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2019 Diversity & Inclusion: Jorge Saavedra

Scott Carlson//October 10, 2019//

2019 Diversity & Inclusion: Jorge Saavedra

Scott Carlson//October 10, 2019//

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As a Latino attorney, Jorge Saavedra was concerned about how few Latino students enter the legal profession. Hispanics account for only 4% of the nation’s lawyers, according to the National Hispanic Bar Association. So, what small step could Saavedra take to help turn that number around?

“The idea I came up with was Latino Lawyer Camp, which is a weeklong summer camp for Latino eighth-graders to introduce them to the legal profession,” said Saavedra, former chief legal officer at Centro Legal and now an assistant Ramsey County Attorney. “The kids learn about the law, prepare a mock trial, and then every day during the six-day camp we do a field trip.”

“The purpose is to tell eighth-graders, ‘If you want to get into the legal profession, you can do it, but you need to start working on that in ninth grade,’” said Saavedra, who came to America from Chile at age 8. Launched in 2016, the camp is staffed by Latino volunteers, who include judges, police officials and more than 40 attorneys. Saavedra is working to establish the camp as a nonprofit organization.

At his day job, Saavedra helps fellow attorneys in the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office assess collateral consequences on immigrants who commit adult crimes. The fallout can affect possible deportation proceedings and future housing, employment and education opportunities, he said. “We take a careful look at the way that we might be able to help individuals navigate and avoid some of those consequences while still meeting our objective to safeguard public safety and represent the interests of victims of crime,” Saavedra said.

Saavedra’s professional dossier also includes solo practitioner, national director at the nonprofit Voter Engagement Network and executive director at Minneapolis-based Headwaters Foundation for Justice.

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