Norton Rose Fulbright
Gerardo “Jerry” Alcazar was an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee when he noticed a relative lack of students of color in his classes. That was the genesis of Alcazar’s long-term efforts to help diversify the legal profession, a commitment that has continued throughout his career.
The son of Mexican immigrants, Alcazar grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin law school in 2006. Later that year, he joined Minneapolis-based Robins Kaplan LLP as a civil litigator.
Alcazar recalls that his law school was “fairly diverse” due to the U of W’s efforts to recruit law students of color. But “when I got into private practice, there were not many brown and black lawyers, so I realized that it’s important to take on leadership roles in organizations, to promote recruiting, development and promotion of diverse lawyers.”
A national litigator and trial counsel for Fortune 500 corporations at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, he believes one key to diversifying the legal profession is “being more open to diverse perspectives, and the differences that can help solve problems. Also, being aware of the commonalities that make diverse and non-diverse lawyers similar.”
For more than a decade, Alcazar has been involved in the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association’s efforts to diversify the bench, as a member of the MHBA’s judicial endorsement committee.
Diversity progress has been made, said Alcazar, a past-president of the MHBA. “One of the issues we were dealing with when I was president was the fact we had never had a Hispanic judge on the state’s courts of appeals. Since then we have had two. We still have not had one on the Minnesota Supreme Court or either circuit courts or courts of appeals, so there is still progress to be made there.”
When he is not practicing law, another cause Alcazar supports is Hiawatha Academies, a network of schools in South Minneapolis serving a student body that is 99% students of color. He is currently the chair of the Hiawatha Academies Board of Directors. A board member since 2014, he has served as the vice-chair of the board of directors and as the governance and development committees chair.
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