Profiles of Diversity

By Alexa Giacomini

Alexa Giacomini is Staff Director of the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. She may be reached at 312/988-5636 or giacomia@staff.abanet.org.

The Division has made many strides in the past few years to increase efforts to provide more leadership opportunities and better resources for lawyers of diversity as outlined in the ABA’s Goal IX initiative.

One highlight is the Division’s Diversity Fellowship Program. The purpose of this program is to promote diversity within the Division and the ABA, while providing leadership development opportunities within the Division for attorneys of color, women, and those with disabilities. Below is a list of the Division’s Diversity Fellows to date.

Although not all the Diversity Fellows have gone on to leadership positions within the Division, many of them have climbed the leadership ladder and are still giving back to the Division today. Take the class of 2002-2003 for example. Laura Farber, George Johnson, and Amy Lin Meyerson have all gone on to contribute great things to the Division and the profession.

Laura Farber, who came to us as a Past Chair of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD), has become one of the most active members in the Division and the ABA. Laura currently serves as a Division Council member and as the Division One Director, where she oversees all of the Division’s administrative committees. Since her time as a Fellow, Laura has also taken on a mentorship role with each new class of Fellows. She is known not only to take her assigned Fellow with her to all the Division’s activities, introducing them to other members and providing insight on the issues at hand, but she also includes her Fellow in the other ABA entity meetings she is involved in as part of her numerous other leadership roles. Laura is also the force behind the Division’s public service program, Tolerance Through Education—Welcome to School: Helping Kids Belong, a program she put together back as Chair of the YLD. The program is designed for lawyers to help strengthen the diversity that makes our democratic society thrive by promoting respect among children for those who look different, act different, or hold different beliefs. (For more information on this program, go to www.abanet.org/genpractice/tolerance/.)

George Johnson has also remained active in the Division since his days as a Diversity Fellow. In fact, George is now in his second year of service as Chair of the Division’s Diversity Committee. In this position he heads up the Division’s efforts to maintain a web page with information of specific importance to lawyers of diversity, oversees the Diversity Fellowship Program, and helps out with a variety of other Division activities, such as the Diversity Speakers Bank project. George also serves as a Special Advisor to the Division’s Membership Board and as a member of the Long-Range Planning Committee. To learn more about what George and the Diversity Committee have been working on, check out the Division’s Diversity Welcome Page at www.abanet.org/genpractice/diversity/.

The third member of the Class of 2002-2003 has also been extremely busy. Amy Lin Meyerson, a recent Past President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, is currently serving as a member of the Division’s Council and as the Division Four Director, where she oversees all of the Division’s practice setting committees. Amy has also been helping to plan the Division’s upcoming Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., despite the fact that she recently gave birth to a baby girl (welcome, Ashley!) and will be unable to attend the meeting herself.

With Diversity Fellows like these, it’s easy to see why the Division has been successful at developing new programs to better serve lawyers of diversity. In fact, the Division has been recognized once again this year with Honor Roll status from two of the three entities developing Goal IX Reports: the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession and the Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law.

But we cannot rest on our laurels. Not yet. The Division currently does not have any women serving in its highest elected offices, as noted in the Commission on Women in the Profession’s Goal IX Report Card. We must be vigilant in making sure that the hardworking women currently in leadership positions within the Division are recognized and encouraged to seek higher offices. Only then will we truly be able to celebrate our Division’s Goal IX accomplishments.

To learn more about the Division’s Diversity Plan, please download the PDF at www.abanet.org/genpractice/diversity/diversityplan.pdf

Copyright 2007

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