All photography provided by Stephanie Robayo
For the past five years, we have unified Latina/o law students in the NY-NJ metropolitan area to educate our communities, to establish a professional network, and to make a meaningful -- and positive -- impact in the legal profession.
In 2010, 12 Latina/o law students, from nine schools law schools in the New York – New Jersey metropolitan area, met each other at a national conference. Throughout the conference, these students shared an issue that existed in each of their schools: the lack of presence of Latina/o law students. With such lack of presence in their respective schools, they recognized their “voice” were inaudible. However, they also recognized, because of the high concentration of law schools in the New York – New Jersey metropolitan area, they have an opportunity to connect with each other for support and, equally important, work together to build a loud and unifying “voice.” Based on these reasons, and more, the group met with each other after the conference to form an organization that will later be called MetroLALSA.
MetroLALSA serves as a regional organization for the Latin American Law Student Association members throughout the thirteen law schools in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area. Our organization is wholly coordinated and organized by law students and delegates (i.e., representatives) from the thirteen law schools in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area. These law schools are: Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Brooklyn Law School, Columbia Law School, City University of New York School of Law, Fordham University School of Law, The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, New York Law School, New York University School of Law, Pace University Law School, Rutgers School of Law- Newark, Seton Hall University School of Law, St. John’s University School of Law, and Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.
Since our inception, we have participated in voter registration drives, Dream Act rallies, immigration reform demonstrations, and we have collaborated with Street Law: Know Your Rights presentations with local organizations like LatinoJustice PRLDEF. We have instituted mentorship programs for current and prospective law students, and contributed to other academic and social justice initiatives. As our efforts are solely charitable and supportive, MetroLALSA has a pending application for recognition under 501(c)(3) exemption status as a not-for-profit organization. We expect a response from the Internal Revenue Service as early as February 2016.
To empower our communities, to increase diversity in the legal profession, and to develop Latina/o leaders.
Typically, at the end of every MetroLALSA meeting, the group performs the Unity Clap. The Unity Clap has been used by different movements throughout the world. It has been used to unite people of different backgrounds and even different languages to one cause. It starts with one clap which represents the struggle of that one individual then other claps join in representing those individuals struggle. At first, the clapping is disunited, but quickly, the sounds synchronize to one, constant rhythm.
As the rhythm moment continues, the claps become a battle drum, rallying every person’s struggles to the movement as more and more people join the clap. Every new clap heightens the intensity of the moment, feeling as if the sounds are strengthening each other’s resolve.
After unifying everyone claps – everyone’s struggles -- there is a brief pause: complete silence. Then, before all those present, everyone joins in for one thunderous clap, representing the breakthrough that, despite one’s language, struggle, or backgrounds, we are united to achieve a given cause.
History of the Unity Clap is credited to Adam Tavares, MetroLALSA alum (Second OG Class)
What We've Achieved
Hosted 7 successful conferences that gathered hundreds of attendees, from pre-law students to local community organizations.
Recognized as the 2014 Student Organization of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Hispanic Heritage Award by District Attorney Brown of the Queens District Attorney's Office and received the Unity Award from Brooklyn Law School's LALSA in 2017.
A central focus of MetroLALSA is transparency. In an effort to achieve that goal, MetroLALSA strives to ensure it gives the public access to documents and the decisions made for the Organization.
Without you and your input, MetroLALSA will lack a purpose. MetroLALSA exists today to serve the Latina/o law students in the New York-New Jersey area, to serve the Latina/o communities, and to serve other people of color. In order to serve you all, we must ensure you are aware and included in our decisions. Transparency provides you the ability to be more involved in what we are or will be doing.
Sponsored, in full or in part, over 30 students in the past 2 years to national conferences, such as conferences held by NLLSA, HNBA, ProudToBeLatina, and many others.
Recognized as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit.
Actively participated in community services, such as food drives and Priority Dockets.