ABA Partnership Awards to Honor Three Bar Associations
The ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services is honoring the Mecklenburg County (N.C.) Bar, Massachusetts Bar Association and New Jersey State Bar Foundation as recipients of the 2011 Partnership Awards during the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto Aug. 5. The awards will be presented at the joint luncheon of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, National Association of Bar Executives and National Conference of Bar Foundations.
The awards program is co-sponsored by the National Native American Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association and the National Bar Association.
The honored projects represent broad-based pipeline efforts to nurture diversity in the legal profession. Two noteworthy programs—Lunch with a Lawyer and Diversity Day—are administered by North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County Bar. Volunteer lawyers who participate in the lunch program mentor diverse eighth-grade students and encourage them to consider a legal career. The mentors and students have lunch at a designated school at least once a month throughout the school year. The program culminates at the end of the year, with students “shadowing” their mentors for a day, touring the county courthouse and participating in a mock trial. Since 2006, more than 350 Charlotte-Mecklenburg students and 325 volunteer lawyer mentors have taken part in the program.
MCB’s Diversity Day is an annual one-day conference held at Johnson C. Smith University that exposes high school students of color to opportunities within the legal profession. The event includes three panels featuring law students, law school admission counselors and Charlotte, N.C., lawyers. A keynote address is also provided by a lawyer who has been a pioneer in the profession. During lunch, representatives from local affinity bar organizations, KAPLAN Test Prep and the Council on Legal Education Opportunity meet and talk with students.
The Massachusetts Bar Association’s Tiered Community Mentoring Program is a collaboration among the MBA, Suffolk University Law School, Boston University Law School, Roxbury Community College, UMASS Boston and New Mission High School. It aims to reach urban high school students and prepare them for a legal career by building a diverse mentoring network. Launched in 2009, the year-long program matches four tiers of individuals: 10 high school students, 10 law students, 10 college students and 10 lawyer mentees. Activities include visiting the Massachusetts State House, attending an appellate argument at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court or Appeals Court and observing a court hearing.
The New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s Street Law Programs empower urban youth in underserved neighborhoods by developing knowledge, understanding and academic skills through law-related educational programs implemented by members of the legal profession who have achieved academic and professional success. The programs are available to teens residing in group homes and detention centers, plus those who attend alternative high schools. During each of the last four years, 600 students have reviewed Street Law lessons, participated in mock trials, taken field trips and were mentored by law students, lawyers and judges.
This year’s program submissions, as well as those from 2003 through 2010, are available at the ABA Division for Bar Services’ webpage.