Each year, the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania Legal Education Fund (HBALEF) awards local Latinx students scholarships to support their legal educations. Among this year’s scholarship recipients were the two Co-Presidents of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Latinx Law Student Association (LALSA), Chiara Padilla L’24 and Michael Asparrin L’24.
The HBALEF is a non-profit organization dedicated to the professional and educational advancement of Latinos in the legal profession and awards scholarships each year to qualified law students in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. According to their mission statement, the HBALEF hopes these funds will not only promote the success of Latino law students but also attract more Latino lawyers to practice in Pennsylvania.
Toll Public Interest Ambassador and has engaged in pro bono work with the Youth Advocacy Project. As a law student and a lawyer, Padilla’s ambition is to restructure current legal systems to allow for greater gender and racial equity. Post-graduation, Padilla aims to advocate for reproductive rights and justice in a holistic legal advocacy setting that centers community leadership.Padilla is one of eight law students in this year’s class of HBALEF’s Legal Education Fund Scholarship recipients. In addition to serving as a LALSA Co-President, Padilla is also a
Asparrin received the Judge Nelson Diaz Scholarship, which was made possible by a collaboration between HBALEF, AL DÍA, and several local Philadelphia non-profits and law firms. The award honors Diaz, who became the first Latino lawyer in Philadelphia when he passed the bar in 1972. He would go on to become Pennsylvania’s first Latino judge, Philadelphia’s first Latino City Solicitor, and the Exelon Corporation’s first Latino Board Member.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania Legal Education Fund and AL DÍA for their generous support through the Judge Nelson Díaz Scholarship,” Asparrin said. “In a field that has historically been inaccessible for many Latinx students, the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania Legal Education Fund works to bring more Latinx students to the law by facilitating their legal education. Judge Díaz has committed himself to the Latinx community by championing civil rights, fair housing, and bilingual education, and it is my hope that I can emulate his dedication to the Latinx community in my own career.”
In addition to working alongside Padilla as the other Co-President of LALSA, Asparrin is also a Toll Public Interest Scholar and Co-Director of the Penn Law Immigrant Rights Project. He spent his 1L summer working with the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund on issues concerning Latinx civil rights. Post-graduation, Asparrin plans to pursue a career expanding meaningful access to justice for low-income and immigrant communities.