Profile: National Bar Association
Josiah J. Puder is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and Vice-President and General Manager of Melt, Inc., a public company headquatered in Southerhn California.
Although many know the acronym “NBA” to stand for the National Basketball Association, it also is an abbreviation for the oldest and most prestigious minority bar association in the country, the National Bar Association. Founded in 1925, when African-American attorneys could not join mainstream bar organizations, the NBA has for decades been a strong and active leader in promoting justice and opportunities for those whose voices historically have been muted or ignored. Today, the NBA’s mission is as broad and diverse as its membership, focused on the social, legal, and professional advancement of minority attorneys and the promotion of diversity in the workplace, in schools, and in the greater community.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the NBA has a Board of Governors that formulates the Association’s policies. The Board consists of the president, president-elect, four vice-presidents, a secretary and a treasurer, twelve regional directors, five former NBA presidents, seven at-large representatives, seven affiliated chapter representatives, one representative from each of the twenty-one substantive law sections, and one representative from each of the nine special interest divisions. Between the regular meetings of the Board of Governors, the Executive Committee (composed of the NBA officers and seven board members) functions on behalf of the Board. In addition, and like the ABA, the NBA has an executive director and staff who oversee the administration of the Association.
The NBA also has a young lawyers division, which has a seat on the NBA Board of Governors. To join the NBA YLD, one has to be a member of the NBA. The fees involved are determined by the length of time an attorney has been in practice. Carlos Moore, a principal in the Moore Law Office, PLLC, in Grenada, Mississippi, is the current NBA YLD chair. Moore, a 2002 graduate of Florida State University College of Law, practices litigation, family law, criminal defense, and general practice. Moore recalls going to his first NBA convention in 2000, while still a law student. “After that, I saw a great opportunity for involvement,” Moore says.
Indeed, the NBA is an organization of people who are dedicated to advancing the profession, while having some fun too. Every year the NBA YLD has an Annual Retreat, bringing young lawyers together from around the country. This coming year, NBA YLD members will get “All Aboard” the “Fantasy of the Sea,” an exotic four-day cruise from New Orleans to Cozumel, Mexico, for a Diversity Roundtable & Networking Retreat. The NBA YLD’s Fall Meeting was held at Tuskegee University in Alabama, its Mid-Winter Meeting (January 2008) will be in the U.S. Virgin Islands, its Mid-Year Meeting (April 2008) is in Chicago, and an International Meeting (June 2008) is planned for Toronto, Canada.
The NBA YLD’s theme this year is “Standing for Justice . . . Lifting as We Climb,” which emphasizes the Division’s focus on social and community service. In support of this theme, the Division has implemented a public service project called “Touch 10,000 Challenge.” The Challenge is to mentor thousands of minority and nonminority disadvantaged, underrepresented, and low-income individuals from across the country. Whether speaking to a group of college students about minorities in the legal profession or putting on a seminar for indigent persons in a housing project, the goal of the project is to touch as many people’s lives as possible and to initiate a broad and vertical rope to tie community members together.
Most recently, the NBA took an active role in focusing worldwide attention on the plight of the Jena Six, in response to what was perceived by many as disparate treatment received by African-American students in connection with various racial incidents in and around a high school in Jena, Louisiana. The NBA YLD has also been involved in helping college students advance in their careers and has put on numerous workshops across the country to provide resume building, career advice, and practical tips on career advancement.
In conjunction with top-notch continuing legal education seminars put on by NBA members at its various meetings and conferences, the NBA also publishes several periodicals, including NBA Magazine, a quarterly newspaper, and Connections, a newsletter produced by the NBA YLD.
The advantages of membership in the NBA are numerous and include immediate access to some of the best legal minds in the country, a social outlet from the stresses of work, mentoring by other NBA members, access to some of the finest CLEs and various opportunities to network, in addition to what Carlos Moore terms, a “family reunion” atmosphere. For example, at one NBA convention, Carlos met an individual—a complete stranger at the time—who later became instrumental in helping Carlos serve a party in a foreign state. Connections such as this, Moore says, are “invaluable.”
In addition, at NBA meetings, members have an opportunity to meet prominent figures such as Billy Martin (attorney for Michael Vick), Willy Gary, the late Johnnie Cochrane, Jesse Jackson, and a host of other guest speakers who have graced the NBA’s podiums.The NBA also has a long and storied history of dialogue and influence with both local and national politicians.
The NBA YLD is an important voice within the ABA YLD and is represented on the ABA YLD’s Council and in the Assembly. In recent years, the leadership of the NBA YLD has made a significant effort to attend ABA YLD meetings and conferences and both organizations recognize the importance of building cross relationships for their members. Carlos Moore attended both the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco and the ABA YLD Fall Conference in Charlotte, and Justin Goldstein, the ABA YLD Chair, will be attending the NBA YLD’s Diversity Roundtable and Networking Retreat in May 2008. Both Moore and Goldstein will be attending the ABA YLD’s Spring Conference in Washington, D.C., and hope to make the event a memorable bridge on which to build a long-standing relationship between the NBA YLD and the ABA YLD.
For more information on the NBA and NBA YLD, please visit www.nationalbar.org or contact the NBA YLD Chair, Carlos Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.