Dean Anthony Varona to lead national task force on Hispanic representation

April 24, 2023
Dean Tony Varona
Dean Anthony E. Varona

Hispanic National Bar Association president visits Seattle U Law this week

Dean Anthony E. Varona will lead a national effort to increase Hispanic representation among law school faculty and administrators as co-chair of a new task force launched by the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA).

HNBA President Mariana Bravo announced the formation of the National Task Force on Hispanic Law Faculty and Deans on Monday and will elaborate on the task force’s mission at a reception hosted by Seattle University School of Law on Tuesday, April 25. HNBA President-Elect Daniel Mateo will also attend the reception and present his vision for the group’s future.

Varona will lead the task force along with Raquel M. Matas, former associate dean for administration at the University of Miami School of Law. Professor Steven Bender, Seattle U Law’s associate dean for planning and strategic initiatives, is also a member of the task force. 

Other members include Dean Jenny Martinez of Stanford Law School, Dean Kevin R. Johnson of University of California Davis School of Law, and Professor Emerita Margaret Montoya of University of New Mexico, the first-ever Latina accepted to Harvard Law School.

“I applaud HNBA President Mariana Bravo for her vision in establishing this new and much-needed national task force, and I am deeply honored to be serving with such illustrious colleagues — all leaders, luminaries, and trailblazers in legal education and law,” Varona said.

“We must do much more to address the severe underrepresentation of Hispanics and Latinos/as among law professors and administrators. This task force will help the legal academy and the legal system itself better reflect and respect the communities they serve.”

Varona is the first Hispanic/Latinx law dean of any law school in the Pacific Northwest and was the first Hispanic/Latinx dean at University of Miami School of Law, where he served prior to his deanship in Seattle.

Bravo said an increase in Hispanic law professors and law deans will increase enrollment among Hispanic and Latinx law students. “The work of this task force is long overdue, and I am delighted that former Associate Dean Matas and Dean Varona, with many decades of distinguished nationally recognized service in legal education between them, will lead us in this important work,” she said.

According to the most recent ABA Profile of the Legal Profession, only 5.8% of lawyers in the U.S. are Hispanic, even though Hispanics constitute over 19% of the general population. The shortage of Hispanic lawyers across the nation mirrors the paucity of Hispanics in legal academia. Only 9 of the almost 200 deans of ABA-accredited law schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia are Hispanic. Estimates have the percentage of full-time Hispanic law professors at only 5%. 

The task force will oversee the development of various online and in-person workshops for prospective and existing Hispanic/Latinx law faculty and law school deanship aspirants, including support with mentorship, professional development, and networking.

Seattle U Law has long participated in similar efforts, co-hosting an annual Promoting Diversity in Law School Leadership workshop with Villanova’s Charles Widger School of Law since 2007.

HNBA is an incorporated, not-for-profit, national membership organization that represents the interests of more than 67,000 Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, law students, and legal professionals in the United States and its territories. 

Share this