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The History of MABA

The formation of the Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County (“MABA”) was first conceived in 1956 by a young, newly-barred attorney named Manuel Martinez. He believed that although the number of Mexican American attorneys was small, they needed a support group based on a shared culture and history.

In 1959, Martinez teamed with another newly admitted attorney, Antonio Bueno, to contact attorneys with Spanish surnames in the hope of forming a group of Mexican American lawyers. By 1960, a small group of attorneys, including Frank Mufioz, “Battling Bob” Baca, and Leopoldo Sanchez, Martinez, and Buenro began holding formal, regular meetings at the Farolito Restaurant in Los Angeles. By 1961, membership grew as the largest group of Mexican Americans to pass the Bar was sworn-in. They included Arthur Baldonado, Rudy Rivas, Adolfo Bustos, Carlos Borja, Joe Villareal, and Manuel Hidalgo. This group constituted the original members of the Mexican American Lawyers Club.

The Mexican American Lawyers Club quickly gained additional members, including some of the State’s first female Mexican attorneys, Anita Castellanos and Mary Virginia Orozco. Although the Club held many social events, the group’s primary focus was to see a Mexican American appointed or elected to the bench. The name of the organization was soon changed to the Mexican American Bar Association.

Through the years, MABA has encouraged Latinos of all backgrounds to join its membership. MABA continues to support its original mission of empowering the Latino community by supporting Latino/a lawyers, law students, and bench officers through philanthropic, educational, and civic endeavors.

1962 MABA Officers

MABA Today

Prime examples of MABA’s current outreach efforts include its Judicial Externship Scholarship Program; High School Scholarship Program; its Law Student Mentorship Program; and MABA’s Vice-Chair program at each local law school. This program, now in its third year, seeks to provide leadership experience to Latino/a law students at Southern California law schools, as well as foster a closer connection between Latino/a law students and the general MABA membership.

MABA continues to provide free legal consultations to the broader Latino community in Los Angeles County. MABA traditionally hosted an annual Feria Legal in partnership with St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Los Angeles’ Pico-Union District, and, for approximately three years, had also worked with local labor unions and non-profit partners to provide much needed legal advice to immigrant workers. In 2020, MABA pivoted and hosted a virtual legal fair in collaboration with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. MABA also endorses political and judicial applicants, as well as provides continuing education seminars by hosting MCLE events in late-January and a Supreme Court in Year Review panel to highlight cases of importance to Latino/as.

MABA Past Presidents

1963 Manuel S. Martinez*

1964 Herman Sillas, Jr.

1965 Hon. Raymond Cardenas

1966 Martin “Marty” Castillo*

1967 Manuel V alenzuela*

1968 Manuel M. Aranda, Jr.

1969 Lorenzo A. Pereyda, Jr.*

1970 Oscar A. Mungia*

1971 Hon. Victor E. Chavez

1972 Ernest E. Gallego

1973 Hon. Joseph L. Armijo, Jr.*

1974 Stanley S. Delnick*

1975 Frank E. Muñoz*

1976 Lawrence C. De Fuentes, Jr.*

1977 Hon. Benjamin Aranda*

1978 Hon. John L. Martinez

1979 Daniel P . Garcia

1980 Oscar C. Parra

1981 Esther L. V aladez

1982 Hon. Carlos R. Moreno (Ret.)

1983 Hon. James E. Blancarte

1984 Jaime M. Cervantes*

1985 Carlos Zaragoza

1986 Hon. Armando Duron

1987 Gustavo A. Barcena

1988 Monica M. Jimenez

1989 Debra L. Gonzales

1990 Marcia J. Gonzales-Kimbrough

1991 Raul Ayala

1992 Raul R. Granados

1993 Martha E. Romero

1994 Martha L. Melendez

1995 Enrique Arevalo

1996 Yvonne Magdalena Flores

1997 Maria D. Villa

1998 M. Leslie Stearns

1999 Arnoldo Casillas

2000 Hon. James E. Blancarte

2001 Luiz J. Rodriguez

2002 Cristina Perez Gonzalez

2003 Maribel S. Medina

2004 Edward R. Ortega

2005 Alan R. Diamante

2006 Claire Cifuentes

2007 Hon. Efrain M. Aceves

2008 Hon. Pete R. Navarro

2009 Mario L. Trujillo

2010 Judy Perez

2011 Commissioner Victor M. Acevedo

2012 Rigoberto J. Arrechiga *

2013 Elizabeth P . Uribe

2014 Erick L. Solares

2015 Cindy Pànuco

2016 Maria E. Ramirez

2017 Alejandro G. Becerra

2018 Denisse O. Gastèlum

2019 Oscar R. Gutierrez

2020 Marisa Hernandez-Stern

2021 Monica Guizar

2022 Heriberto Veliz

2023 Magdalena Casas


 Mexican American Bar Association

    1150 South Olive Street, Suite 600

    Los Angeles, CA 90015

  (213) 749-2889 

 Mon - Fri (9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. PST)

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