July 18, 2019

Diversity Committee

Mission Statement

Promoting diversity in the profession shall be a priority of the Forum. The mission of the Forum’s Diversity Committee is to raise awareness and understanding among our members and others of the vital role diversity plays in the construction industry, both nationally and globally. The Diversity Committee’s mission includes enhancing participation, inclusion and leadership opportunities for attorneys of diverse backgrounds in Forum programs, publications and other initiatives. The Committee will also educate our membership on how diversity impacts the practice of construction law.

The Forum Diversity Committee sponsors a number of outreach efforts for diverse construction lawyers. The Forum offers Diversity Scholarships for women and minority construction lawyers, construction lawyers with disabilities, and construction lawyers from the LGBT community for the cost of registration to each of the Forum’s three national meetings each year, the Forum’s regional meetings each Fall, and the biennial Forum Trial Academy. The Forum also awards up to six Diversity Fellowships each year at the Forum’s Annual meeting. Each Fellowship is for three years, and Diversity Fellows receive a waiver of all registration fees for the Forum’s three national meetings each year, reimbursement of reasonable travel and accommodation expenses associated with attending the Forum’s Annual meeting each spring, a waiver of Forum membership dues, and payment of ABA membership dues on a graduated basis. Additionally, Fellows are afforded the opportunity to serve on the steering committee of one of the Forum’s 14 Divisions. The Fellowship has developed into a highly prestigious award among diverse construction lawyers.

Forum Diversity Quick Facts

At every national meeting of the Forum, the Diversity Committee has presented a breakfast or luncheon featuring a nationally prominent speaker on some aspect of diversity and inclusion. Past speakers have included:

  • 2018 Fall meeting – Right Honourable Beverly McLachlin, first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and longest serving Chief Justice of Canada, and co-author of the book “The Canadian Law of Architecture and Engineering;”
  • 2018 Annual meeting – a panel of four diverse past leaders of the Forum, Ava J. Abramowitz, past Forum Governing Committee member and recipient of the Forum’s prestigious Cornerstone Award, Deborah S. Ballati, past chair of the Forum and first female president of the American College of Construction Lawyers, Deborah S. Griffin, first female chair of the Forum and recipient of the Forum’s prestigious Cornerstone Award, and Leslie King O’Neal, past Forum chair and past board member of the American College of Construction Lawyers;
  • 2018 Midwinter meeting – Patrick Jephson, consultant, journalist, broadcaster, bestselling author, and former equerry and the only private secretary and chief of staff to Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales, Diana;
  • 2017 Fall meeting – Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), nationally renowned litigator who argued the case of Obergefell v. Hodges before the U.S. Supreme Court which legalized gay marriage in the United States, and advocate for LGBTQ rights;
  • 2017 Annual meeting – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassen, second woman in history to have served as both a Governor (New Hampshire) and a U.S. Senator, and advocate for disability rights;
  • 2017 Midwinter meeting – Dr. Steven Chu, Stanford University Professor, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, and Nobel Laureate;
  • 2016 Fall meeting – Robert J. Grey, Jr., President of Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and past President of the ABA;
  • 2016 Annual meeting – Paulette Brown, (then current) President of the ABA and the first woman of color to ever be elected President of the ABA;
  • 2016 Midwinter meeting – Carla Christopherson, former co-owner of the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks and Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the global design, construction, and management firm AECOM in Los Angeles;
  • 2015 Fall meeting – Kate Bergin, Curator and Speaker Coach for TEDx Manhattan Beach, California;
  • 2015 Annual meeting – Fred Gray, civil rights lawyer who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. on voting rights and school integration, defended Rosa Parks after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus, sued the federal government on behalf of the men exploited by the Tuskegee, Alabama syphilis experiment, and the first African-American ever to be elected President of the Alabama Bar Association;
  • 2015 Midwinter meeting – Judge Bernice B. Donald of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, past Secretary of the ABA and the first African-American woman to serve as an officer in the history of the ABA and the first African-American President of the American Bar Foundation; and
  • 2014 Fall meeting – Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon, Inc. and former Hooters waitress.

Diversity Luncheon 2018 Annual Meeting

Diversity Fellowships Available!

The Forum is pleased to announce the availability of six (6) Diversity Fellowships. The Forum’s leadership has initiated a fellowship program for diverse construction lawyers with the goal of drawing diverse construction lawyers into the ranks of active, long-term Forum members. The Forum’s Diversity Fellowship is intended to identify diverse construction lawyers who have demonstrated interest in the Forum and are therefore potential candidates for future Forum leadership. Fellows receive the following benefits:

  • Waiver of all registration fees for the Forum’s Fall, Midwinter, and Annual Meetings;
  • Reimbursement of reasonable travel and accommodation expenses associated with attending the Forum’s Annual Meeting held each spring (not to exceed $1,500 per annum);
  • Waiver of Forum membership dues; and
  • Payment of ABA membership dues in the following amounts: 100% in Year 1; 66% in Year 2; and 33% in Year 3.

Additionally, Fellows are afforded the opportunity to join the steering committee of one of the Forum’s fourteen (14) Divisions, and if desired, the Forum will arrange a mentor for each Fellow, appropriate to that Fellow’s needs (e.g. career advice, guidance on navigating Forum meetings, leadership, committees, etc.). While all submitted applications will be considered, the ideal candidates will have between three (3) and twelve (12) years’ experience in construction law.

Fellowship recipients are expected to attend the Forum’s Annual Meeting in the spring and are strongly encouraged to attend the Fall and Midwinter meetings. The Forum’s 2019 Annual Meeting will be held April 25-27, 2019 in Hollywood, FL.

Uploaded under "Documents" is an application for the Forum’s 2019 Diversity Fellowship. Completed applications must be received on, or before, Friday, February 8, 2019. The application deadline will not be extended.

Applications for fellowships should be sent to:

Arlan D. Lewis (Chair, Diversity Fellowship Subcommittee)
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
One Federal Place
1819 Fifth Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203-2119
Email: alewis@bradley.com
Phone: 205.521.8131

Get in Free!

Bring a Diverse First Timer to a National Meeting of the Forum and You Both Get in Free!

In order to encourage Forum members to recruit diverse lawyers to attend their first national meeting of the Forum, the Diversity Committee has renewed the Member Bring a Diverse First Timer initiative. Under this program, the Forum will waive the registration fee for the first ten (10) Forum members who register for a national meeting of the Forum and who also register and bring along a diverse lawyer to his or her first national meeting of the Forum (a “first timer”), whose registration fee will also be waived. It could be a diverse young associate in the member’s office or a diverse lawyer on the other side of a case. In order to take advantage of the initiative, the Forum member and the first timer must both commit to attend the program (offer limited to one per Forum member per bar year). For more information or to register, please contact Lisha Morris at Lisha.Morris@americanbar.org.