Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair: Natalie Alfaro Gonzales
Baker Botts

910 Louisiana Street

Houston, Texas 77002-4995

United States

P:+1.713.229.1318

natalie.gonzales@bakerbotts.com


March 23, 2021

HIPLA's Response to Asian Hate

In recent months, we have seen a disturbing nationwide trend in racially motivated acts of discrimination and violence against Asian Americans. This anti-Asian sentiment and reported incidents of harassment and violence have been on an upward trend throughout the pandemic.  To familiarize yourself with the issues, please read this report issued by the Asian American Bar Association of NY and Paul Weiss, and endorsed by the ABA: here. 

These actions contradict our common values as a community and run contrary to our Texas Lawyers’ creed, under which we: “owe each other respect, diligence, candor, punctuality, and protection against unjust and improper criticism and attack.”  Discrimination in any form, against any person, is wrong and always will be.  Hatred and violence have no place in our schools or society. In this moment, HIPLA stands in solidarity with our Asian Pacific American community as we grieve together and work together towards change.

HIPLA condemns all forms of racially-motivated aggression.  Today, we join the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and a host of national bar associations in denouncing the anti-Asian hate, violence, and racism related to the coronavirus by signing the Stand Against Hate shared pledge.  Last year, we reaffirmed our commitment to combating racism by forming a special committee and launching several initiatives for diversity and equity.  We will ensure that the Asian Pacific American community is included in our efforts and foster a sense of belonging within our membership.

This moment is an opportunity for us to redouble our commitment to being a diverse, inclusive, just, and equitable professional organization. It is also a call to support all members of our community, regardless of their background, and to take care of one another in the face of difficult times.  Thank you for your unwavering commitment to continuous improvement and positive change in our community and in our profession. 

Respectfully,
Jason Sander
HIPLA President

February 23, 2021

All lawyers are stewards of the legal system, and all lawyers must take responsibility for the system’s short comings that erect barriers and mistreat others. To establish justice in America we must work to ensure that our profession looks like the America we serve. To move forward, we need the perspective and involvement of all. HIPLA will always be expanding its commitment to justice, equality and diversity. In furtherance of this commitment, HIPLA formed the “Excellence in Diversity Award”. HIPLA is proud to have presented its 2021 “Excellence in Diversity Award” winners at our annual event honoring the Federal Judiciary:

  • Dwayne L. Mason of Greenberg Traurig and
  • The University of Houston Law Center IPIL Program.

Mr. Mason is a bedrock of our Houston IP community. He began his legal career at the University of Houston from which he received his JD in 1993. Following graduation, Dwayne actively participated in local and state bar events and other professional organizations, always promoting diversity, always prompting inclusion and always building bridges of professionalism and friendship between all he encountered. As examples, Dwayne is:

  • On the Board of Trustees for the Foundation for Advancement of Diversity in IP Law
  • A Founding Member of the Houston Minority Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Listed in The National Black Lawyers Top 100 list
  • A member of the Nancy F. Atlas IP Inn of Court’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion 
  • A member of the HIPLA’s Committee for Diversity, Inclusion and Empowerment
  • Past chair of the HIPLA/UH IPIL 2020 Fall Institute, where he both promoted a diverse panel of speakers and established and led the first annual fall institute diversity fundraiser
  • A leader in establishing and presenting many programs on topics relating to diversity and inclusion at the University of Houston, the Thurgood Marshall and elsewhere
  • A personal mentor and advisory to countless students and attorneys in the spirt of developing and cultivating a pipeline of diverse participants and allies in our IP community.

Please join HIPLA in congratulating Dwayne.

The UH law Center has been a national leader in diversity of student body, promotion of IP legal studies and produced many diverse and minority leaders in the IP bar (including Mr. Mason). The IPIL program continues that tradition in its steadfast focus on equity and inclusion. The diverse student body is no accident. It is the result of the tireless work of Dean Baynes and Associate Dean Vetter who relentlessly seek out and encourage diverse prospective students to join our practice area. Having a diverse student body, and a focus on ensuring diversity in speakers, is a heavy factor in the program’s top-five overall ranking among US law schools.

Please join HIPLA in congratulating the University of Houston’s IPIL program.

HIPLA would also acknowledge its appreciation for the leadership of the HPLA diversity committee, including our committee Chair: Natalie Alfaro Gonzalez of Baker Botts. As we celebrate our successes we must act urgently in continuing our work to make the legal profession diverse and inclusive for all. Thank you everyone for your commitment and support.

Dear HIPLA members,

In June of 2020 and in the wake of George Floyd’s death, an international conversation around race, equality and power was sparked. HIPLA heard the call to action. That month we formed a special committee to review HIPLA’s commitment to the empowerment of minority members. Since then the committee has been meeting monthly. I wanted to briefly update you on its following activities:

  • The HIPLA diversity award program is underway. We received several impressive nominations. We are excited to announce the winners on February 23rd at 11:30am. Immediately following we will hear a presentation by the Director of Texas Medical Center | Innovation. To register for the event please visit www.hipla.org.
  • We raised money for diversity and inclusion initiatives during our successful 2020 Fall Institute. This year 100% of the proceeds will be donated toward the University of Houston’s Pre-Law Pipeline program.
  • Fundraising efforts are ongoing. We welcome donations, sponsorships and contributions towards the continued success of our diversity and inclusion program. Please contact me or Bert Jennings, Bert.Jennings@lyb.com, should you wish to make a donation or have your firm/company become a listed sponsor on our dedicated webpage.
  • We started a “conversations with diverse members” podcast. Please listen to Palak Shah interview our first guest, Dwayne Mason, here. And if you would like to be featured in our next podcast, kindly reach out to Palak at PSHAH@shb.com.

While we have taken strong steps over the past few months, our work is not done. For example, the committee would like to create a HIPLA summer clinic. Open to all, the clinic will be designed to give summer-associate-style-work experience to those law students unable to find a summer associateship. If you are interested in volunteering to work on designing and implementing the 2021 or 2022 HIPLA Summer Clinic, please email me.

The HIPLA diversity committee will continue to meet monthly: the conversation must continue and there is plenty of road ahead. If you are interested in serving on the committee, or attending any of the meetings, please contact me.

Jason Sander
HIPLA President

June 11, 2020

Dear HIPLA Members,

As I reflect on the recent events, I’ve reviewed my own experience in HIPLA and the IP community.  I’m proud that diversity and inclusion has long-been a part of HIPLA’s culture.  It is ingrained in our bylaws and actions.  We pride ourselves on the promotion and empowerment of all members, and celebrate an engaged-talented-diverse-and-committed group of officers, directors, committee heads, and past presidents.  Yet, the events that led to this moment in time give us pause.  George Floyd’s life was unjustly taken.  His death sparked an international conversation around race, equality, and power.  As President of HIPLA, I speak for the organization in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement.  More broadly, I reiterate that HIPLA stands in solidarity with all of our members in the ongoing battles for equality, freedom and justice.  As Texas Lawyers we remember our creed, under which we “owe each other respect, diligence, candor, punctuality, and protection against unjust and improper criticism and attack.”  And we rededicate ourselves to the commitment that our membership is inclusive and empowering to all.

Although HIPLA has done so much and come so far: it must do more.  To this end, I will be appointing a special committee to review HIPLA’s commitment to the empowerment of minority members.  Please email me by Monday, June 22, 2020 if you would like to be included on the special committee.

In the meantime, HIPLA will take the following actions:

  1. Implement a HIPLA diversity award program that highlights the importance of diversity in our profession (application is available to download here);
  2. Host a fundraiser with 100% of the proceeds going toward diversity and inclusion initiatives, likely during the Fall Institute diversity breakfast; and
  3. Create a diversity, inclusion and empowerment page on our website.

Thank you all for your support as we seek continuous improvement and positive change in our community and in our profession.

Respectfully,

Jason Sander
HIPLA President

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software