Every year, September 15 to October 15 is observed as National Hispanic Heritage Month. The spotlight is on the generations of Hispanic Americans who have made countless contributions to all aspects of American life. As we celebrate the cultures and achievements of the Latinx diaspora, we recognize a few of our Rutgers Law School alumni who are trailblazers in the legal field.
Carlos Bollar ’97 is a past president of the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. He is also a Board of Trustees Member of the New Jersey State Bar Association and Legal Services of New Jersey. As a Partner at Archer & Greiner, Bollar is Co-Chair of Archer’s Environmental Justice Practice Group and represents clients in complex toxic tort, product liability and environmental litigation matters. He will be awarded the Arthur E. Armitage, Sr. Distinguished Alumni Award at this year’s Gov. James J. Florio Scholarship Benefit and Distinguished Alumni Awards.
Hon. Carmen Garcia ’85 is the first Hispanic woman to serve as a Municipal Court Judge in Mercer County, New Jersey. She was inducted into the New Jersey Women's Hall of Fame in 2012 and was a member of the Rutgers Law School Dean’s Advisory Council. Judge Garcia founded Alianza (The Latin American Law Student Alliance) at the law school in Camden and established an endowed scholarship fund to benefit Latinx high school students from Camden. The Bright Futures Scholarship is awarded annually at Alianza’s banquet, which will be held on October 19 this year.
Hon. Joseph H. Rodriguez ’58, senior district judge, is the first Hispanic judge of New Jersey’s U.S. District Court. Before his appointment to the bench, he served as New Jersey’s public advocate and public defender. He also served as the first Hispanic president of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Judge Rodriguez has served as an instructor at Rutgers Law School and continues to serve as a mentor to law school students.
Felipe Chavana ’76 has served as Executive Director of the Essex-Newark Legal Services Program since 1989. His legal career has been dedicated to seeking justice for the poor and disadvantaged. Essex-Newark Legal Services has been providing free legal assistance on civil matters to Essex-County residents since 1966.
Hon. Marianne Espinosa (ret.) ‘74 is the first Hispanic woman to serve as a Superior Court judge in the Morris-Sussex vicinage. She became Of Counsel to Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins P.C. after 19 years as a judge in the Superior Court of New Jersey, serving on the Appellate Division from 2009-2017, and as a trial judge in the Civil, Criminal and Family Divisions. While serving on the Appellate Division, Judge Espinosa authored more than 80 published opinions.
Hon. Zulima Farber ’74 was became the first Hispanic and African American female to serve as New Jersey Attorney General in 2006 as well as the first Hispanic woman to serve as acting governor of New Jersey. In 2011, Farber rejoined Lowenstein Sandler before retiring the following year. She was the first woman to make partner at Lowenstein Sandler in 1986.