Luminarias: An Empirical Portrait of the First Generation of Latina Lawyers
Atencio, D. S. (2023), Chicana/o Latina/o Law Review, 39(1)
Luminarias: An Empirical Portrait of the First Generation of Latina Lawyers is the result of Visiting Scholar Dolores Atencio’s seven-year research study to identify the first Latinas who earned law degrees in the United States and Puerto Rico over the 100-year Study Period of 1880–1980, whom she affectionately calls Luminarias. Atencio takes us on a journey from segregation to the dawn of integration, to present the first empirical portrait in Luminarias. The article dives into their numbers through the decades; the law schools from which they earned law degrees and states in which they were licensed; their racial and ethnic composition; and their areas of practice—including those in which they excelled and those denied to them. Atencio evaluates the scholarship on Latina identity, practically tackling and sensitively answering the thorny issue of “Who is Latina?” In so doing, she creates a paradigm for scholars to emulate—Latino/a and non-Latina. Throughout, Atencio gives us a hint of the Luminarias through select narratives, just enough to stir the interest but which leaves one wanting more. Of the publishing law review journal, Atencio notes, “it is fitting and so touching that UCLA Chicanx-Latinx Law Review would publish the research as Loretta Sifuentes was a Luminaria—the cofounder and first editor-in-chief of the Chicano Law Review (originally named). Full circle.”
Atencio is in the last class of Luminarias, earning her J.D. in 1980 from the University of Denver Law School. She is the University of Denver Latinx Center’s first Visiting Scholar. Dolores is a former President of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association.
“UCLA School of Law’s Chicanx-Latinx Law Review (CLLR) proudly presents cutting-edge scholarship on the Latinx community’s fight for belonging and justice in the U.S. Through Dolores Atencio’s Luminarias: An Empirical Portrait of the First Generation of Latina Lawyers, CLLR achieves the distinction of being the first law journal to publish research documenting the initial 100 years of Latinas in the field of law. CLLR was impressed by Atencio’s depth of research, including coverage of 167 law schools, and her dedication to uplifting the many accomplishments of these Latina women. Given the few Latinas in the legal profession today, and the lack of research generally about this underrepresented group, Atencio makes significant scholarly contributions in the study of this systematically excluded group.” – UCLA Chicanx-Latinx Law Review
Read/download a copy of Luminarias below.