For the first time, the State Bar of California will have a Hispanic president.
Luis Rodriguez, the son of Mexican immigrants, ran unopposed for resident, according to the association’s website. Rodriguez, who is a public defender, is 46 and lives in Los Angeles.
Rodriguez has indicated that fighting immigration fraud by attorneys will be one of his priorities for the association.
The bar regulates more than 237,000 attorneys.
"I'm the first Latino and that's something to celebrate, especially in the state of California, but at the same time, it's a stark reminder of how long it takes for certain groups to move up and become part of the leadership of the community," Rodriguez is quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Daily News. "It's an opportunity to show everybody that given the opportunity, we can provide and give as much as anyone else for the betterment of our community."
Rodriguez told the newspaper that he still remembers how police officers mocked his father’s broken English when they visited the United States. He also recalled how he and his friends were being singled out by authorities for car searches because they were Latinos.
Though he was born in Los Angeles, he and his family lived in Mexico for about a decade before moving back to California when he was in elementary school.
"It was an interesting childhood; I was neither from there nor here," said Rodriguez, who was the first in his family to attend college. "The beauty of it was that I was really able to experience two different cultures, two different societies, the good and the bad of course."
He graduated with honors from Santa Clara University, where he got his law degree.
A part-time job as a law clerk at the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office provided an epiphany.
"It was like love at first sight," Rodriguez said. "I was getting paid to do something I believed in, which not too many people get to do."