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ABA selects Partnership Award winners for diversity efforts

ABA selects Partnership Award winners for diversity efforts

By Edward McEneely

CHICAGO, July 11, 2013 –The ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services selected the Dallas Bar Association, Louisiana State Bar Association and Monroe County (N.Y.) Bar Association as winners of the 2013 ABA Partnership Award. The award recipients will be honored at a joint luncheon of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, National Association of Bar Executives and the National Conference of Bar Foundations on Aug. 9 during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The winners are recognized for their outstanding programming and related work to increase diversity across all spectrums of the legal profession. The awards program is co-sponsored by the National Native American Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association and the National Bar Association.

First hosted in November 2012, the Dallas Bar Association’s Diversity Summit created an opportunity in which leaders of the Dallas legal community could discuss diversity challenges and best practices as well as develop action items to increase diversity across four key areas. The daylong program focused on corporate legal departments, large law firms, bar associations and law school and pipeline programs, with more than 300 participants from Texas and the surrounding states. Partnering with several local organizations and led by Rhonda Hunter, past president of the Dallas Bar Association, the DBA’s Diversity Summit addressed topics such as successful models of diversity in the corporate world, recruiting and retaining minority attorneys, increasing the pipeline and cracking the glass ceiling.

The Louisiana State Bar Association’s Suit Up for the Future High School Summer Legal Institute and Internship Program was the first of its kind at its inception in 2011. To advance the bar association’s diversity goals, the five-week program exposes a select group of high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates to all aspects of the legal profession so that they might consider a future career in the field. Along with law-related field trips and daily guest speakers, the students receive instruction on law school courses, legal research, writing skills, group collaboration for mock cases, oral argumentation and basic office etiquette and attire. At the conclusion of the program, the students complete a draft résumé, personal college statement and legal memorandum, and they present an oral argument to three sitting judges on area Louisiana state and federal courts.

The Monroe County Bar Association and several local organizations developed the Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program for first-year law students from diverse backgrounds. Now in its ninth year, the program provides summer associate jobs in local Rochester law firms, corporate legal departments, legal service providers and government offices for first-year law students from underrepresented groups in the legal profession. Since its creation, 85 students have participated, with 19 hired on as a second-year summer associates. As many as 17 students have returned to the Rochester legal community as associates after graduation. Each year, improvements are made, including the addition of a job fair that incorporates panel discussions with local judges and attorneys, networking and social opportunities, and employment interviews.

This year’s submissions are available on the ABA Division for Bar Services’ webpage.

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