On April 21, 2016, Long Island Business News hosted the Diversity in Business Awards to honor business leaders of diverse ethnicities, who have exemplified a leadership and commitment to increasing diversity in the business community on Long Island. Amongst the honorees was David Mejias, a family law attorney from Mejias, Milgrim & Alvarado, which is the only law firm on Long Island where every member of the firm is a minority.
When David Mejias put out his shingle to practice law he found himself very much alone as he discovered much to his dismay that he was one of the very few lawyers on Long island who could speak conversational English to his Spanish speaking clients.
Twenty years later the law firm of Mejias, Milgrim & Alvarado now employs a half dozen attorneys and five members of support staff all of whom happen to be women or minorities or both. For Mejias it is partly by design and partly his belief that minorities who have struggled to enter white collar professions are focused laser like on success.
“Our law firm’s staff represents 21st Century America and yet we share something that I believe has been a constant in our nation’s history. Every immigrant wave has been hungry to succeed, to demonstrate a work ethic that insists we are still a country of opportunity regardless of the prejudice or discrimination that seeks to hold that new group back,” observed Mejias.
While staff includes those of Indian, Latino and African American descent, Mejias says competence, professionalism and pride in winning cases remains the criteria for hiring. “Quotas don’t work here. But nor is there a sense of entitlement. We have been fortunate to find, recruit and retain smart people who happen to represent a spectrum of diversity. It also allows us to communicate with clients who share those ethnicities so there is nothing loss in language, culture or thought when you enter the courtroom.”
To the best of his knowledge Mejias says his is the only law firm on Long Island where every member of the law firm is a minority, especially if you define “minority” as being an overachiever.