The USC Gould School of Law honored Luis Rodriguez, the newly elected president of the State Bar of California, during a special reception at Town & Gown on Oct. 2.
Rodriguez, the first public defender and first Latino to hold the office, was sworn in as the 89th president of the 243,000-member organization at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting in San Jose, Calif.
The reception was sponsored by Los Angeles law firms Gibson Dunn, O’Melveny & Myers, Phillips Law Partners, Sidley Austin and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. It featured remarks by LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey JD ’82, USC Gould Dean Robert K. Rasmussen and Martha Escutia, vice president of USC Government Relations. Rodriguez, a public defender with LA County, also spoke at the event.
With USC Gould’s history of diversity – including 31 Latino students in the current first-year class — Rasmussen said it was an honor to commemorate Rodriguez’s election to president of the Bar.
“We are thrilled to celebrate Luis Rodriguez’s historical achievement,” Rasmussen said. “He is deeply committed to promoting justice and work on behalf of lawyers practicing in California.”
The son of Mexican immigrant parents, Rodriguez was born in LA and moved with his family to Ciudad Juarez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua when he was 3 years old. A decade later, his family moved back to LA, where Rodriguez attended public schools.
The first in his family to go to college, Rodriguez graduated with honors from Santa Clara University. He received his law degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. He has been an attorney with the LA County Public Defender’s Office since 1994.
“Because of the obstacles that I faced and the support that I received from many, I have committed myself to being the voice for those who have no voice,” Rodriguez said.
He said that as president he will work to ensure that California courts are adequately funded and to protect the public against immigration fraud by attorneys.
In previous leadership roles, Rodriguez served as president of the Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County, president of the California La Raza Lawyers Association, president of the Latino Public Defenders Association, member of the California State Board of Education and chairman of the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness.