brisbois for trying to do its part in increasing the representation of Hispanics among members of the Bar, and for its overall commitment to diversity.”

The next contribution in our National Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight series comes from Fort Lauderdale Partner Marcela Gyires, who describes how a mentor helped her navigate a career path in business immigration law that has lasted more than 11 years. She also reflects upon the meaning of this month and giving back to the Hispanic community.

Marcela is a member of Lewis Brisbois' Immigration Practice and is board certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education. She is also a board member of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association.

Learn more about Marcela's professional experience here.

“As a Mexican immigrant practicing immigration law, Hispanic Heritage Month is special both to me and to many of my clients who seek employment, residence, or citizenship here. It is a time to honor and give thanks to our roots that continue to bring so many special contributions to America. It’s also a time to reflect upon the positive impact that mentorship can have on members of the Hispanic community. Mentorship has been an integral part of my professional development and has allowed me to practice in the particular area of immigration law I find most rewarding. Thirteen years ago, when I was handling removal and deportation-related immigration matters, I became interested in transitioning into business immigration. My supervisor at the time introduced me to a Hispanic attorney who practiced this type of immigration law. This new attorney not only taught me about business immigration, but also assisted me with establishing a practice in this area of law and has served as a mentor to me ever since. As a result of her guidance and friendship, I have been able to follow the career path I desired. I still reach out to her regularly for advice.  Based on my own experience with a wonderful mentor, I  urge my fellow Hispanic professionals to use this month as  a time to form long-lasting bonds with the next generation  of difference makers.”

In our next National Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight post, we hear from Los Angeles Virtual Events Specialist Erendira Ortiz-Zarate, who explains that although she attributes her success to her family and community first, her mentors have also been invaluable in her professional journey, helping her prepare for the transition into the working world.

Erendira is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Marketing team. She works with attorneys across the firm’s nationwide network to create and execute bespoke presentations for client and industry events.

Learn more about Erendira’s professional experience here

“After moving from Mexico to California, my community significantly shrank. I was in a new place where I didn’t know the customs, language, or even how to write the date anymore. I had family here that had immigrated in the years before mine who helped me in any way they could, but I still felt lost when it came to speaking up in class or passing my ESL tests. Over time, I was able to rely more heavily on my peers and teachers to adapt to my new circumstances. By the time I got to university, I was completely assimilated while still having a strong connection with my cultural roots. However, I didn’t know what to do from there. Most of my blue-collar family wasn’t able to help me prepare for interviews, job applications, or career planning. The emotional support in ‘échale ganas mija’ was my biggest driver as I started navigating what I was going to do after graduation. Luckily, I was able to find some amazing mentors through a Latino organization at my university who prepared me to enter the working world. Through mock interviews, résumé workshops, and even personal pep talks,  I learned more about the corporate world and was able to network successfully within it, eventually leading to my new role at  Lewis Brisbois, working with talented and diverse professionals across the country. While my family and community will always be at the forefront of my success, the mentors I’ve gathered over the years from various classes, jobs, and coincidences will always have a special place in my life.”

The next contribution in our National Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight series comes from Seattle Associate Aryn Seiler, who describes her impactful mentor/mentee relationship with Houston Partner Joelle Nelson. She also calls on partners during this month to view themselves as "a conduit of information, knowledge, resources, access, and friendship" to those who face challenges as a result of their heritage. 

Aryn is a member of the firm's General Liability Practice and has practiced law in Oregon, New Mexico, and Washington. She focuses on the defense of corporate clients of all sizes in litigation concerning professional liability and long-term care. Learn more about her professional experience here.

In our next National Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight, we hear from Fort Lauderdale Virtual Programs Manager Ashley Casanovas, who explains that she always knew mentorship would be “key to [her] success." She describes how seeking out mentors throughout her educational career resulted in the confidence she feels in bringing her “authentic self to work every day.”

Ashley is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Marketing team. An experienced programming manager, she works with attorneys throughout the firm to create customized virtual presentations for internal, client, and industry events.

Learn more about Ashley’s professional experience here

Next, we hear from Hartford Associate Aaron Arias, who describes how connecting with mentors had several positive impacts on his education and professional career. Urging his Hispanic colleagues to reach out to the next generation of Hispanic professionals, he credits his mentors with allowing him to pursue the legal career that he always desired.

Aaron is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ General Liability Practice. He handles matters throughout all stages of litigation. Outside of his practice, Aaron is an active member of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association and the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association.

Learn more about Aaron’s professional experience here

In our next National Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight, we hear from Houston Paralegal Elizabeth Trevino, who discusses the many important values that she embodies as a result of her Hispanic heritage as well as her mother’s influence. She also explains that she feels lucky to work in an environment where her colleagues understand the importance of culture and diversity.

In her role as a paralegal, Elizabeth works with Lewis Brisbois’ attorneys on a variety of complex matters. Learn more about her professional experience here.

“I love my Hispanic heritage and I am proud to be a Hispanic woman. My heritage reflects music, art, great food, strength, and traditions – all reflections of who I am. My family migrated from Spain in the 1800s, obtaining land grants for a large part of South Texas. They farmed and ranched to create better lives for their families. They brought over a very rich, family-oriented, and diverse culture. They also suffered discrimination and hardships, but overcame adversity through hard work. In particular, my mother, who was one of my earliest mentors, set a strong example for me and my siblings. While things weren’t always easy, she exemplified an unwavering determination to give her five ‘niños’ a better life. Like her parents and grandparents, she was committed to putting family and tradition first. As a result, she gave me the tools necessary to provide care for those who are struggling, guidance to those facing adversity, and positivity to those having a bad day. I am always here with positivity, a warm smile, and a caring heart. In my professional life, I am thankful to work at Lewis Brisbois – a place where I can share and celebrate my Hispanic heritage with so many wonderful people. My colleagues understand the importance of diversity and culture. My wish is to continue to pass on the traditions of hard work, strength, care, and love to everyone around me.”


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