Diversity Highlight: First Latina Partner at Prestigious NY Firm

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 21, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The storied NY law firm of Cravath Swain and Moore recently added the firm's first Latina to its ranks of partners. It's a career position that Damaris Hernandez probably did not envision when she first started her legal career.

Her position is due thanks in part to the generosity and vision of Anthony and Beatrice Welters, founders of the AnBryce scholarship program that helped law students from backgrounds like Hernandez's to reach their professional goals.

The Cravath Firm

Cravath is one of the nation's oldest law firms spanning a history or more than two centuries. The firm that would eventually become Cravath was founded in New York in 1819, more accurately meaning that the firm has been around for almost two centuries.

Cravath's client list is as legendary as the firm itself. Throughout American history, it has maintained close ties with the expansion of the American railroad system and has also been involved in some of the country's most important decision including Jones v. Van Zandt and Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust. Despite this, the firm has stayed relatively small at 500-700 attorneys.

First Latina

Ms. Hernandez attended Harvard for her undergrad degree and went on to study law at NYU. She can proudly call herself the first Latina partner at one of the most legendary firms in American legal history.

The AnBryce Scholarship

Ms. Hernandez is one of a hundred other attorneys who attended NYU who were able to secure the help from a scholarship established by a Mr. Anthony Welters, a 1977 NYU law grad who eventually went on to become the executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group. He also is the founder of the Medicaid services company AmeriChoice.

The AnBryce scholarship aims to promote economic diversity. Mr. Welters, a black man who grew up in Harlem, was the first in his family to pursue an advanced degree. "It's not about just giving cash," he said, It's more than academic credentials. It takes a hell of a lot to become a successful lawyer. These students can compete; they just have to know the rules of the road." Each one of the students came from a disadvantaged background and was the recipient of a very generous $175,000 for three years of legal education.

But the scholarship has generally expanded with more donor money, choosing 10 scholars per law school class for a total of about 30 each year based on economic background and leadership potential.

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