Hispanic Issues Section Institutes James W. Wray, Jr. Founder’s Award

The Hispanic Issues Section is thrilled to announce the creation of a new Founder’s Award, to be given out by the Chair of the Hispanic Issues Section each year to a member or former member of the Hispanic Issues Section to recognize exceptional achievements on behalf of the Hispanic legal community in Texas. The award is being named after its first honoree, Mr. James W. Wray, Jr. of Corpus Christi. The award was presented to Mr. Wray at a small ceremony in October 2013 that was attended by, among others, Mr. Wray’s daughters.

Mr. Wray’s incredible effect on the Hispanic legal community in Texas cannot be measured. He helped to create, along with the work of several others and facing what has been described as vitriolic opposition, the predecessor to the current Hispanic Issues Section, and has been a member ever since. For more on Jim’s tremendous efforts, here are additional comments from Doug Chaves, a partner in the firm of Chaves, Obregon & Perales, where Mr. Wray practices today:

I first met Jim when I interviewed with his law firm in 1977. At that time there existed no Hispanic attorneys in Corpus Christi in the “insurance defense firms.” Jim took the lead in ensuring that I was hired (which was no small accomplishment in those days), then accepted me as his associate and trained and mentored me for the rest of my legal career. Jim is now 91 years old and is still my mentor and remains practicing law with me in the office next door.

I can recite the many accomplishments which this man has earned during his life, dating back to the day that he landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, his professorship at Baylor Law School following the war, and his long distinguished legal career in the State of Texas. But I can also tell you that Jim’s passion for ensuring that all lawyers are provided with the opportunity to prove themselves began long before I met him. In the first year of my association with Jim, he was elected District Bar Director. At that time a young local Hispanic lawyer, Manuel Banales, challenged the Bar on a constitutional basis, and the Bar was stunned. Instead of decrying Banales’ actions as many of the then-present Bar District Directors did; Jim reached out to him and inquired as to why he was filing this lawsuit. Jim learned that Banales, along with many other Hispanic attorneys, felt disenfranchised by the Bar, and that all avenues to upper level positions within the Bar were not available to the growing number of Hispanic attorneys.

From that moment forward, Jim began to advance the needs and interest of all Hispanic attorneys in the State of Texas. First, by sponsoring the creation of what became the Hispanic Issues Section and then by following through with becoming a member and STAYING a member to this very day. His commitment to the section has never wavered and his passion for the section has never been diluted.

Today Jim practices in an ALL Hispanic law firm of Chaves, Obregon & Perales in Corpus Christi, doing the same thing he did 40 years ago, reaching out, helping those who need help and ensuring that all are included in the system that he loves.

We are delighted to recognize Mr. Wray’s achievements on behalf of the Hispanic legal community, are honored to name our Founder’s Award after him, and look forward to giving the award to other similarly important contributors to the growth of our community in coming years.

Justice Patricia O. Alvarez,
Chair, Hispanic Issues Section

Below please find several pictures from the ceremony.  Thank you Mr. Wray!