Pictured: LLSA students from Maryland Carey Law and UB Law in San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Latinx Law Students Association (LLSA) at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law stepped up its activities during the 2022-2023 academic year, offering exciting new opportunities for students in service, travel, and advocacy.
Notably, the group took its first service trip to Puerto Rico and sent its first teams to compete in the National Latina/o Law Student Association Moot Court Competition.
Much of the innovation, explained LLSA’s 2022-2023 President Mercedes Subhani ’24 was fueled by a desire to pay tribute to José Bahamonde-González who, as the group’s advisor, had big plans in the works before he passed away last spring.
“This year was meant both to spearhead new initiatives and to honor Dean José,” said Subhani. “He had everything planned out for Puerto Rico—funding, partnering organizations. We wanted to honor him by making the trip happen."
With the help of Gabriela Kahrl, associate director of Maryland Carey Law’s Chacón Center for Immigrant Justice, and Bahamonde-González’s successor as the group’s advisor, they did just that.
LLSA partnered with its sister organization at the University of Baltimore School of Law and traveled together to San Juan during spring break. It was a packed visit. They met with judges, government officials, local politicians, community organizers, and local law students.
“We got to pick brains and get different perspectives and see how similar and unique their legal system was to ours,” said Subhani. One day was also dedicated to community service as the group joined a local disaster relief organization in a house painting project.
The Puerto Rico trip came directly on the heels of LLSA’s first ever showing at the National Latina/o Law Student Association Moot Court Competition hosted by the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. LLSA entered two teams of pairs: Subhani and Rafael Moreno ’24, and Leo Gomez Ballesteros ’24 and Diana Marcela Morales ’24. Subhani and Moreno placed fourth in the competition and had the second overall highest score in the first round. The teams were coached by Erick Marquina '21, a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Michele D. Hotten, Supreme Court of Maryland. At Maryland Carey Law, Marquina was vice president of the Latinx Law Students Association and editor-in-chief of the Maryland Journal of International Law.
José Bahamonde-González's memory was front and center at LLSA’s annual IMPACTO Award ceremony in the fall. The award honoring a Latinx lawyer was renamed for Bahamonde-González, and two recipients were recognized: Katrin Hussmann Schroll '09 and Wandaly Fernández Garcia '14. Schroll and Garcia were both deeply connected with Bahamonde-González and, according to Subhani, were helpful resources when the LLSA executive board was planning the Puerto Rico trip.
At the ceremony, LLSA also announced the first recipient, Alexsandra Tamayo ’25, of a scholarship established to honor the memory of Bahamonde-González.
“Dean José was a powerhouse, not only in the legal community but in amplifying the voices of Latinx students,” said Subhani. "He was the reason so many of us got the chances we got."
With a membership totaling 60-plus and strong leadership, the Latinx Law Students Association is stronger than ever and poised to continue building the kind of welcoming community to which Bahamonde-González dedicated his career.
Dean José would be proud.
For more details on LLSA’s recent activities, visit the group’s 2022-2023 yearbook.