School of Law Career and Professional Development Coordinator Dan Winterlin, left, talks with law student Roger Maldonado '13 J.D. in 2013. (Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas)

Q&A With School of Law Alumnus Roger Maldonado '13 J.D.

Roger Maldonado '13 J.D. is an associate at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in Minneapolis who works with clients on a variety of business-related issues including bankruptcy cases, equipment leasing issues, receiverships, and related commercial and financial litigation. He is also a captain in the Minnesota Army National Guard. In the spring of 2019, Maldonado became the president of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA), an organization he first became involved with as a law student. We recently caught up with Maldonado to learn more about his leadership position with the MHBA and why he chooses to be active in a local professional legal organization.

Roger Maldonado

What are your goals for your year as president of MHBA?

I’ve served on the MHBA Board for the past six years and, from the friendships and connections I’ve made by serving the MHBA, I truly call this organization my familia. Not only is it a support system for me, but it has opened countless opportunities to serve our legal community, all which have helped me grow both personally and professionally. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the MHBA. My goals this year are to provide opportunities for all of our members through our programming and events.

Now that you are a few months into your post, what has been the most unexpected or most surprising thing about being president?

The most surprising thing about being president of the MHBA has been realizing the great impression you can leave on individuals and communities by simply sitting down and getting to know one another and sharing what we do at the MHBA. I've found that once you sit down with our members or prospective members, it's pretty easy to get them engaged and involved by simply inviting them to join you in an effort.

What motivated you to pursue leadership positions within MHBA?

It was a really easy choice for me to jump into leadership positions at the MHBA once I started to get to know the great attorneys and judges involved in the organization. Particularly when you realize the work and effort that has been done by past MHBA leadership to grow our organization to where it is today. The MHBA was started by 12 lawyers in 1991 and today we have more than 400 members with strong relationships with the government, prominent national law firms, local-based Fortune 500 companies, bar associations, and other regional firms and businesses due to the large number of members in leadership positions in these entities. It's an honor to serve the MHBA community as its president.

As an attorney, member of the Minnesota Army National Guard, husband and father – in addition to leading MHBA – how do you balance it all?

I'm not sure it’s about balancing everything, but more so about being present and focused at the office, or at military training, or when I'm with my family to ensure I always bring my best self.

What’s something you learned at St. Thomas, in class or out, that you carry with you even today as a legal professional?

St. Thomas Law, from day one, teaches its students to be constant professionals in everything we do, both in and out of the courtroom. An example is the Mentor Externship Program. These professional relationships not only provided insight into the practice of law, but more importantly introduced me to the small tight-knit circle that is the Twin Cities legal community. My mentor played a huge role in landing my first job out of law school. I was applying for a highly competitive opening and my mentor put me in touch with the chair of the finance and restructuring group in a big law firm in Minneapolis. From that conversation I was better able to share at my interview why I believed I was a good fit for the position. I didn't name drop, but they asked who it was, and after sharing, I could tell they were impressed that I had done my homework in preparing for the interview. I believe this likely set me apart from the other candidates applying for the position and I have my mentor to thank for giving me that edge.