During the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey’s (HBA-NJ) 41st Annual Installation and Swearing-In Ceremony on December 3, 2020, newly minted President and Lowenstein Sandler Partner Reynold Lambert announced his annual theme for 2020-2021: ¡Respira! Break Barriers & Rebuild Our Future. Respira, (Spanish for “breathe”) served as a stark reminder of the social and racial injustices of 2020 and as a call to action.
Lambert’s proclamation of his annual theme set the stage for his ambitious and aggressive presidential agenda dedicated to advancing the interests of the Latinx community in New Jersey. “While we take aim at helping others, it is important that we pause for a moment and take a breath,” he said. “We need to do a better job of taking care of ourselves.” Lambert remained true to both his annual theme and opening presidential remarks throughout his year as HBA-NJ President with his numerous successful efforts to advance the interests of Latinx individuals in the New Jersey community and legal profession.
In his role as HBA-NJ President, Lambert organized and led initiatives, programs, and public advocacy activities aimed at fostering a more diverse legal landscape and addressing issues that affect the Latinx community. Under his leadership over the past year, the HBA-NJ successfully put forth professional growth and networking initiatives for its membership, educational opportunities, social activism, and community initiatives. The association also fostered the pipeline to the legal profession, advocated for diversity in the judicial and executive branches, and supported young Latinx lawyers.
“We are so proud of Rey’s incredible efforts over the past year —not only as the leader of the HBA-NJ but also for all that he brings to the firm” says Gary M. Wingens, Chair and Managing Partner of Lowenstein, which served as sole Underwriter Sponsor for the association’s 2020-2021 program. Wingens continues, “We are equally proud that Rey is the third Lowenstein partner to have served as president of HBA-NJ, continuing our firm’s multi-generational legacy commitment to the association and its members.”
Acting on his opening presidential remarks, Lambert spent considerable effort during his term to ensure HBA-NJ members were taking care of themselves. He launched the Respira campaign to tackle the mental health struggles silently plaguing the legal profession, which disproportionately affect the Latinx community. As part of that campaign, the HBA-NJ held its inaugural Mental Education & Nurturing Through Engagement (M.E.N.T.E.) Conference, where expert panelists shared personal stories and advice as part of the association’s efforts to eradicate mental health stigmas in the legal profession. At the two-day event, four inspiring and engaging panels addressed some of the mental health issues that affect attorneys, such as imposter syndrome and its impact on attorneys from underrepresented groups, attorneys’ ethical obligation to seek help when facing mental health issues, and coping and recovery strategies. This year’s HBA-NJ’s Women’s Empowerment Leadership & Law (W.E.L.L.) Conference also addressed unique struggles faced by Latinas in the legal profession. Through Lambert’s call to action, the HBA-NJ led the way to make mental health and wellness a priority in the legal profession.
Opening the doors of opportunity for others is one of Lambert’s personal passions, so he used his presidential role to help the association’s membership break through barriers through such initiatives as the inaugural HBA-NJ “Invest in You” series. These informal seminars featured expert panelists sharing their knowledge about how to succeed in different legal roles, such as in-house counsel, owners of a small law firm, associates at law firms, and partners at law firms. The series provided membership with an opportunity to gain invaluable insights from leaders in specific practice settings and receive practical keys to success.
Lambert also led the HBA-NJ’s efforts to build a strong pipeline of future Latinx leaders. The association mentored and educated law school, college, and high school students. It also awarded an astounding $111,000 in scholarships and contributions to the HBA-NJ scholarship endowment fund, the most ever awarded by the organization.
Lambert’s work as HBA-NJ President also assisted Latinx lawyers in breaking through barriers to the judiciary and other government roles. During the year, the HBA-NJ’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee (JPAC) solicited, met, and vetted potential candidates for the federal and state judiciary. Two of its endorsed candidates were nominated to the federal judiciary, and three were appointed to the state bench (Judges Paul Nieves, Michael Jimenez, and Veronica Allende). The HBA-NJ and the Hispanic National Bar Association also issued a joint statement supporting the appointment of Passaic County Prosecutor, Camelia M. Valdes, as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
Juggling his presidential responsibilities with his full-time role as partner in Lowenstein’s Business Litigation and Class Action Litigation groups was no easy task, but Lambert successfully navigated both roles to significant acclaim. He recently received recognition for his work by two prominent New Jersey publications: the 2021 ROI Influencers: People of Color, an annual list of “difference makers” in New Jersey, and the New Jersey Law Journal’s list of the 2021 Diverse Attorneys of the Year.
Marking the end of his presidential term, Lambert will be installed as the Immediate Past President of the HBA-NJ on November 11 at the 42nd Annual Installation and Swearing-In Ceremony. “It has been a great privilege to serve the HBA-NJ as President this past year,” he says. “The opportunity to positively impact the Latinx community in a multitude of different ways through my role as President has been one of my greatest accomplishments in my career.” Lambert will continue to serve the HBA-NJ in an advisory role for the upcoming bar year and as co-chair of its JPAC.