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'Perfection in Every Document': Big Law's Latinx Leaders on What It Took to Reach the Top

Fri, October 15, 2021 10:23 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

Written by: Dan Packel

Hunton Andrews Kurth managing partner Wally Martinez wasn’t the only leader of an Am Law 100 firm of Hispanic origin when he took the reins at predecessor firm Hunton & Williams in 2006. At that point in time, Cesar Alvarez was serving as CEO at Greenberg Traurig.

But after Alvarez stepped down in 2010, Martinez’s personal success stood out among a broader failing in the legal industry. Hispanics comprised 16% of the U.S. population in that year’s census, but only 1% of the top roles in the Am Law 100. The ranks of Latinx law firm leaders have ticked upward over the past two years. In 2020, Hogan Lovells installed Miguel Zaldivar as its CEO, and earlier this year Sidley Austin announced that partner Yvette Ostolaza will step in as the chair of the firm’s nine-person management committee in 2022.

The three leaders, who all share roots in Cuba, took the time to share their stories with The American Lawyer for Hispanic Heritage Month, which comes to an end Friday. They also addressed how Big Law can better provide leadership opportunities for diverse individuals.

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