The annual Spirit of Excellence Awards celebrate the accomplishments of lawyers who promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession.
“Nance is a trailblazer, becoming both the first female and first black female dean of a college or school in the history of the University of Arkansas,” said commission Chair Reginald M. Turner. Nance works tirelessly to further diversity and social change in the legal community. At the University of Arkansas, where she began teaching law in 1994, Nance has served as a mentor to dozens of women and a positive example to countless more. During her tenure as dean, Nance oversaw a dramatic climb in the law school’s national ranking and reputation. She encouraged students to contribute their time and talent to the community; during the 2010-11 academic year, school of law students provided more than 3,300 hours of pro bono service. Nance’s efforts to create a welcoming, inclusive community helped the law school increase its minority enrollment to more than 20 percent.
Nance has received many awards for her work in diversity, including the American Association for Affirmative Action’s 2007 Arthur Fletcher Award, the University of Arkansas Black Alumni Society 2007 Honorary Alumni Award, the 2009 T.E. Patterson Education Award from the Arkansas Black Democratic Caucus, and the inaugural 2010 Judge Andree Layton Roaf Award. “Nance is a leader who embraces the best we can be as a profession,” said Turner.
Nance has served as past chair of the American Association of Law Schools Employment Discrimination and Labor & Employment Law sections. Her leadership within the ABA includes serving as co-chair of the Equal Opportunity in the Law Committee of the Labor and Employment Law Section, and as an at-large member of the Labor and Employment Law Section’s Council.
The Spirit of Excellence Awards will be presented during the 2012 ABA Midyear Meeting, Feb. 4, in New Orleans.
The ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession is a catalyst to change the legal profession to reflect the society it serves. It helps racially and ethnically diverse lawyers advance their careers and standing in the profession. Its leadership, programs and information help the profession understand and eliminate racism, bigotry and discrimination. The Commission works to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession, and thus enrich it.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.