Diversity and Justice at the Supreme Court
by Frank H. Wu
Page 2

Letter from the Chair, José E. Gaitán
Page 3

Hopwood v. State of Texas: Retreat from the Supreme Court Ruling in Bakke
by Leo J. Jordan
Page 4

Valuing Diversity - A Given?
by Keith Earley
Page 5

Affirmative Action: Define "Qualifications" from Diverse Viewpoints
by Dale F. Rubin
Page 6

1999 Spirit of Excellence Awards
by Charisse R. Lillie
Page 7

1999 Annual Meeting Schedule
Page 8

An open letter to Minority Counsel Program supporters
Page 9

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O n the eve of the third millennium, lawyers of color have yet to achieve level ground on the playing field of corporate America. Consequently, lawyers of color continue to be disproportionately under -represented in partnerships of the nation’s large law firms, in upper management of Fortune 500 law departments, and in almost every area of the legal profession except government. At a time when surveys of public perceptions about our legal system reveal a lack of confidence by minorities, demographics suggest that the face of America is changing with the potential for profound ramifications. Despite these changes, our present reality suggests that we are no closer today to the American Bar Association’s Goal IX objective—"to achieve the full and equal participation of minorities within the profession"— than we were a decade ago.

In 1988, the ABA’s Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession created the Minority Counsel Demonstration Program. The program’s purpose was to demonstrate to corporate America and others in the legal profession that lawyers of color could successfully manage the legal work and representation of corporate clients. Additionally, it sought to establish a benchmark of talent, ability and work product for lawyers of color evidencing the high levels of confidence currently enjoyed by corporate America. The program’s initial success prompted the Commission to drop the word "demonstration" from its title in the belief that corporate America would continue to retain minority lawyers for outside legal services.

The Minority Counsel Program’s (MCP) early success may have set the tone for its decline, however. The growing perception of limitless opportunity combined with misconceptions and unrealistic expectations of MCP members, contributed significantly to the program’s explosive growth and its ultimate decline. For its constituents, the program had lost its focus.

In October 1998, MCP leadership held a summit to redefine the program’s course and renew its objectives. MCP2000 was conceived with its revised goal of assisting lawyers of color in their efforts to develop mutually rewarding business relationships with America’s largest corporations. The program will showcase lawyer’s skills through such events as mock trials, panel discussions, legal workshops, and forums on issue/case trends, and activities which provide networking opportunities for lawyers and prospective clients.

Please join us in October 1999 as we unveil MCP2000 and raise the stakes for competitive legal services in the new millennium.

Sincerely,
Minority Counsel Program Strategic Committee

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Old MCP:

  • Focus upon immediate assignment of outside legal work;

  • nterviews conducted by corporate representatives who lacked authority to assign work; &127; Unpredictable schedule for interviews;

  • "Entitlement" attitude by many prospective outside counsel;

  • "Feeding frenzy" atmosphere a deterrent to corporate attendance;

  • Little or no statistical information to evaluate the success or ineffectiveness of the program; and,

  • Dissatisfaction with the amount, type, or quality of legal assignments generated by the program.

MCP2000:

  • Focus upon building strong, long-term business relationships;

  • Opportunities for prospective outside counsel to demonstrate their legal abilities and showcase their talents;

  • Emphasis upon small group and one-on-one programming;

  • Prospective outside counsel who expect to benefit from the program will, in turn, be expected to help those less privileged than themselves through a pro bono requirement;

  • Attendance caps for prospective outside counsel based upon the number of corporate counsel registered for each meeting;

  • Skill-building workshops where prospective outside counsel and corporate counsel can learn together;

  • Policy programs to educate corporate counsel about the politics associated with the use of lawyers of color as outside counsel in areas such as recruitment, hiring, promotion to partnership, and retention;

  • Policy programs to educate prospective outside counsel about the politics associated with the selection and use of outside counsel, both within and outside the law department;

  • A reporting requirement to track the amount, type, and outcome of work assigned through the program; and,

  • Honoring corporations, law firms and bar associations that demonstrate a special commitment to or success in promoting the full and equal participation of minorities and women in the legal profession.

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