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TCL > October 2012 Issue > Denver Law Latino Alumni Raise Funds for Scholarship

October 2012       Vol. 41, No. 10       Page  19
In and Around the Bar
Bar News Highlight

Denver Law Latino Alumni Raise Funds for Scholarship
by Lucia Padilla

About the Author

Lucia Padilla is an attorney at Sawaya & Miller, specializing in employment law. She is a member of the Denver Bar Association Board of Trustees and a Denver Law alumna.

The first reunion of Latino alumni from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law (Denver Law) was held June 22–23, 2012. The primary purpose of the event was to raise funds for the Yegge Hispanic Scholarship Fund. The scholarship honors Dean Emeritus Robert B. Yegge, who served as Dean of Denver Law from 1965 to 1977 and who passed away in 2006.

Formation of the Yegge Scholarship Fund

In 1967, Dean Yegge made a commitment to increase the number of Hispanic lawyers in the Southwest through a unique minority scholarship program at Denver Law. At that time, there were only fourteen Hispanic lawyers licensed to practice law in Colorado. In 1968, Dean Yegge helped create the American Bar Association’s National Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) and established a national scholarship program to increase minority lawyers in the United States.

The first students admitted through Dean Yegge’s program started the Mexican American Law Student Association, which exists today as the Latino Law Student Association. When these students graduated, they went on to form the Chicano Bar Association in 1977, which is now the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association (CHBA).

Originally established by the Denver Law Alumni Council and later supplemented by the CHBA, the Yegge Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance to Denver Latino law students or those who show dedication to serving the Hispanic community. Before he passed away in December 2006, Dean Yegge ensured that much of his estate was donated to the fund.

The sidebar lists the alumni who served on the founding committee of the Yegge Scholarship Fund. Twelve of the founding members are pictured below with Denver Law Dean Martin J. Katz.

Back row, left to right: Robert Maes, Rene Ramirez, Mike Pina, Richard Trevino, A. Baltazar Baca, Alfredo Peña. Front row, left to right: Dean Martin Katz, Ralph Torres, Danny Anchondo, Aurora Ruiz Hernández, Justice Patricio Serna, Ken Padilla, José Mora.

Yegge Scholarship Fund Founding Committee

Danny Anchondo (JD ’73)
Baltazar Baca (JD ’72)
John Barajas (JD ’84)
Ruth Casarez (JD ’73)
Joe Chávez (JD ’82)
Aurora Ruiz Hernandez (JD ’76)
Robert Maes (JD ’73)
Roman Maes III (JD ’71)
Vivian Martínez (JD ’69)
Joe Montaño (JD ’53)
José Mora (JD ’73)
Arthur Nieto (JD ’75)
Julian Padilla (JD ’71)
Kenneth Padilla (JD ’70)
Alfredo Peña (JD ’75)
Mike Pina (JD ’74)
Rene Ramirez (JD ’77)
Jennifer Rivera (JD ’83)
Flora Rodriguez Russell (JD ’80)
Patricio Serna (JD ’70)
Ralph Torres (JD ’70, Chair)
Richard Trevino (JD ’75)

 Past Successes Meeting Future Challenges

Dean Yegge’s commitment to the Hispanic community has had a positive impact on Colorado’s legal profession. More than 640 Latino men and women have graduated from Denver Law in the forty-five years since Dean Yegge started the program. In the last ten years, more than thirty Hispanic law students have received financial assistance from the Yegge Scholarship.

Notwithstanding the many favorable outcomes of the scholarship, there still is work to be done. Although the number of Hispanic students at Denver Law has increased, Hispanics constitute only 4.5% of the 14,330 living Denver Law alumni. Only 3% of all lawyers in the United States are Hispanic, and female Hispanic lawyers make up only 1.3% of all lawyers in the United States. Hispanics are the fastest growing population in Colorado and the country, and the need for Latino lawyers continues to rise.

A Collegial Gathering With a Purpose

The Latino Alumni Committee was established in 2010 to raise funds for the Yegge Scholarship Fund. Committee members conceived of hosting the first reunion of Denver Law Latino Alumni as a way to raise funds, as well as to acknowledge and meld the past, present, and future presence of Latino students at Denver Law. With the help of Denver Law’s Alumni Office, approximately twenty alumni and students planned and organized the event. A photo of this year’s Committee members with twelve of the founding members appears below. The Committee members are listed in the accompanying sidebar.

The reunion kicked off on Friday evening with a cocktail reception. On Saturday, there was a full-day CLE program that included presentations by judges and attorneys, including Chief Justice Michael Bender and Justice Monica Márquez of the Colorado Supreme Court, along with former Chief Justice Patricio Serna of the New Mexico Supreme Court. A dinner on Saturday evening, followed by dancing, was the capstone of the event.

The fundraiser was a huge success. Nearly $100,000 was raised for the Yegge Scholarship Fund. Half of this amount comprised donations from sponsors and alumni who attended the event; the University of Denver generously donated the other half. The Latino Alumni Committee extends a huge thank-you to Denver Law for its donation to the Yegge Scholarship Fund, and is extremely grateful for the support and assistance it received from the staff of the Alumni Office.

A Gathering of the Past, Present,
and Future of Our Profession

The event brought together old friends and former classmates. As an alumna of Denver Law and the daughter of one of the founding members of the Yegge Scholarship Fund, I was honored to be part of this event and to have the opportunity to meet my predecessors who were among the first attorneys to participate in Dean Yegge’s program.

Times certainly were different when the program started; it was eye-opening and inspiring to hear stories from the more experienced attorneys about barriers that existed for them early on, as well as to hear about the numerous accomplishments they have gone on to achieve. An enormous sense of collective respect and pride resonated among all of the alumni who attended the event—toward Denver Law, Dean Yegge, and one another. The newest crop of law students represents the future of the legal profession. If the tremendous support they received from the alumni who attended this event is any indication of things to come, they truly stand to soar!


2012 Latino Alumni Committee

Dolores Atencio (JD ’80)
Baltazar Baca (JD ’72)
Tomee Crespin (JD ’00)
Mark Fidel (JD ’02)
Marixa Frias (JD ’06)
Amanda Gonzales (JD ’11)
Aurora Ruiz Hernández (JD ’76)
Arnulfo Hernández (JD ’05, LLM ’07)
Diego Hunt (JD ’97)
Liz Espinosa Krupa (JD ’94)
Cynthia Mares (JD ’89)
Michelle Martínez (JD ’05)
Lucia Padilla (JD ’03)
Alfredo Peña (JD ’75)
Celeste Quiñones (JD ’83)
Clara Romero Madrid (JD ’93)
Ralph Torres (JD ’70)
Angelica Tovar-Hastings (JD ’10, LLM ’11)

Law Students

Marc Bivens
Gaby Corica
Quinn Girrens
Alexis Kirkman
Erik Lacayo
Dion Martínez
Ashley Muñoz
James Snyder

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