The USC Gould School of Law hosted a reception to honor the president-elect of the California State Bar, Luis J. Rodriguez, Wednesday evening at Town and Gown.Rodriguez, who will be sworn in as the 89th president of the state bar on Oct. 12, is the first Latino, as well as the first public defender, to become president of the state bar.Gould faculty, California law professionals and law students attended the event. Many were excited for what Rodriguez’s election meant for the position.“He’s breaking down a lot of barriers that have been up for a long time,” said Olga Peña, a second-year law student and president of the Latino Law Student Association. “[It’s] a way to combat a lot of stereotypes because there’s still a feeling in the community that certain people become lawyers, and not all people become lawyers.”Robert K. Rasmussen, dean of the Gould School; Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles district attorney and USC alumna; Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney, and Rodriguez himself all spoke at the event.“Luis has done a lot and he’s forever committed to being the voice for those who have no voice,” Lacey said.Rodriguez attended Santa Clara University for both undergraduate studies and law school, but Rasmussen welcomed him to the Trojan Family at the end of the speeches by presenting him with an honorary gavel. The two also posed for a picture with matching “Fight On” signs.“Diversity is a foundational principal of our law school,” Rasmussen said. “We have always been committed to making sure that our law school looks like California and when someone like Luis succeeds, we all succeed.”Rodriguez also praised the Gould School for its ongoing commitment to diversity. More than 40 percent of the incoming law school class is a minority, according to Gould faculty.“Of the incoming law school class of 175 [students], 31 are Latino, which is unheard of in so many other institutions of higher learning. [Rasmussen’s] commitment to diversity is very valuable,” Rodriguez said. “I’m looking forward to working with USC.”Rodriguez already has experience working with students. As a past president of the Mexican American Law Association, Luis worked as a mentor to law students.“I was given him [as a mentor] because I want to work as a public defender, and he was also part of the public defender’s office of Los Angeles County,” said Evan Langinger, Rodriguez’s former mentee and a third-year law student at Gould. “This is a huge deal. He’s the first Latino elected to be head of the state bar, and I think more importantly, the first public defender to be president of the state bar.”Langinger works with Peña as part of USC’s Latino Law Student Association’s executive board. The group holds clinics to help people in the community, as well as volunteers at a teen court at Roosevelt High School.“We try to be here for the community and to do things for the community,” Peña said.The reception for Rodriguez was sponsored by several Los Angeles law firms. According to the law school, the sponsors raised close to $50,000, which will be donated in Rodriguez’s name to the Gould School’s immigration clinic. Students in the law school provide pro bono legal services to clients. The clinic has become a go-to place for transgender Mexican immigrants seeking asylum because of hate crimes committed against them in their home country.