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Iván Martínez

Iván Martínez, 33

Pro Bono Coordinator & Staff Attorney

Center for Arkansas Legal Services

Little Rock

Professional achievements
• Formed partnerships with the Mexican Consulate and the Consulate of El Salvador.
• Organized the first legal clinic in 2023 focusing primarily on the Spanish-speaking community in partnership with Arkansas Access to Justice Commission of Little Rock and Central Arkansas Library System.
• Named Distinguished Alumnus in 2022 by the Latin American Law Students Association at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law.

Community involvement
Focuses, at the nonprofit law firm, on overcoming inequity that low-income Arkansans face in obtaining legal services; recruits attorneys to represent Arkansans or provide legal advice; works to find ways his organization can help Spanish speakers.

Learning from a mentor
“My mentor is my 12th grade English teacher, Erica Ivy. She taught me the importance of advocating for marginalized people and to be uncompromising in my values. I think she deserves complete credit for planting the seeds for my love of public service and for helping others.”

Career dream as a child
“Being an attorney. So I’m living out my dream.”

First job and lessons learned
“My first job was with AmeriCorps Vista at the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance of Little Rock. I learned about the impact that nonprofits have in the lives of the various communities they serve and the importance of developing partnerships to help as many people as possible.”

Advice for future 40 Under 40 honorees
“Even when things don’t go according to plan, just keep going. You’ll be surprised to discover that you will always end up where you are meant to be.”

Professional inspiration
“To help as many people as I possibly can.”

A word to describe you
“Tenacious.”

Most valuable lesson
“Don’t let your ego get in the way. If I wasn’t willing to admit that I didn’t know something, I would never have learned a lot of what I’ve learned. I also wouldn’t have been able to form the partnerships I have if I wasn’t willing to admit that I cannot do it all on my own. By admitting I needed help, I was able to meet lots of people with a variety of skills and I was able to help more people in the long run.”

Professional “aha” moment
“Being willing to put myself out there by admitting I didn’t know something made me realize that not everyone expects you to know everything. It was very liberating to realize that. Problem-solving is not about always having the solution in your back pocket. Sometimes, it involves asking around until you find someone with the answer to your problem. Then you either learn how to solve the issue on your own for next time, or you know exactly who to call next time that it comes up.”

Top challenge facing Arkansas
“That is a very complicated question with a very complicated answer. However, I’m primarily focused on using my role as an attorney to make sure I am helping as many people as possible and to do what I can to remove any barriers to the access of legal services.”

Career dream as a child
“Being an attorney. So I’m living out my dream.”

Most fulfilling career moment
“Forming a partnership with the Mexican Consulate. It has always been a dream of mine to work with the consulate to help people from my native country. The fact that I have been able to accomplish that before reaching my 40s is nothing short of amazing to me.”

Making Arkansas more attractive to young professionals
“We have a very generous legal community and people at various nonprofits that will do whatever necessary to help their fellow Arkansans. I feel privileged to be a resident of this amazing state.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years
“I have no idea, but it will very likely involve me continuing to help people in my community.”

Advice for your 18-year-old self
“Don’t get discouraged just because things don’t go according to your plans because you can still achieve your dreams.”

How you define success
“That is a word that I am consistently redefining. Just when I think I have a set definition, I find something else to set my sights on, and I think that is a journey that I’m always going to be on because there will always be someone out there who I can help.

Best thing about Arkansas
“There are honestly too many things to list.”

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40 Under 40

June 10, 2025

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