Last week, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) announced strategic partnerships with leading global technology companies to its Intellectual Property Law Institute (IPLI). Bryan Browning, who serves on the advisory board of the Next Gen Leadership: Advancing Lawyers of Color initiative and is Vice President of Programming for the HNBA, shared the announcement with the Legal Executive Institute.
HNBA President and Executive Director of IP and Commercial Litigation at Lenovo, Jennifer Salinas, highlighted the expansion as especially important to her. “As one of the founding members of the HNBA IPLI program and a Latina IP attorney that has been practicing for more than 20 years in the space, I am beyond thrilled to see our program expand,” Salinas says. “There is a dearth of Latinos in the IP field, so there is a significant need for our program.”
According to the press release, “the IPLI emerged as a much-needed response to the systemic problem of severe under-representation of minorities in intellectual property and technology law.” With only about 2% of the Hispanic legal population practicing in IP and technology law, the expansion of sponsors — including corporate sponsors such as Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Lenovo — is significant. Since IPLI’s launch in 2013 in partnership with Microsoft, the program has graduated more than 150 scholars.
According to Browning, the HNBA’s expansion of the IPLI to include more corporate legal departments enables the “pipeline initiative to move the needle on the lack of Latinx attorneys practicing intellectual property law and is a momentous event that will literally change the face of law.”
In addition to the IPLI, the HNBA also sponsors other pipeline initiatives such as PODER25, which seeks to increase the number of Hispanic General Counsel within Fortune 500 companies to 20 by 2025. Indeed, representation of Latinix in the law remains a challenge. “Hispanics account for 18% of the U.S. population, yet, according to MCCA’s 2017 General Counsel Diversity survey, only 1.8% of Fortune 500 General Counsel are Hispanic — nine total: four women and five men,” according to the HNBA PODER25 web site.
Aside from Native American representation among Fortune 500 General Counsel, Hispanics are the most demographically underrepresented group, based on gross numbers, and they are the most demographically underrepresented group as compared to U.S. population size, according to the website.
There is no doubt that this is a huge win for the Latinix representation in the law and will positively impact the pipeline of future Latinix lawyers specializing in IP and technology law practice areas. “The expansion of the IPLI program will enable the HNBA and its partners to make an even greater difference in the legal community by introducing more Latinx law students to both the IP practice area and to the leading companies, firms, and practitioners that operate in that space,” explains Browning. “The sheer number of networking and career advancement opportunities are incredible and will increase the pipeline to this fast-growing practice area!”