Monumental City Bar Association

Statement Of Clyde Bailey,
President National Bar Association

Before the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA)
36th Annual National Convention
March 18, 2004

Good Afternoon!

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 professionals.
  • 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 professional association.
  • 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!