Monumental City Bar Association
National Bar Association
National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA)
36th Annual National Convention
March 18, 2004
On behalf of the over 20,000 men and women of the National Bar
Association, I am indeed honored to extend a hearty greeting to the future
leaders of the legal profession and of this historic Association.
I must extend special thanks and congratulations to your Chairperson,
Mischonda Baldwin, the first two-time Chair of this great Organization,
for her unswerving leadership of this organization and one who is destined
for greatness in the National Bar Association.
I would like to make two brief points this afternoon.
First, it is urgently important that each of you succeed in your
aspiration to become a legal professional; and second, much will be
expected of you once you become a legal profession.
With regards to completing your journey to become a legal professional,
the decline in the percentage of African American enrolled in law schools
raises urgent concerns about the future of African Americans in the legal
profession. The National Bar Association must and is taking immediate
steps to ensure that more of our youth become eligible for the resource
pool from which law students are selected. This requires that we closely
examine the challenges confronting our youth from K – 12 to college and
then develop strategies to overcome them. In this regards, the National
Bar Association has undertaken the following measures:
We sent a letter to the Appropriations
Subcommittee urging Congress to include 2004 funding for the CLEO
Program which funds legal education for over 600 African American
youngsters who otherwise would not be able to attend law school.
- We participated in the ABA Pipeline Conference,
held in Washington, DC, which focused on best practices and challenges
to ensure diversity in the bar.
- We developed an NBA Pipeline Message that focuses
on challenges and opportunities associated with environments confronting
African Americans and other ethnic minorities who aspire to become legal
- In collaboration with the US Department of
Education, we developed for funding a proposed model “Leave No Child
Behind” Initiative that is centered on legal mentoring and technology
parity for our youngsters in underserved communities.
Once you become a lawyer, the expectations continue
to heighten. In addition to your responsibility to earn a living and repay
astronomical student loans, I strongly encourage each of you to:
- Recognize that you now represent the voice of the
Black legal community with an obligation of protecting the civil and
political rights of citizens of underserved communities.
- Become and remain active in the Association. It
offers a unique opportunity to network with lawyers who share common
interests and concerns. Also, it offers early leadership opportunities
in a major bar association which typically is not available in any other
- Become involved in local bar activities as a
means of establishing yourself in the bar and in your community.
Remember that our communities expect for us to represent them whether
they pay or not.
Thank you and have a great Conference!