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A Message From Departing DHBA President Javier Perez

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 2:27 PM | Matthew Phillips

Hasta Pronto – See You Soon!

Many of you have heard me refer to DHBA as a family.  Like so many, I am the first lawyer in mine and many of you have stepped in to fill out that family tree.  I remember in one of my first depositions, a former DHBA president sat across the table from me; I felt moved to be one of those who got to sit in one of these hard-fought roles - an advocate.  When the lawyer went out of his way to pronounce my name correctly on the record, it was an affirmation that my presence there was legitimate and that I was worthy to be there.  Thinking it was merely incidental, I shared this with him years later and he confirmed that was in fact his intent.  Thank you, Rudy.

Another called me when he saw me show up on a case and told me he felt proud to see me on a panel for a State Bar CLE – to, in his words, “show these folks how to practice law.”  And in true big brother fashion, he then went on to tell me why my case was doomed.  I’ll spare your name, but I want you to know it meant a lot to be seen and validated.   

One hermano we lost this year hit particularly me hard: Chris Montez.  For those of us that knew him, Chris’s big laugh and even bigger heart were unforgettable.  When I received the Estrella award, I invited Chris to sit at my table.  He had been a mentor to me since he introduced himself at a CLE, saying he recognized me from a law school newsletter.  He was generous with his time and advice; even when we had a case opposite each other, he was respectful and somehow still encouraging.  It meant everything to me, and he will be missed.

I am so grateful to our membership, and in particular, our past presidents and those who have served on our Board of Directors.  It is truly a labor of love for our community, and you deserve our gratitude for the sacrifices you and your family have made to support this work.  We have a responsibility to lead and to serve and it has been an absolutely privilege to carry your mantle forward.

To our 2021 Board, I know we went through it this last year.  Our monthly Zooms started to feel like family meetings around the kitchen table, just without the comidita.  But to Isaac, Elsa, Carla, Claudia, Jake, Eddie, Fabiola, and Berenice – I want to thank each of you for showing up when the world was burning around us, willing to work together to find a way to make a difference.

And to our community, like siblings, or tias, or whatever role you’re assuming at the time – you have always shown up when we needed you.  We have been blessed to see so many of you step up when we needed your time or expertise, and yes, even your money.  Por todo su apoyo, we are so grateful.

Speaking of apoyo, we know that family is uniquely positioned to bring out our best.  And I want to thank my own family who never faltered in believing in me and pushing me to “keep going.”  And with complete certainty, I can absolutely promise you that none of what I’ve been able to do would be possible without my wife, Caelie.  Those of you that know her understand why; those of you that don’t, you should Mi vida, thank you for everything.

It has been a unique honor to lead this organization, for just two terms, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.  I look forward to the ways in which it will continue to grow in the more than capable hands who will guide it.  Thank you.

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