Puerto Rican Bar Association honors women in the law with Flor De Maga Awards
The Puerto Rican Bar Association continued its annual tradition last Thursday when it honored six women, including the president of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, with Flor De Maga Awards during a ceremony in Manhattan.
The six honorees included Angelicque Moreno, president of the NYS Academy of Trial Lawyers; Justice Llinet Rosado, Supreme Court, Bronx County; attorneys Maria Perez-Brown and Christina Seda-Acosta; and Barbie Melendez and Irma Pena.
“This is an opportunity for us to honor women,” said PRBA President Stephanie Correa. “It would be wonderful if we can move from a period of time where we are hearing that this is the first woman to do this or the first woman to do that. What’s incredible is that on the dais here we have women who have helped shatter glass ceilings and have contributed to pay equality in their respective areas in the law just by what they do.”
The event was held at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP in Manhattan where Past President Carmen Pacheco, chair of the PRBA Women’s Committee, served as the master of ceremonies.
“Flor De Maga celebrates women who impact our community,” Pacheco said. “Like the maga tree, our honorees are strong, durable, well-balanced and beautiful. This year’s award is presented to women that exhibit leadership skills in their field of expertise, have been a role model and mentor to other women and girls, and advocates for social and cultural change that creates a more equitable society through advocacy, creativity and social economic development.”
Moreno, who grew up in the projects in the Bronx, was introduced by Justice Lizette Colon. The judge commented that it brings her a lot of pride as a Puerto Rican to see Moreno stand out as a trial attorney in a highly competitive field.
“I appreciate it and I cherish your appearance on behalf of all of us Latinas,” Justice Colon said. “She is a magnificent and outstanding bar leader. Angelicque is the president of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, the vice president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, director of the New York State Bar Association’s Trial Section, director of the New York City Trial Lawyers Association, a member of the Grievance Committee for the 2nd, 11th and 13th judicial districts, as well as the founding director of Esquire Bank. It’s incredible.”
Moreno shared her story about growing up poor in the Bronx, with her large family living in one small apartment. She explained that one of her cousins grew up with challenging disabilities and developmental delays due to medical malpractice and it inspired her to become a lawyer. However, with almost no role models in the legal community, at the time, she described it as an arduous process with almost no mentors.
“When I went to law school, I was so close to my dreams,” Moreno recalled. “But what was disturbing was having someone tell me and the other three Latinos in the entire school that we didn’t deserve to be there and we were only there because of affirmative action. I started doubting myself. When I graduated and had to take the bar, someone told me, ‘I don’t know if you can do that.’
“My family simply said you can,” she continued. “Then every day of my life, since I met my husband, I have had a whisper saying, you will. The mantra of my life has been, you should, you can, you will.”
Moreno explained that is why she is involved in bar associations — to help provide others with the mentor and inspiration that she didn’t have.
“Especially for any young lawyers who may be here today — if there is ever a time where you wonder if you should apply for a job, you don’t have to go any farther than to come here to the Puerto Rican Bar Association and talk to President Correa, Carmen Pacheco or Justice Colon. They will tell you that you should.”
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