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Legal eagle calls upon her past to help move Hispanic Bar Association, future lawyers forward

Liza A. Milgrim, in the Garden City offices

Liza A. Milgrim, in the Garden City offices of the law firm where she is a partner, is the new president of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Liza A. Milgrim said that as the daughter of an immigrant she understands the challenges faced by members of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association — of which she is the new president — and the community they often serve. Her mother, Rosario Ubilla Milgrim, emigrated from Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 1968, and Milgrim, 42, spent summers there.

"That allows you to see a different way of growing up … to see people who are in real need," she said.

Milgrim, who specializes in premises liability, construction, motor vehicle and personal injury accidents, as well as labor law at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo PC, in Garden City, spoke to Newsday about her new role, her heritage and how her background has influenced her work.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish as president of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association?

The mission of the LIHBA is to foster and promote the advancement of Hispanic attorneys here on Long Island, and I think a big part of that is the needs of the student … I’ve formed the New Lawyers Committee, which will focus on building pipeline programs and professional development.

Q: Why is it important to work with new lawyers at the Hispanic Bar Association?

Many are not only the first generation to attend law school, but the first generation to attend college. We work a lot with students at the three Long Island law schools — Hofstra, Touro and St. John’s [in Queens] — and also with the Nassau and Suffolk District Attorney’s offices, offering stipends that allow students to work at the unpaid internships that provide opportunities there.

Q: How has your own background influenced your work?

It’s an automatic connection with these students, with these lawyers, an automatic connection with the community. For one, I watched my mother, who was an immigrant, struggle with the language … There were times very simple things made her anxious. Filling out a form in the doctor’s office, for instance … When you witness that you have a compassion for people who come here … I pass that along to any young student. And it serves me well. I see my mother in clients, what they deal with.

Q: How did mentors influence you?

My mom, for sure, was my first mentor. I was always surrounded by great teachers. My first boss at Sullivan Papain was a great mentor … A parent, a teacher, a coach, a bar association president. Your job is to give back and to pay it forward. Somebody did it for you. Your job is to do it for somebody else.

Q: Any particular challenge the Long Island Hispanic community faces?

Obviously, right now with the COVID pandemic situation, just getting access to accurate legal information is a big issue … We’ve created a lawyer’s FAQ and recorded it in English and Spanish, and we’ve created a YouTube channel which recorded discussions of members talking about landlord-tenant issues, family law, immigration — a wide variety of topics … things like know-your-rights programs.

Q: What’s the best way to contact the bar association regarding legal advice, legal issues and opportunities?

They can email the association at lihbacontact@gmail.com.

COUNSEL OF RECORD

Liza A. Milgrim, Esq., is the new president of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association. The term is for one year. She joined Garden City-based Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo PC in 2005, and is a partner.

GREW UP IN: Gravesend, Brooklyn

LIVES IN: Merrick

ALMA MATERS: Abraham Lincoln High School, 1995; Brandeis University, 1999; St. John’s University Law, 2002

*The link to the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association’s YouTube channel can be found at YouTube.com under LIHBA Legal Information Program.

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