by Hisham Masri
Mario H. Nguyen’s commitments to representing the underserved and “lift as you rise” mentality are reflected in his service, leadership, and everything that he does to promote a better community. Mario was raised in a world filled with adversity but, in spite of it, found solutions, overcame challenges, and continues to be a beacon of positivity for those around him.
Mario grew up in a household below the federal poverty line where English was a second language. Even so, Mario excelled in speech and debate in high school. In fact, he earned a full scholarship to Western Kentucky University for winning the National Speech and Debate Association’s national competition in Original Oratory, a persuasive, ten-minute speech about embracing non-traditional gender roles. Mario was also featured in a speech and debate documentary titled Thank you for Judging, which centered on his high school speech and debate team. Mario’s talent for persuasive speaking, additionally, earned him an opportunity to deliver a speech at the 2009 National Equality March advocating for LGBT+ rights in front of over 200,000 people on the steps of Congress in Washington, D.C., on the same stage as Lady Gaga. Days after the March, then-President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Mario sought to help create a voice for the underserved LGBT+ community, despite the risk to his personal reputation. He continues his advocacy today.
After graduating from Western Kentucky University, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State selected Mario as a Binational Business U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Mexico. During his time as a Fulbright Scholar, Mario attended business school in Mexico City while working at Ashoka Social Entrepreneurs supporting start-ups using innovative solutions to resolve social issues across Mexico and seven Central American countries.
Mario took the LSAT prior to his Fulbright Grant, but did not achieve the score he aspired for. After an additional year of studying during his Fulbright placement, Mario retook the LSAT, increased his score substantially, and earned admission to Harvard Law School.
There, Mario earned a spot on one of the law school’s honors societies, the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the oldest student-run law firm in the Nation. Members of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau commit two years to representing low-income clients in the greater Boston area pursuant to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03, concurrent to their legal education. Mario also co-founded Supero (Latin: to overcome), a student organization at Harvard Law School for first-generation college graduates and individuals from low-income backgrounds.
After graduation, Mario returned to Dallas to work as a White-Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations Attorney at Locke Lord LLP. Upon his return, Mario has already made a big impact in the local legal community. With only one year as a licensed attorney under his belt, he tried the two-month long novel Forest Park Medical Center federal criminal trial alongside several top trial attorneys. Mario also revived the Dallas LGBT+ Bar Association (“DLGBTBA”), and successfully advocated for the DAYL to recognize the DLGBTBA as a sister bar association in 2019 — the first time this has ever happened in the DLGBTBA’s history dating back to 1993. Mario continues to make waves as a member of the DAYL’s 2019 Leadership Class. DAYL is lucky to have leaders like Mario paving the way for the underrepresented.
It is clear that Mario is a servant leader and continues to open doors (or kick ‘em down) wherever he goes. For these reasons, Mario is DAYL’s One to Watch!